Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Beavers use their nose to assess their foes

Date:
April 9, 2013
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Beavers use scent to detect when trespassers could be a threat, according to new research. 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 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.

Study says beavers use scent to detect when trespassers could be a threat.

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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Helga Veronica Tinnesand, Susan Jojola, Andreas Zedrosser, Frank Rosell. The smell of desperadoes? Beavers distinguish between dominant and subordinate intruders. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1512-y

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Beavers use their nose to assess their foes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130409091223.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2013, April 9). Beavers use their nose to assess their foes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130409091223.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Beavers use their nose to assess their foes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130409091223.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 13, 2014) Roars of excitement as a proud lioness shows off her four cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins