Odour-based discrimination of subspecies, species and sexes in an avian species complex, the crimson rosella

Mihailova,M, Berg,ML, Buchanan,KL and Bennett,ATD 2014, Odour-based discrimination of subspecies, species and sexes in an avian species complex, the crimson rosella, Animal Behaviour, vol. 95, pp. 155-164, doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.07.012.

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Title Odour-based discrimination of subspecies, species and sexes in an avian species complex, the crimson rosella
Author(s) Mihailova,M
Berg,MLORCID iD for Berg,ML orcid.org/0000-0002-5774-3089
Buchanan,KLORCID iD for Buchanan,KL orcid.org/0000-0002-6648-5819
Bennett,ATDORCID iD for Bennett,ATD orcid.org/0000-0001-8512-2805
Journal name Animal Behaviour
Volume number 95
Start page 155
End page 164
Total pages 10
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Camden, London
Publication date 2014-09
ISSN 0003-3472
Keyword(s) Avian olfaction
Conspecific discrimination
Consubspecific discrimination
Crimson rosella
Sex discrimination
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Behavioral Sciences
Summary Olfaction is an ancient sensory capability, and yet while it is now widely recognized that birds have olfactory mechanisms, use of the sense within a social context has been largely overlooked. In our study, we aimed to determine, for the first time, whether plumage odour may contribute to avian subspecies discrimination. We used a species complex, the crimson rosella, Platycercus elegans, which exhibits large geographical and phenotypic differences. Across 2 years in a wild population of P.elegans elegans we tested whether females at the nest could: (1) discriminate odours of conspecifics; (2) discriminate odours of subspecies; (3) discriminate odours of sexes of conspecifics; and (4) habituate at different rates to odour treatments. We found that female response differed between odours of feathers of consubspecifics, heterosubspecifics, heterospecific controls and sham controls and between odours of sexes of conspecifics. Across all odour treatments, we found habituation to the odour and the rate of habituation differed between odour treatments. Our results indicate that P.e. elegans females are able to discriminate conspecifics, consubspecifics and sexes based on plumage odour. To our knowledge, this is the first work to show that birds of a certain subspecies can discriminate the odour of its own subspecies from that of other subspecies. Our findings suggest that olfaction in birds may play a larger role than hitherto considered, and may even act as a signal to maintain or promote population divergence. © 2014 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.07.012
Field of Research 060801 Animal Behaviour
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2014, Elsevier
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30071091

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