Navigation Links
Beavers use their noses to assess their foes

For territorial animals, such as beavers, "owning" a territory ensures access to food, mates and nest sites. Defending that territory can involve fights which cause injury or death. How does an animal decide whether to take on an opponent or not? A new study by Helga Tinnesand and her colleagues from the Telemark University College in Norway has found that the anal gland secretions of beavers contain information about age and social status which helps other beavers gauge their level of response to the perceived threat. The study is published online today in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Beavers are monogamous, highly territorial rodents with a territory usually consisting of a dominant pair in a long-term relationship and their offspring. Offspring usually leave to find their own mates and territories at the age of two and aggressive encounters are common at this time. Beavers use anal gland secretions to mark their territories and this has been found to contain a variety of information such as animal species, subspecies, gender, individuality and kinship.

The researchers hypothesized that information about social status and age or body size may also be contained in the anal gland secretions of male beavers. This would enable established territory owners to accurately assess the level of threat posed by an intruder.

To find out whether this might be the case, anal gland secretions samples were taken from a territory owner and one of his sons, with the son being either aged 2-7 or a yearling. The researchers placed the samples in other beavers' territories within sniffing distance of each other so the beaver could detect them both at a similar time. This allowed an accurate assessment of which anal gland secretions sample the resident beavers showed the most interest in.

Tinnesand and her colleagues found that resident beavers spent more time sniffing anal gland secretions from older sons and yearlings than their fathers. They also showed a stronger physical response towards scent from older sons. The authors contend that this is because the older sons, who are sexually mature, would be more likely to get involved in a physical confrontation to obtain a territory. Yearlings are sexually immature, are usually still living in their family unit and would also be too small to constitute a real threat. Other territory owners are not seen as potential opponents, as they are already well established in their own dwellings.

The authors conclude that "resident territorial beavers showed the strongest territorial response towards older subordinate sons, suggesting that they are considered a bigger territorial threat. These results indicate that territory owners can be identified by scent."


Contact: Joan Robinson

Related biology news :

1. Do beavers benefit Scottish wild salmon?
2. Busy beavers give Canada geese a lift, study shows
3. 2 servings of salmon a week is healthy for pregnant women and their babies
4. Study finds peoples niceness may reside in their genes
5. Lizard moms may prepare their babies for a stressful world
6. Deterring signals: Tobacco plants advertise their defensive readiness to attacking leafhoppers
7. Vampire jumping spiders identify victims by their antennae
8. New Tool Helps Drug Developers Optimize Their Research and Target Development for Better Results and a Stronger Competitive Edge
9. Parasitic plants steal genes from their hosts
10. Cougars are re-populating their historical range, new study confirms
11. Research: Many programs to help diabetics manage their health do work
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/8/2015)... , Oct. 8, 2015 Synaptics ... human interface solutions, announced today that it will ... fiscal 2016 on Thursday, October 22, 2015, after ... a corresponding conference call for analysts and investors ... which management may discuss forward-looking information.    ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... , October 8, 2015 ... or the "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused ... of the Wocket® smart wallet announces that revenues ... were approximately $410,000 compared with $113,00 for the ... the 9 months ended September 30, 2015 were ...
(Date:10/7/2015)... -- NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), ... commerce market and creator of the Wocket® smart wallet ... term executive at American Express has been appointed to ... ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused ... the Wocket® smart wallet announces Mr. Stanley E. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2015)...  DePuy Synthes Trauma* announced today the U.S. launch ... Technology**, the only pre-hydrated demineralized cancellous bone tissue matrix ... ankle, hand and wrist), including fusion, and for filling ... 2015 Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) Annual Meeting. ... bone growth) and osteoinductive 2,3 (stimulates new bone ...
(Date:10/9/2015)... ... October 09, 2015 , ... From blood to ... separating those cells from their surroundings for research, diagnostics, and cell therapy—also known ... address this, Ann Arbor-based startup Akadeum Life Sciences is developing a ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... CARDIFF, UK (PRWEB) , ... October 08, 2015 , ... ... to literally see inside the living brain, providing a new tool to study how ... work is reported by Woo June Choi and Ruikang Wang of the UW Department ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... 8, 2015  Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:  SRNE; ... for cancer and associated pain, announced today that Dr. Henry ... presenting at the Aegis Capital Corporation 2015 Growth ... Capital Corporation 2015 Growth ConferenceDate:Friday, October 9, 2015Time:10:00 ... @ The Wynn in Las Vegas, NV , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: