Prairie voles can find partners just fine without the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin
Prairie voles have long been heralded as models of monogamy. Now, a study suggests that the “love hormone” once thought essential for their bonding — oxytocin — might not be so necessary after all.
Interest in the romantic lives of prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) was first sparked more than 40 years ago, says Devanand Manoli, a biologist at the University of California, San Francisco. Biologists trying to capture voles to study would frequently catch two at a time, because “what they were finding were these male-female pairs,” he says. Unlike many other rodents with their myriad partners, prairie voles, it turned out, mate for life (SN: 10/5/15).
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Pair-bonded prairie voles prefer each other’s company over a stranger’s and like to huddle together both in the wild and the lab. Because other vole species…