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 editorsSievert, Thorbjörn; Kerkhoven, Arjane; Haapakoski, Marko; Matson, Kevin D.; Ylönen, Olga; Ylönen, Hannu

Journal or seriesBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology



Publication year2020


Issue number13


Publication countryGermany

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially 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.

KeywordssmellpheromonespreyClethrionomys glareolus

Free keywordscross-generational effects; predation risk; olfaction; odor; alarm pheromone

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Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2020

JUFO rating2

Last updated on 2024-22-04 at 13:02