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The Pheromones in Animals

The pheromones expressed the idea that animals use visual, acoustic and olfactory methods to mark the possession of space (Hediger 1944, 1949, 1950, 1955, 1956). The role of odor in the behavior of an...

The pheromones expressed the idea that animals use visual, acoustic and olfactory methods to mark the possession of space (Hediger 1944, 1949, 1950, 1955, 1956). The role of odor in the behavior of animals generally, and in territoriality particularly, has been reviewed recently (Gleason and Reynierse 1969; Ewer 1968; Mykytowycz 1970, 1972; Ralls 1971).

Pheromone scent deposited in the space becomes a substitute for the animal itself and continues to be an effective message in the absence of the signalling animal. In the behavior of primitive man odor is not only used in many cases for object marking, but also for placing of a spell or taboo — as defense measures against rivals and demons.

Medicinemen in the bazaars of Morocco sell tarry preparations in short lengths of sheep intestine which the Berbers apply to the four corners of their huts or houses to ward off evil spirits (Hediger 1955). Among the desert Arabs the sense of smell still plays an important role. While other cultural groups—for instance the southern Europeans—fear the ‘evil-eye’, the Bedouins fear nothing so much as the ‘evil smell’ (Musil quoted by Brill 1932) according to

Although the social space of animals is usually viewed as an area defined by visual or olfactory signals which affect the movements of individuals, there is evidence available that the overall physiology of animals is inuenced by the ‘atomosphere’ of the owned space so that their moods are affected and they become predisposed to particular behavioral activities (Mykytowycz 1973).

Strange space may have the opposite effect on the animals’ behavior with pheromones. The aim of this pheromones chapter is to emphasize that apart from territory in the strict sense of its meaning animals possess a whole range of space requirements superimposed upon one another which com- plicate and confuse the overall picture of space utilization. In all spatial requirements odor marking is characteristically used and plays an important role in defining the different types of areas.

The different space requirements of mammals are matched by their ability to mark differentially the separate types of living space. There is an indication that the size and secretory activity of odor producing organs change in relation to sex, reproductive state, age, social status and behavioral status generally. Thus the production of odor is strengthened by the urge of the individual to distribute it.

There are also changes in the chemistry of secretions functioning for marking purposes related to the same factors. Variations occur not only in the ability of animals to produce but also to perceive odors which undoubtedly affect their behavior towards different types of social space. At different stages in the reproductive cycle individuals have different space requirements and it has been reported for some species, including man, that changes in the olfactory system and the ability to detect certain odors are correlated with the reproductive cycles (Mykytowycz 1970).

Age, social status and other factors also affect the relationship of the individual to different types of social space. For instance, at the height of the breeding season of the wild European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus (L.), when territoriality is strictly observed by adults, some juveniles display a tendency to disperse and disregarding territorial boundaries move into new group territories. Of course aggression is not entirely absent in these movementsArticle Submission, but it is to the benefit of the species that some young individuals become integrated into new social groups.

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Alexander P is a blogger that studies pheromones.

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