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Odour of King Penguin feathers analysed using direct thermal desorption discriminates between individuals but not sexes

Gabirot, Marianne, Buatois, Bruno, Muller, Carsten and Bonadonna, Francesco 2018. Odour of King Penguin feathers analysed using direct thermal desorption discriminates between individuals but not sexes. Ibis 160 (2) , pp. 379-389. 10.1111/ibi.12544

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Abstract

The role and use of olfactory cues by penguins is largely under‐investigated, with only a few studies suggesting that odours are involved in prey detection, orientation and for interspecific communication. This also applies to King Penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus where little is known about their chemoreception abilities and, subsequently, the role of odours in their behavioural ecology. Here, we investigated the chemical composition of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from feathers of King Penguins in the Kerguelen Archipelago and their potential to carry information on identity and sex. We analysed VOCs using direct thermal desorption, a novel approach for extracting volatile compounds directly from solid matrices. We were only able to test at desorption temperatures of 70 and 100 °C to optimize conditions for VOC analysis. We found a profile of 26 VOCs present in most individuals, which varied significantly between individuals but not between sexes. Results suggested that VOCs could possibly be used by King Penguins to locate the colony and recognize individuals, if similar VOCs are also present at ambient conditions. Further studies and behavioural experiments are encouraged to explore olfactory‐based communication in this species.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0019-1019
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 March 2018
Date of Acceptance: 27 September 2017
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2020 21:11
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/109993

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