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A Field Study of Wild Echidna Responses to Conspecific Odour

Harris, RL, Cameron, EZ ORCID: 0000-0002-9243-0547 and Nicol, SC 2019 , 'A Field Study of Wild Echidna Responses to Conspecific Odour', in CD Buesching (ed.), Chemical Signals in Vertebrates 14 , Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, pp. 71-80.

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Abstract

Mammalian olfactory cues play a crucial role in coordinating matingbehaviour as they contain pertinent information on sex, reproductive status andreceptivity to mating. Males of many species are particularly attentive tochanges in female odour cues, as these can be used to find potential mates andmonitor changes in reproductive condition. Such sensitivity is likely to beespecially important for usually solitary or seasonally breeding individuals. Weused remote scent trials in the field to examine if wild short-beaked echidnas areattracted to conspecific female odour. Our results are consistent with thehypothesis that male echidnas use olfactory cues during the breeding season tolocate females: Echidnas were only observed investigating female odour samplesand not empty camera trap stations, more echidnas (including knownindividual males) were attracted to female odours during the breeding season,than during the non-breeding season and we noted olfactory behaviours such assniffing and tongue-flicking at the odour source. Male echidnas increase theirmating opportunities by engaging in scramble competition and being sensitive tovolatile and non-volatile female odour components, allowing them to locatepotential mates and minimise search costs. Consequently, male ability to locatefemales may be sexually selected, but further bioassays, along with geneticinformation, is needed to investigate this further.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Harris, RL and Cameron, EZ and Nicol, SC
Keywords: chemical communication, echidna, olfactory clues
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/978-3-030-17616-7_6
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

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