Spending time with friends, family and loved ones is a potentially effective tactic for social motivation that, according to a study published recently, may be favorable for some voles but is simply tolerable to others.

According to a Phys.org report, the findings suggest what's going on in the voles' brain when different types of relationships are built and exhibit that social motivation may differ according to individual, gender, and species.

As similar brain structures and hormones are involved in social interactions in a lot of species, which include humans, this new finding may lay the basis for better understanding some of the

As similar hormones and brain structures are involved in social interactions in many species, including humans, this new information may lay the groundwork for better understanding some of the fundamentals of social differences.

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Science Times- Animal Behavior: Which Between the Prairie and Meadow Vole Species Has More Social Motivation?
(Photo : Plantsurfer on Wikimedia Commons)
Spending time with friends, family and loved ones is a potentially effective tactic for social motivation that may be favorable for some voles but is simply tolerable to others.

Voles, Naturally Social Creatures

Voles are ideal model animals for investigating social behaviors since they are naturally social creatures. Some vole species like prairie voles, as explained in AllThingsNature are forming lasting social bonds both with their mates and their same-sex peers.

On the other hand, meadow voles are only building communities to help survive during the winter and then they part ways during the warmer season.

According to the study's first author, Annaliese Beery said they wanted to find out why voles of the said two species are spending time in social contact.

Beery, who directed this study in her lab at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, United States, and is presently in the University of California, Berkeley's Department of Integrative Biology added that they wanted to find out what role social motivation is playing in their behavior, or to what degree "social selectivity is more about avoiding strangers.

The 'Food Reward'

To find the answer, a similar Bioengieering.org report specified, Beery, together with her colleagues, trained both vole species to push a bar to get a food reward after.

They then replaced the rewards with brief access to a familiar vole belonging to the same species, or a stranger, to find out how frequent the voles would push the bar to get near the other animal.

With every successive push of the bar, it turned more challenging to get access to the other vole, with the other animals that needed to push the bar again for more access.

Commenting on their findings from the study published in ELife, Beery said they found "striking species and sex differences" in the other animals the voles would work to be closer to.

Social Interactions of Prairie and Meadow Voles Compared

Specifically, the research team found that female prairie voles worked harder so they could see familiar voles than strangers, although male prairie voles did not exhibit this preference for their acquaintances.

The males worked hard instead to access any females, although they exhibited less interest in males. However, the males still clustered with familiar animals when they were together.

The meadow voles in the study, all-females, did not work as hard as the female prairies, to reach familiar animals. Together, the results have suggested that prairie voles find it rewarding when having social interactions with familiar animals.

Meadow voles, on the other hand, were more likely to tolerate family and friends over unfamiliar animals, although they were not highly motivated by such interactions.

Related information about voles is shown on Emory University's YouTube video below:


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