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The animal model we use to study how non-parental animals become competent parents is the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster). Prairie voles are ideal for the study of attachment because of their human-like social system. Adult male and female prairie voles form monogamous bonds and both are involved in caring for their offspring once they become parents (Lonstein & De Vries 1999). As virgin (i.e., parentally and sexually naïve) adults, however, their reactions to pups differ depending on whether they are male or female. Most virgin males are willing to care for pups throughout their lifetime, while virgin female prairie voles tend to be infanticidal, meaning they react aggressively towards pups (Lonstein & De Vries, 1999). My lab is interested in the events and physiological changes that cause infanticidal animals to become parental, thereby protecting their future offspring.
(From Hayes' Lab website)
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