A1 Journal article (refereed)
In utero behavioral imprinting to predation risk in pups of the bank vole (2020)

Sievert, T., Kerkhoven, A., Haapakoski, M., Matson, K. D., Ylönen, O., & Ylönen, H. (2020). In utero behavioral imprinting to predation risk in pups of the bank vole. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 74(13). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-019-2791-8

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Sievert, Thorbjörn; Kerkhoven, Arjane; Haapakoski, Marko; Matson, Kevin D.; Ylönen, Olga; Ylönen, Hannu

Journal or series: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

ISSN: 0340-5443

eISSN: 1432-0762

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 74

Issue number: 13

Publisher: Springer

Publication country: Germany

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-019-2791-8

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/67258


In the predator–prey arms race, survival-enhancing adaptive behaviors are essential. Prey can perceive predator presence directly from visual, auditory, or chemical cues. Non-lethal encounters with a predator may trigger prey to produce special body odors, alarm pheromones, informing conspecifics about predation risks. Recent studies suggest that parental exposure to predation risk during reproduction affects offspring behavior cross-generationally. We compared behaviors of bank vole (Myodes glareolus) pups produced by parents exposed to one of three treatments: predator scent from the least weasel (Mustela nivalis nivalis); scent from weasel-exposed voles, i.e., alarm pheromones; or a control treatment without added scents. Parents were treated in semi-natural field enclosures, but pups were born in the lab and assayed in an open-field arena. Before each behavioral test, one of the three scent treatments was spread throughout the test arena. The tests followed a full factorial design (3 parental treatments × 3 area treatments). Regardless of the parents’ treatment, pups exposed to predator odor in the arena moved more. Additionally, pups spend more time in the center of the arena when presented with predator odor or alarm pheromone compared with the control. Pups from predator odor–exposed parents avoided the center of the arena under control conditions, but they spent more time in the center when either predator odor or alarm pheromone was present. Our experiment shows that cross-generational effects are context-sensitive, depending on the perceived risk. Future studies should examine cross-generational behavioral effects in ecologically meaningful environments instead of only neutral ones.

Keywords: smell; pheromones; prey; Clethrionomys glareolus

Free keywords: cross-generational effects; predation risk; olfaction; odor; alarm pheromone

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Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2021-28-09 at 14:10