Chemical communication in societies of rodents

Jane L. Hurst and Robert J. Beynon

in Sociobiology of Communication

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199216840
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191712043 | DOI:
 Chemical communication in societies of rodents

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Scents play a central role in rodent societies, communicating information about identity (species, sex, individual, kinship) and status (social, reproductive, health, age). This requires the interaction between volatile and involatile molecular components of scents, the spatial deposition pattern of scent marks, and time of deposition. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and major urinary proteins (MUPs) are both highly polymorphic systems that contribute to scents. Most studies have focused on MHC in inbred laboratory rodents. However, studies of wild rodents are revealing that MUPs provide a species and sex-specific genetic identity signature that also underlies individual and kin recognition in house mice. MUPs are mediators of both identity and current status information. Although MHC contributes to the recognition of familiar scents, there is little evidence that it provides direct information about genetic identity.

Keywords: house mice; olfactory communication; vomeronasal system; pheromones; major histocompatibility complex; major urinary proteins; dominance; kin recognition; individual recognition

Chapter.  13051 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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