Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 133–148 | Cite as

Patterns of scent-mounding in a population of beaver (Castor canadensis)

  • Gerald E. Svendsen


The frequency and pattern of distribution of scent-mound construction were studied in a population of beaver in southeast Ohio from 1975 through 1977. The study addressed the questions of whether or not the frequency of scent-mound construction varied with season, site, year, and degree of contact with other family groups, and whether the pattern of scent-mounding activity was parsimonious with the idea of “territorial marking.” The number of scent-mounds constructed was determined weekly for each site throughout the ice-free season. Scent-mounding activity was highest in spring and declined and remained low during summer and fall. Significant differences were found amoung sites and over years. Contact with other resident family groups altered both frequency and pattern of scent-mound construction. Scent-mounds did not conform to a “scent-fence” model. The most parsimonious interpretation of function of odor cues deposited on scent-mounds is the effect on the motivational state of residents and nonresidents, increasing the confidence and reducing anxiety in residents smelling their own scent-mound and decreasing the confidence and increasing the readiness to flee in trespassers encountering a strange scent-mound.

Key words

Castor canadensis beaver scent communication territorially social organization behavior 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aleksiuk, M. 1968. Scent-mound communication, territoriality and population regulation in beaver (Castor canadensis Kuhl).J. Mammal. 49:759–762.Google Scholar
  2. Beer, J.R. 1955. Movements of tagged beaver.J. Mammal 19:492–493.Google Scholar
  3. Dixon, W. (ed.). 1974. Biomedical Computer Programs. University of California Press, Los Angeles, California, 773 pp.Google Scholar
  4. DoboszyŃska, T., andZurowski, W. 1975. Changes observed in the reproductive tract of a beaver female after high dosages of gonadotropic hormones.Acta Theriol. 20:105–112.Google Scholar
  5. Eisenberg, J.F., andKleiman, D.G. 1972. Olfactory communication in mammals.Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 3:1–32.Google Scholar
  6. Ewer, R.F. 1968. Ethology of Mammals. Plenum Press, New York, 418 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Hediger, H. 1949. Säugetierterritorien und ihre Markierung.Bijdr. Dierkde 28:172–184.Google Scholar
  8. Kleiman, D. 1966. Scent-marking in the Canidae.Symp. Zool. Soc. London 18:167–177.Google Scholar
  9. Krames, L., Carr, W., andBergman, B. 1969. A pheromone associated with social dominance among male rats.Psychonom. Sci. 16:11–12.Google Scholar
  10. Lederer, E. 1949. Chemistry and biochemistry of some mammalian secretions and excretions.J. Chem. Soc. (London) 2115–2119.Google Scholar
  11. Lederer, E. 1950. Odeurs et parfums des animaux.Fortshr. Chem. Org. Naturst. 6:87–153.Google Scholar
  12. Mech, L.D., andPeters, R.P. 1977. The study of chemical communication in free-ranging mammals, pp. 321–332,in D. Müller-Schwarze and M.M. Mozell (eds.), Chemical Signals in Vertebrates. Plenum Press, N.Y., 609 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Müller-Schwarze, D. 1971. Pheromones in black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus).Anim. Behav. 19:141–152.Google Scholar
  14. Mykytowycz, R., Hesterman, E., Gambale, S., andDudzinski, M. 1976. A comparison of the effectiveness of the odors of rabbits,Oryctolagus cuniculm, in enhancing territorial confidence.J. Chem. Ecol. 2:13–24.Google Scholar
  15. Nei, N., Hull, C., Jenkins, J., Steinbrenner, K., andBent, D. 1970. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. McGraw-Hill, New York, 675 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Peters, R., andMech, L.D. 1975. Scent-marking in wolves.Am. Sci. 63:628–637.Google Scholar
  17. Provost, E. 1958. Studies on reproduction and population dynamics in beaver. Unpubl. PhD dissertation, Washington State University, Spokane, 788 pp.Google Scholar
  18. Ralls, K. 1971. Mammalian scent marking.Science 171:443–449.Google Scholar
  19. Sokal, R.R., andRohlf, R.J. 1969. Biometry. W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco, 776 pp.Google Scholar
  20. Svendsen, G.E. 1978. Castor and anal glands of the beaver (Castor canadensis).J. Mammal. 619–620.Google Scholar
  21. Svendsen, G.E. 1979a. Territoriality and behavior in a population of pikas (Ochotona princeps).J. Mammal. 60:324–330.Google Scholar
  22. Svendsen, G.E. 1979b. Seasonal change in feeding patterns of beaver (Castor canadensis) in southeast Ohio.J. Wildl. Manage. Submitted.Google Scholar
  23. Taylor, D. 1970. Growth, decline, and equilibrium in a beaver population at Sagehen Creek, California. Unpubl. PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 162 pp.Google Scholar
  24. Theissen, D. 1972. Footholds for survival.Am. Sci. 61:346–351.Google Scholar
  25. Theissen, D., andRice, M. 1976. Mammalian scent gland marking and social behavior.Psychol. Bull. 83:505–539.Google Scholar
  26. Valenta, J., andRigby, M. 1968. Discrimination of odor of stressed rats.Science 161:599–601.Google Scholar
  27. Valenta, Z., andKhaleque, A. 1959. The structure of castoramine. Tetrahedron Lett. 12:1–5.Google Scholar
  28. Valenta, Z., Khaleque, A., andRashid, M.H. 1961.cis-Cyclohexane-1,2 diol in the beaver gland.Experientia 17:130.Google Scholar
  29. Wilsson, L. 1971. Observations and experiments on the ethology of the European beaver (Castor fiber L.).Viltrevy 8: 116–261.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald E. Svendsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and MicrobiologyOhio UniversityAthens

Personalised recommendations