Chemical communication in large carnivores: urine-marking frequencies in captive tigers and lions
ABSTRACT Environmental and social pres-sures can result in interspecies differences in mark-ing behaviours. There is a strong relationship be-tween marking behaviour and the environment. Therefore, closely related species that show behav-ioural differences in the wild may have different scent marking strategies. We conducted a compara-tive study of the urine-marking behaviours of tigers and lions in captivity (Madrid Zoo, open enclosures of 514 m 2 and 730 m 2 respectively, observations of 8 animals for each species). These two closely related species have different natural habitats. We observed interspecific differences in the rates, seasonal varia-tions, and durations of the urine-marking acts. The marking rate was higher in tigers, which also showed seasonal variations not observed in lions. The duration of urine marking was lower in tigers than in lions. These differences seem to correspond to differences between tigers and lions in terms of their natural habitats (forest areas vs open areas), social organizations (solitary vs social), and repro-ductive biology patterns (seasonal polyoestrous vs annual polyoestrous).
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Isabel Barja, May 07, 2015
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ABSTRACT: The function of chemical signalling in non-territorial solitary carnivores is still relatively unclear. Studies on territorial solitary and social carnivores have highlighted odour capability and utility, however the social function of chemical signalling in wild carnivore populations operating dominance hierarchy social systems has received little attention. We monitored scent marking and investigatory behaviour of wild brown bears Ursus arctos, to test multiple hypotheses relating to the social function of chemical signalling. Camera traps were stationed facing bear 'marking trees' to document behaviour by different age sex classes in different seasons. We found evidence to support the hypothesis that adult males utilise chemical signalling to communicate dominance to other males throughout the non-denning period. Adult females did not appear to utilise marking trees to advertise oestrous state during the breeding season. The function of marking by subadult bears is somewhat unclear, but may be related to the behaviour of adult males. Subadults investigated trees more often than they scent marked during the breeding season, which could be a result of an increased risk from adult males. Females with young showed an increase in marking and investigation of trees outside of the breeding season. We propose the hypothesis that females engage their dependent young with marking trees from a young age, at a relatively 'safe' time of year. Memory, experience, and learning at a young age, may all contribute towards odour capabilities in adult bears.PLoS ONE 04/2012; 7(4):e35404. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0035404 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Only little is known about whether single volatile compounds are as efficient in eliciting behavioral responses in animals as the whole complex mixture of a behaviorally relevant odor. Recent studies analysing the composition of volatiles in mammalian blood, an important prey-associated odor stimulus for predators, found the odorant trans-4,5-epoxy-(E)-2-decenal to evoke a typical "metallic, blood-like" odor quality in humans. We therefore assessed the behavior of captive Asian wild dogs (Cuon alpinus), African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), South American bush dogs (Speothos venaticus), and Siberian tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) when presented with wooden logs that were impregnated either with mammalian blood or with the blood odor component trans-4,5-epoxy-(E)-2-decenal, and compared it to their behavior towards a fruity odor (iso-pentyl acetate) and a near-odorless solvent (diethyl phthalate) as control. We found that all four species displayed significantly more interactions with the odorized wooden logs such as sniffing, licking, biting, pawing, and toying, when they were impregnated with the two prey-associated odors compared to the two non-prey-associated odors. Most importantly, no significant differences were found in the number of interactions with the wooden logs impregnated with mammalian blood and the blood odor component in any of the four species. Only one of the four species, the South American bush dogs, displayed a significant decrease in the number of interactions with the odorized logs across the five sessions performed per odor stimulus. Taken together, the results demonstrate that a single blood odor component can be as efficient in eliciting behavioral responses in large carnivores as the odor of real blood, suggesting that trans-4,5-epoxy-(E)-2-decenal may be perceived by predators as a "character impact compound" of mammalian blood odor. Further, the results suggest that odorized wooden logs are a suitable manner of environmental enrichment for captive carnivores.PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e112694. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0112694 · 3.53 Impact Factor