Olfactory communication in tamarins: A comparative analysis of scents from wild and captive populations
Keywords:Callitrichids, Captive primates, Chemical signalling, Scent gland, Semiochemistry, Zoo Animals
Animals deposit odorant signals during social interactions, and to mark territories and resources. Odorants may be direct by-products of essential biochemical pathways, derived from diet and the environment, and/or produced by commensal bacteria. Accordingly, animals in captivity, which are provisioned with artificial diets and environments, may produce a different range of odorants than their wild counterparts. Few studies have compared chemosignalling in wild and captive conspecifics. This study begins to address this gap by investigating the effect of captivity on chemosignalling in the bearded emperor tamarin, Saguinus imperator subgrisescens. Scent samples collected from eight wild tamarins and investigated by headspace solid-phase microextraction coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry contained a greater number of identified odorants than those collected from five captive tamarins and analysed under the same conditions. Wild and captive scent samples also showed a marked overall difference in chemical composition, although some of this variation may be due to demographic differences between the study populations, the limited sample size and different storage conditions. These results suggest that captivity might alter primate chemosignalling, with potential implications for primate captive husbandry practices and conservation breeding programmes.
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