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Relatedness communicated in lemur scent

Morelli, T. L. and Hayes, R. A. and Nahrung, H. F. and Goodwin, T. E. and Harelimana, I. H. and MacDonald, L. J. and Wright, P. C. (2013) Relatedness communicated in lemur scent. Naturwissenschaften, 100 (8). pp. 769-777. ISSN 0028-1042

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Publisher URL: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00114-013-1074-x#


Lemurs are the most olfactory-oriented of primates, yet there is still only a basic level of understanding of what their scent marks communicate. We analyzed scent secretions from Milne-Edwards' sifakas (Propithecus edwardsi) collected in their natural habitat of Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. We sought to test whether the scent mark could signal genetic relatedness in addition to species, sex, season, and individuality. We not only found correlations (r (2) = 0.38, P = 0.017) between the total olfactory fingerprint and genetic relatedness but also between relatedness and specific components of the odor, despite the complex environmental signals from differences in diet and behavior in a natural setting. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of an association between genetic relatedness and chemical communication in a wild primate population. Furthermore, we found a variety of compounds that were specific to each sex and each sampling period. This research shows that scent marks could act as a remote signal to avoid inbreeding, optimize mating opportunities, and potentially aid kin selection.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Additional Information:Morelli, Toni Lyn Hayes, R. Andrew Nahrung, Helen F. Goodwin, Thomas E. Harelimana, Innocent H. MacDonald, Laura J. Wright, Patricia C.
Science > Biology
Deposited On:23 Sep 2013 00:25
Last Modified:17 Jul 2014 15:08

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