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Interaction of Pheromone Communication

Not only pheromone deposition sites, but as mentioned above in the case of wolves, cats and dogs, urination ‘posts’ also serve as permanent pheromone communication centers. In the brown b...

Not only pheromone deposition sites, but as mentioned above in the case of wolves, cats and dogs, urination ‘posts’ also serve as permanent pheromone communication centers.

In the brown bear, Ursus arctos L., the use of another system of communication ~ ‘rubbing place’ ~ has been described. Members of this species select special places, usually trees for their rubbing activities and scents emanating from these sites play a role in social organization. There are main and subsidiary rubbing places in the bears’ home ranges (Tschanz et al. 1968). The European bison also has demarcation trees, to which it applies its scent marks (Hediger 1955).

Species which do not hold a fixed area to which the traditional definition of pheromonal territory could be applied also use communication point systems to regulate their spacing. A study of the interactions of groups of cheetah according to

Acinonyx fubatus Schreber, revealed that both sexes marked with their urine selected objects which stood out from the immediate environment. In open areas large trees, shrubs and stones were selected, and in heavily vegetated regions plants which contrasted with the homogeneous prevailing background. Anatomically, cheetah, in common with other cats, are highly specialized for pheromonal marking with urine. They closely examine and react to markings left by other conspecifics.

A ‘time plan’ system similar to that of domes- tic cats operates through marking points to prevent meetings between opponents occupying the same area (Eaton 1970).

As emphasized earlier it is not always in the interest of the species to prevent meetings between pheromone conspecifics. For the smooth functioning of a community there is a need for individuals to come together. Cats, seemingly solitary species, also have their social gatherings. At night they leave their territories and gather at certain places, sitting around looking at one another but not engaging in any other social activities. After 1-2 hours they disperse (Leyhausen 1971). A daily ‘general assembly’ of the strictly territorial rabbits has also been reported.

For a short time each day all members of a group would gather around the main warren disregarding their normal individual territorial ranges (Mykytowycz 1958).

Hediger (1955) also introduced another concept of the spacing of animals — the individual distance, i.e. the minimum distance within which animals of the same species may approach one another. This is not a xed physically measurable area but a space surrounding an individual. This concept is probably more evident in the behavior of man than in any other species.

There is often a tendency to emphasize the significance of pheromone odor in man’s sexual behavior (Comfort 1971a, b, ch. 20 this volume). However, this is not the only situation in which smell plays an important role in our social relationshipsPsychology Articles, particularly not in ‘class’ societies. It has been suggested that human odor is actually responsible for separating human beings (Brill 1932). We are aware of this in our everyday life and actually adjust our individual distances according to our needs. We use both our signalling and perceiving pheromonal olfactory capacities to a different extent depending upon our personal and cultural habits. The use of perfume by women and in Western societies shaving lotion by men is not necessarily an expression of the desire to become more sexually attractive but rather the wish to be readily accepted by others or to make one’s own presence more apparent.

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Alexander P is a blogger that studies pheromones. He lives in Los Angeles.

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