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Title: Odour signals contain multi-modal information in the banded mongoose (Mungos mungo)
Author: Mitchell, J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 3688
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2017
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Communication can be crucial to the profitability of reproduction by allowing individuals to attract and select an appropriate mate. Across mammals, successful reproduction can depend on the ability of individuals to gain information such as relatedness, health parameters and breeding status from potential mates. Although visual and auditory signals are utilised, scent is a crucial and ancient form of communication yet, with the exception of certain model systems, we understand little of how it functions in wild mammals. This thesis will focus on the mechanistic role of odour signals: what information they contain and how they may facilitate reproductive decision-making in the banded mongoose (Mungos mungo). I use a wild but habituated population to conduct experimental odour presentations showing these mammals are capable of discriminating scents based on sex, familiarity, relatedness and female reproductive state. The ability of odours to encode such multi-modal information suggests they may facilitate key behavioural processes such as kin recognition, mate-choice and competitive interactions. However, the discrimination of pregnancy specifically implies scent cues function within reproductive decision-making, attracting males to receptive mates. The gastro-intestinal parasite community of this banded mongoose population was also screened, allowing the ability of odour cues to advertise parasitic infection to be tested. Observations show highly parasitised individuals scent-mark less frequently, suggesting marking behaviour indicates quality in terms of parasite burdens. Furthermore, experimental odour presentations show that banded mongooses exhibit behavioural aversions toward odours of heavily infected individuals. Scent cues, in the banded mongoose system, thus appear to encode a multitude of information relevant to reproduction.
Supervisor: Nichols, H. ; Brown, R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: QH301 Biology ; QL Zoology