Recognition of individual pheromone odors

The ‘stereotyped osmallaxis’. Sheppard and Yoshida (1971) investigated the recognition of young sibling Richardson’s ground squirrels (Spermophilus richardsoni). In pair- ed encounters, siblings exhibited less agonistic behavior and more sniffing and ‘cohesive’ behavior than did non-siblings. From this, a ‘group odor’ is inferred. Rabbits (0ryct0lagus cuniculus) maintain group odors in their territories because several members of a colony, especially males, defecate on communal piles of fecal pellets. These ‘marking pellets’ differ from dispersed pellets by carrying the scent of the anal glands (Mykytowycz 1968). Female rabbits will tolerate their own young, harass those of other females in the same colony and kill kittens of another colony. Olfactory cues are determinative in this behavior (Mykytowycz and Dudzinski 1972).

In vicufias (Vicugna vicugmz) family groups, which are territorial, maintain dung piles to which all members contribute. Thus the dung piles carry a group odor which is assumed to aid the resident group's orientation in space. Also, the dung piles may separate neighbors at territory borders, although other, non-neighboring groups will enter a territory in the absence of the resident group (Franklin 1973). Learn more at

Geist (1971) assumes that in Dall’s sheep (0vz's dalli) a group odor results from the young males’ rubbing against the antorbital glands of old rams. Another form of stereotyped osmallaxis in ungulates is the pressing together of the maxillary glands in Maxwell’s duikers (Cephalophus maxwelli). In this species, social marking be- tween males is the prelude to a fight (Ralls 1969).

16.6. Recognition of individual pheromone odors

Groups of adults: In a group of adult black-tailed deer, hostile encounters parti- cularly between strangers, may start with a sniffing of the tarsal organs of another individual (Muller-Schwarze 1971). Here, as in many other cases, the various senso- ry modalities will contribute to individual recognition; thus, an individual may be recognized by its group-mates with the aid of a combination of smell, posture, gait, etc. Laboratory experiments have demonstrated that two individuals can be dis- criminated by odor even if the donors and the responding animal have never met. Laboratory mice (Mus musculus, strain C57B1) were able to discriminate between the odors of two males of their own strain with which they had not previously been associated (Bowers and Alexander 1967). Receptive female laboratory rats can discriminate the odors of different males (Krames 1970). Two male white mice living together can be made more aggressive toward one another by rubbing the ano-genital region of a strange male on one or both of the males. Conversely, a strange male will be attacked less if he is treated with the odor of one of the two resident males (Mackintosh and Grant 1966). Mongolian gerbils discriminate among the odors of different males (Dagg and Windsor 1971). African dwarf mongooses (flelogale undulata rufula) mark objects with their cheek glands and immediately afterwards with their anal glands. The anal gland secretions, but not the cheek gland secretions of different individuals can be distinguished by conspecifics (Rasa 1973). In rabbits, one animal will take longer to identify another if the inguinal glands of the latter have been extirpated (Mykytowycz 1972). Learn more at 

Territorial individuals: Pronghorn males (Antilocapra americana) mark their territories with their subauricular glands and maintain dung sites, where pawing, urinating and defecation take place. Captive pronghorn have distuinguished among subauricular scent marks of different males, including their own (Miiller-Schwarze and Miiller-Schwarze 1972). They can also clearly distinguish their own dung from that of other males with whom they are familiar (Miiller-Schwarze et al. 1973)


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