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Grand Teton National Park Report

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Impaired immunocompetence may contribute to the multiannual fluctuations ("cycles") in population density of arvicoline rodents (Mihok et al. 1985, Pinter 1988, Lochmiller et al. 1993). In a variety of species environmental variables influence at least one component of the immune system, the gut-associated lymphoid system, GALT (Lopez et al. 1985, Li et al. 1995). Preliminary laboratory observations suggest that the development of GALT in Microtus montanus can be influenced by such factors as age and diet (Smith and Pinter 2000). However, these observations are from captive-bred voles, maintained on a synthetic laboratory diet, under strictly controlled laboratory conditions. The complexity and abundance of variables under natural conditions must influence the development and function of GALT- yet, nothing is known about it from Microtus montanus under natural conditions. The purpose of this study was essentially twofold: (1) to describe the morphometries of GALT in wild-caught M. montanus, and (2) to characterize the morphometric changes that occur in GALT of these animals as a function of their age, sex, and the season of the year.