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

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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.

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Svendsen, G.E. Patterns of scent-mounding in a population of beaver (Castor canadensis). J Chem Ecol 6, 133–148 (1980).

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