A study has been made of the volatile constituents in the vapors collected from fecal pellets of wild rabbits,Oryctolagus cuniculus. Measurements of changes in the heart rates of adult male rabbits exposed to the effluent of a gas chromatographic capillary column were used to indicate the presence of compounds which may be of behavioral significance. Combined with the use of high-resolution columns in gas chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, this approach has implicated several classes of compounds, including volatile fatty acids and phenols, which in certain absolute or relative concentrations may be involved in the formation of signals of territorial importance.
"In E. montana, two pyrazines were found to be the main compounds. Pyrazines have been found in urine of coyotes and mane wolf (Murphy et al., 1978; Childs-Sanford, 2005) and in the faeces of rabbits (Goodrich et al., 1981), and they are used as trail pheromones by several ant species (Attygalle & Morgan, 1984). However, the function of these substances in E. montana flowers remains unclear, and to our knowledge these compounds have not been identified in the floral odour of any other plant species. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: By emitting strong fetid scents, sapromyiophilous flowers mimic brood and food sites of flies to attract them as pollinators. To date, intensive comparative scent analyses have been restricted to sapromyiophilous Araceae. Here, we analysed flower volatiles of fetid stapeliads to improve our understanding of the floral biology of fly pollinated species, and to learn whether mimicry types comparable to those found in Araceae exist. Floral volatiles of 15 species out of 11 genera within the Asclepiadoideae-Ceropegieae-Stapeliinae were collected via headspace adsorption and thermal desorption and analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectometry (GC-MS). Data were analysed using CNESS-NMDS statistics. Sapromyiophilous stapeliads are highly diverse in their scent composition, in which sulphur compounds, benzenoids, fatty acid derivatives or nitrogen-containing compounds dominate. Four groups are evident: species with high p-cresol content but low amounts of polysulphides (herbivore faeces mimicry); species with mainly polysulphides and low amounts of p-cresol (carnivore/omnivore faeces or carcass mimicry); species with high amounts of heptanal and octanal (carnivore/omnivore faeces or carcass mimicry); and species with hexanoic acid (urine mimicry). Considering the findings in the unrelated Araceae, our results support the universality of different mimicry types that are obviously subsumed under the sapromyiophilous syndrome.
New Phytologist 02/2006; 172(3):452-68. DOI:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2006.01845.x · 7.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The fecal pellets of rabbits,Oryctolagus cuniculus, are coated with secretion from the anal gland, the odor from which functions as a territorial marker. The total volatiles collected from above fecal pellets and three different fractions prepared by washing the volatiles through either distilled water, 1 M sodium hydroxide, or 1 M hydrochloric acid were tested for their effect on the territorial confidence of individual animals. Tests were based on the neutral pen paradigm used in previous studies but employed a specially designed test chamber, the internal odor environment of which could be fully controlled. In the four series of bioassays a total of 140 separate tests were performed and 64 adult male rabbits were used. The results showed that the presence of the total volatiles influences the outcome of territorial competitions in pairs of male rabbits in favor of the individual from which they were derived. They were comparable with those obtained in earlier studies when fecal pellets were presented in the test pen. The effects of the different washing reagents on the total odor are illustrated by gas chromatograms, and the components most likely to be removed by the different treatments are suggested. The volatiles remaining after passing through distilled water had less effect on the rabbit's behavior than the total odor. Since the washing process not only removed water-soluble compounds but also led to a reduction in the concentrations of water-insoluble components introduced into the test chamber, either of these factors could have been responsible for the weakened effect. Fractions of the odor obtained by washing with either sodium hydroxide or hydrochloric acid did not influence the results of the tests. This suggests that the essential components of the olfactory signal include both basic and acidic compounds.
Journal of Chemical Ecology 09/1981; 7(5):799-815. DOI:10.1007/BF00992379 · 2.75 Impact Factor
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