OLFACTORY COMMUNICATION


Amongst males scent marking tends to be rank-related, in that the highest ranking male will scent mark at the highest frequency of occurrence (Perret, 1995). Scent marking has also been found to be highest amongst the most dominant female in an all female social group (Glatston, 1983). Olfactory communication may be important in infant rearing because infant survival was found to be low amongst bulbectomized mothers (Perret, 1995). In a social group, bulbectomized females acted like they were isolated females, suggesting olfactory communication is important in female-female group interactions (Perret, 1995). It was found in captivity that urine from sexually active femlaes will increase the testosterone levels in males which were isolated (Perret, 1995). It was also found that urine from dominant males will decrease the testosterone levels in isolated males (Perret, 1995; Schilling et al., 1984). Also the urine from a dominant male will cause the cortisol levels to increase in an isolated male (Schilling et al., 1984). Urine from sexually active females also has a pheromonal effect on other females in that the females in a group will a sex ratio that is biased towards males (Perret, 1995). The different types of urine marking, explained below, may decrease during estrus because the female wants the male to approach them, and not have avoid them by expressing their dominance (Glatston, 1983).

urine washing: This is when the hand and foot of the same side are raised and urine is deposited on the hand from the penis or the clitoris (Glatston, 1979). Then the foot is rubbed over the hand rapidly and then both hand and foot are replaced to the substrate (Glatston, 1979). This process is repeated, alternating the different sides of hand and foot, while the individual moves along a branch (Glatston, 1979). For the gray mouse lemur this is the most frequent method of scent marking using urine (Glatston, 1979). Females do this at a higher frequency than males, but this behavior decreases in frequency during estrus (Glatston, 1979). This communicates territorial demarcation (Glatston, 1979).

rhythmic micturation: During this the body is lowered to the substrate and a thin trail of urine is deposited as the individual moves forward by a wriggling motion (Glatston, 1979). Females do this at a higher frequency than males, but this behavior decreases in frequency during estrus (Glatston, 1979). This communicates territorial demarcation (Glatston, 1979).

deliberate discharge: This is when a large amount of urine is intentionally sprayed on to a branch (Glatston, 1979). Females do this at a higher frequency than males, but this behavior decreases in frequency during estrus (Glatston, 1979). This communicates territorial demarcation (Glatston, 1979).

mouth-wiping: This is when the corner of the mouth, the face, and occasionally the head are rubbed on a branch (Glatston, 1979). In this behavior of depositing glandular secretions, saliva may also be deposited (Glatston, 1979). Females will increase this behavior during estrus (Glatston, 1979). This behavior increases in frequency by the male when the female is in estrus (Glatston, 1979). This communicates territorial demarcation (Glatston, 1979).

anogenital-rubbing: This is when an individual will lower the hind quarters and drag the anogenital region along the substrate depositing glandular secretions (Glatston, 1979). Females will increase the frequency of this behavior during estrus (Glatston, 1979; Perret, 1995). This communicates territorial demarcation (Glatston, 1979). This form of scent marking may also provide information on the reproductive condition of the female during the breeding season (Glatston, 1979).

[Gray Mouse Lemur] [Morphology] [Range] [Ecology] [Locomotion] [Social Behavior] [Vocal Communication] [Olfactory Communication] [Visual Communication] [Tactile Communication [Reproduction] [References]


Last Updated: January 25, 2007.
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