Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 12, pp 2613–2625 | Cite as

Semiochemicals and Social Signaling in the Wild European Rabbit in Australia: II. Variations in Chemical Composition of Chin Gland Secretion Across Sampling Sites

  • R. A. Hayes
  • B. J. Richardson
  • S. C. Claus
  • S. G. Wyllie


The volatile components of the chin gland secretion of the wild European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus (L.), were investigated with the use of gas chromatography. Studies of the chemical nature of this secretion by previous workers demonstrated that it was important in the maintenance of social structure in this species. This study identified 34 different volatile components that consist primarily of aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Especially common are a series of alkyl-substituted benzene derivatives that provide most of the compound diversity in the secretion. Samples of chin gland secretion collected from animals at three different geographical locations, separated by more than 100 km, showed significant differences in composition. This work suggests that variation among populations needs to be considered when undertaking semiochemical research. Alternate nonparametric methods are also used for the analysis of chromatographic data.

Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus social structure glandular secretion gas chromatography mass spectrometry behavior chemolfactory communication multidimensional scaling variation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. A. Hayes
    • 1
  • B. J. Richardson
    • 1
  • S. C. Claus
    • 1
  • S. G. Wyllie
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Biostructural and Biomolecular ResearchUniversity of Western SydneyAustralia

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