The male pheromone interaction

The male pheromone interaction. One must not exclude attractant odors used to establish or main- tain the pair bond. The studies of Schultze-Westrum (1965), Goodrich and Mykyto- wycz (1972), Stoddart (unpublished) and others have demonstrated unequivocally that a greater repertoire and intensity of odors are produced by male animals. As far as is known, there is no species in which the female produces a greater quantity or a more complex odor than the male.

Several distinct and purposeful scent setting behaviors are known, all derived from primitive movement patterns. Since scent production appears to be seasonal (Quay 1953; Stoddart 1972a), these behaviors may not be observed at all times of the year and may only be exhibited at times when scent glands are active. Learn more at

The most important motor patterns with the ability to be canalized into marking behavior are those associated with stretching (i.e. an extension of the body and limbs followed by a flexion); ventral rubbing and side rubbings (left and right); those associated with the perineal drag (movement pattern occurring when a small mammal leaves its nest); and those associated with body grooming. It does not follow that social olfaction occurs only in those species with associated patterns of  pheromone behavior, for many species appear to set scent passively from special organs.

The pheromone behavior of various Heteromyid rodents has been well described by Eisen- berg (1963). Of these some have well defined discrete organs (Per0gmzthus- Quay 1965) while others (Microdipodops and Dipodomys) have no discrete patch but an overall copious sebaceous secretion. The place where an animal has sand- bathed (side and ventrum rubbing) is often attractive to another animal. After examination, and sniffing, the spot is usually overmarked. It cannot be doubted that such loci act as pheromone information centers. Learn more about pheromones at

Although shrews (Blarina, Sorex, and Suncus) possess well defined lateral organs and a ventral organ (Dryden and Conaway 1967; Pearson 1946),there does not appear to be any special behavior associated with the setting of the scent. The lateral organs are positioned on the flanks immediately behind the ribs and are supposed by Pearson to mark passively the walls of the burrows as the animal passes along. A flank organ occurs in both sexes of the microtine Arvicola terrestris (Vrti§ 1930), but in this species a specialized form of scent setting behavior has been reported. The vole employs a pheromone modification of the normal grooming behavior to stroke the flank organ with a hind foot. The foot is then stamped onto the ground in a marking drumming behavior (Frank 1957).

Pheromones in Species

A.     terrestris is an interesting species in that the spatial organization of populations remains very constant for long periods of time. The degree of constance implies that there is a well defined communication for spacing behavior (Stoddart 1970). Further, the secretory out- put from the flank organs varies during the year reaching a peak at the time the first born of the year are weaned (Stoddart 1972a;Vrti§ 1930). Flank organs are observable from four days of age (Vrti‘s' 1930), and young voles are able to obtain, and successfully retain, an individual range from 21 days old - shortly after the age at which weaning occurs.


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