Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2013, Article ID 948915, 6 pages
Research Article

Factors Influencing Aggression Levels in Root Vole Populations under the Effect of Food Supply and Predation

1College of Life Science and Technology, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha 410004, China
2College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hang Zhou, Zhejiang 310029, China

Received 27 June 2013; Accepted 13 August 2013

Academic Editors: C. Jarnevich, M. Perez-Fernandez, and D. Pimentel

Copyright © 2013 Haiyan Nie et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Which factor determines animal aggressivity? Wynn-Edwards proposed the hypothesis that aggressive level increases with population density; Adams and Mesterton-Gibbons proposed the hypothesis that body weight is an indicator of animal aggressivity; however, Smith and Price hypothesized that aggression level varied with external conditions; that is, the population lived in the most unfavorable environment demonstrated the highest average aggression level, and the population that lived under the most favorable external conditions demonstrated the lowest average aggression level. In this paper, we tested these three hypotheses by manipulating enclosed root vole (Microtus oeconomus) populations under different food and predation treatments and observed their aggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior was measured by matching mice in a neutral arena. The experimental results supported Smith and Price’s hypothesis and Adams and Mesterton-Gibbons’s hypothesis; however, they did not support Wynn-Edwards’ hypothesis. Moreover, we found that reproductively active individuals were more aggressive. We concluded that the growth of population density did not cause or otherwise bring about increased aggressive behavior of root voles, but the external factors (predation and food supply) and physical factors (body weight and reproductive condition) were significantly correlated with aggression levels in a root vole population.