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The social role of scent marking in beaver (Castor Canadensis)

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Beaver colonies with close neighbors constructed more “scent mounds” than did isolated colonies, and the number of scent mounds at each active lodge is correlated with the distance to the nearest occupied lodge. The scent mounds were typically located at trails, also on lodges and dams. The beaver rebuilt experimentally removed scent mounds. Experimentally scent-marked unoccupied lodges were less often visited or inhabited than unscented control lodges. Resident beaver responded to artificial scent marks near their lodges with aggressive behavior and increased activity. We conclude that scent mounds serve in delineating family territories and are effective in deterring transient beaver from utilizing existing but uninhabited lodges.

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Müller-Schwarze, D., Heckman, S. The social role of scent marking in beaver (Castor Canadensis). J Chem Ecol 6, 81–95 (1980).

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