, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 135-146

A preliminary study of olfactory behavior of captiveLemur coronatus during the breeding season

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Abstract

The olfactory behavior of a captive population of crowned lemurs (Lemur coronatus)was studied during their annual breeding season in order to investigate its possible role in the fine-tuning of mating synchrony after photoperiodic initiation of reproductive activity. The frequencies of five stereotyped olfactory behavior patterns were recorded in four male-female groups during 315 1-hr observation sessions between October and March. The mean total scent-marking frequency of all males was positively correlated with their mean testicular size. Male anogenital-, head-, and allomarking frequencies decreased during the breeding season, whereas hand-marking frequencies remained constant. Male head-marking increased significantly in the 5 days preceding female vaginal estrus. Furthermore, males responded to many female scents by olfactory investigation and/or overmarking, whereas females never showed an observable behavioral response to male scent marks. The marking frequencies of two females did not change significantly during the breeding season, while those of two others decreased significantly. These results suggest qualitative changes of female scents during estrus and a less important role of male scents in intersexual communication in the context of reproduction than previously thought.