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Otter scent signals age, sex, and reproductive status

Kean, Eleanor, Müller, Carsten Theodor ORCID: and Chadwick, Elizabeth Anna ORCID: 2011. Otter scent signals age, sex, and reproductive status. Chemical Senses 36 (6) , pp. 555-564. 10.1093/chemse/bjr025

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Scent is used across taxa to communicate information about signaler identity. Eurasian otters Lutra lutra are mainly solitary and thought to use scent as their primary means of communication. Little is known, however, about what information otters communicate through scent or what social function this performs. Headspace solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry were used to sample and analyze volatile organic compounds from anal scent gland secretion from 158 otters of differing sex, age, and female reproductive status. Univariate and multivariate differences were clear between adult and juvenile otters. Complex sex differences were apparent in adult otters but not in younger individuals, suggesting the use of this scent secretion in mate attraction. The scent of pregnant and lactating females was highly differentiated from male and juvenile scent, but anecdotal reports suggest females avoid communication during these times.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: gas chromatography; Lutrinae; mass spectrometry; scent communication; SPME; volatile organic compounds
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0379-864X
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 09:56

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