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Role of odour in the suppression of reproduction in female naked mole-rats and common marmosets and the social organisation of these two species

Smith, Tessa Ellen; (1994) Role of odour in the suppression of reproduction in female naked mole-rats and common marmosets and the social organisation of these two species. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The role of odour and behavioural cues relating to social dominance, in the suppression of reproduction which occurs in group living subordinate female naked mole-rats (a rodent) and common marmosets (a primate) was investigated. The role of odour in regulating intra-group relations was investigated also. Non-breeding subordinate female naked mole-rats were physically isolated from the parent colony whilst maintaining them in olfactory contact with the parent colony and social contact with all members of the parent colony except the breeding pair. All experimental females became reproductively active within 3 days of physical isolation from the parent colony. The results suggested that a behavioural mechanism involving direct contact with the queen caused suppression of reproduction in female naked mole-rats in the colony. Two-choice discrimination tests showed that body odour and urine of naked mole-rats contained chemical information signalling the social and reproductive status of an animal. It was surmised that naked mole-rats might use this odour information to regulate behavioural interactions in the colony and to infer their own social and reproductive status. Subordinate female common marmosets were removed from the social group, singly-housed and maintained in scent contact only with an unfamiliar dominant female. Odour from the resident dominant female (Barrett et al., 1990) but not an unfamiliar dominant female (this thesis) maintained suppression of female reproduction. It was concluded that subordinate female common marmosets elicit a conditioned response of subordination to the individual odour profile identifying the resident dominant female. Two-choice discrimination tests, established that the circumgenital scent mark of the common marmoset contained chemical cues encoding for individual identity gender and female ovarian status. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the chemical composition of the circumgenital scent mark using gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and multivariate statistical analysis showed that the biological activity of the scent was caused by interactions between quantitative characteristics of highly volatile, semi-volatile and non-volatile (proteinaceous) chemicals.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Role of odour in the suppression of reproduction in female naked mole-rats and common marmosets and the social organisation of these two species
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Biological sciences; Marmoset; Naked mole-rats; Odour
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106683
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