Chemical communication in large carnivores: urine-marking frequencies in captive tigers and lions

Polish Journal of Ecology (Impact Factor: 0.57). 01/2010; 58:397-400.


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).

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