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Resident beavers (Castor canadensis) do not discriminate between castoreum scent marks from simulated adult and subadult male intruders

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Subadult intruding beavers (Castor spp.) could be expected to pose a higher threat than adults to territory holders because, unlike adults who usually own a territory, subadults need to acquire a territory and a mate to reproduce successfully. We tested the responses of territorial beavers (Castor canadensis Kuhl, 1820) to simulated intrusions by adult and subadult males. Territorial intrusion was simulated through scent playback experiments that exposed residents to castoreum from adult and subadult strangers simultaneously. We obtained responses from 13 resident beavers. Neither sniffing response nor physical or total responses differed between castoreum from adults and subadults. This was true for both sexes combined and separate. There was also no significant correlation between the mass of the scent donor and the response intensity. We found no evidence that territorial beavers responded differentially to castoreum scent marks from intruders of different ages. Either beavers consider all strange intruders as posing a high threat and hence do not treat them differentially or castoreum does not contain sufficient information to allow beavers to discriminate between age classes. We suggest that rather than directly assessing intruders by means of intrinsic information contained in the scent mark, beavers assess their competitors through scent matching.

L’intrusion des castors (Castor spp.) subadultes devrait poser une plus grande menace aux détenteurs de territoire que celle des adultes, parce que, contrairement aux adultes qui ont déjà un territoire, les subadultes doivent se trouver un territoire et s’accoupler afin d’assurer leur reproduction. Nous avons évalué les réactions de castors (Castor canadensis Kuhl, 1820) à des intrusions simulées de mâles adultes et subadultes. Nous avons simulé les intrusions territoriales par des expériences de récapitulation d’odeurs dans lesquelles les résidants sont exposés simultanément au castoréum d’étrangers adultes et subadultes. Nous avons enregistré les réactions de 13 résidants. Les réactions de reniflement, les réactions physiques et les réactions globales ne diffèrent pas en présence du castoréum des adultes et celui des subadultes. Cela vaut pour les deux sexes combinés ou considérés séparément. Il n’y a pas non plus de corrélation significative entre la masse du donneur d’odeur et l’intensité de la réaction. Il n’y a pas d’indication que les castors territoriaux réagissent différemment aux marques d’odeur de castoréum des intrus d’âges différents. Ou bien les castors considèrent tous les intrus comme posant une forte menace et ainsi ne les traitent pas de manière différentielle, ou bien le castoréum ne contient pas suffisamment d’information pour permettre aux castors de distinguer les classes d’âge. Nous croyons que les castors évaluent leurs compétiteurs par l’association des odeurs, plutôt que par une évaluation directe des intrus au moyen des informations intrinsèques contenues dans les marques d’odeur.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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