Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 673–689 | Cite as

Factors Affecting Scent-Marking Behavior in Eurasian Beaver (Castor fiber)

  • Frank Rosell
  • Bart A. Nolet


We tested the hypothesis that a main function of territory marking in Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) is defense of the territory. The results showed that: (1) beaver colonies with close neighbors scent-mark more often than isolated ones; (2) the number of scent markings increased significantly with the number of neighboring territories and individuals, the mean distance to all other territories, duration of territory occupancy and length of wooded banks within the territory; (3) the number of scent markings by a colony was not related to the number of animals in the colony, the distance to nearest neighbors' main resting-site, or age of beaver; (4) the number of scent mounds or scent markings in territories with breeding and nonbreeding beaver did not differ; (5) there was no significant difference in the number of scent markings during the season (16 April–31 August); and (6) some of the scent mounds were concentrated at feeding sites, resting sites, and near trails, but most had no apparent relationship to any of these sites. Therefore we concluded that scent marking apparently plays an important role in territory defense of the Eurasian beaver.

Beaver Castor fiber scent communication scent mound scent marking radiotelemetry territorial behavior Netherlands 


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 (C. canadensis Kuhl). J. Mammal. 49:759–762.Google Scholar
  2. ANDERSSON, A., and WESTERLING, P. 1984. Doftmarkering hos europeisk bäver. Viltnytt 19:2–12.Google Scholar
  3. BEER, J. R. 1955. Movements of tagged beaver. J. Wildl. Manage. 19:492–493.Google Scholar
  4. BERGERUD, A. T., and MILLER, D. R. 1977. Population dynamics of Newfoundland beaver. Can. J. Zool. 55:1480–1492.Google Scholar
  5. BOLLINGER, K. S. 1980. Scent marking behavior of beaver (Castor canadensis). MS thesis. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 186 pp.Google Scholar
  6. BUECH, R. R. 1995. Sex differences in behavior of beavers living in near-boreal lake habitat. Can. J. Zool. 73:2133–2143.Google Scholar
  7. BUTLER, R. G., and BUTLER, L. A. 1979. Towards a functional interpretation of scent marking in the beaver (Castor canadensis). Behav. Neural Biol. 26:442–454.Google Scholar
  8. FABEL, J. W. 1977. Scent-mounding in a population of beaver (Castor canadensis) in southwest Ohio. MS thesis. Ohio University, Athens, 18 pp.Google Scholar
  9. GEIST, V. 1964. On the rutting behavior of the mountain goat. J. Mammal. 45:551–568.Google Scholar
  10. GORMAN, M. L. 1990. Scent marking strategies in mammals. Rev. Suisse Zool. 97:3–29.Google Scholar
  11. GOSLING, L. M. 1982. A reassessment of the function of scent marking in territories. Z. Tierpsychol. 60:89–118.Google Scholar
  12. GOSLING, L. M. 1990. Scent marking by resource holders. Alternative mechanisms for advertising the costs of competition, pp. 315–328, in D. W. Macdonald, D. Müller-Schwarze, and S. E. Natynczuk (eds.). Chemical Signals in Vertebrates. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  13. HARTMAN, G. 1994. Ecological studies of a reintroduced beaver (Castor fiber) population. PhD dissertation. The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.Google Scholar
  14. HAY, K. G. 1958. Beaver census methods in the Rocky Mountain region. J. Wildl. Manage. 22:395–402.Google Scholar
  15. HEDIGER, H. 1949. Säugetier-Territorien und ihre Markierung. Bijdr. Dierkd. 28:172–184.Google Scholar
  16. HEIDECKE, D. 1991. Zum Status des Elbebibers sowie etho-ökologische Aspekte. Seevögel 12:33–38.Google Scholar
  17. HODGDON, H. E. 1978. Social dynamics and behavior within an unexploited beaver (Castor canadensis) population. PhD dissertation. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 292 pp.Google Scholar
  18. HOULIHAN, P. M. 1989. Scent mounding by beaver (Castor canadensis): Functional and semiochemical aspects. MS thesis. State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, 184 pp.Google Scholar
  19. KLENNER-FRINGES, B. 1992. Revitalization of river banks by the beaver (Castor fiber albicus Matschie, 1907)—a research project, pp. 141–153, in R. Schröpfer, M. Stubbe and D. Heidecke (eds.). Semiaquatische Säugetiere. Wissenschaftliche Beiträge/Martin-Luther-Universität, Halle-Wittenberg.Google Scholar
  20. MAYNARD SMITH, J. 1976. Evolution and the theory of games. Am. Sci. 64:41–45.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. MAYNARD SMITH, J., and PARKER, G. A. 1976. The logic of asymmetric contest. Anim. Behav. 24:159–175.Google Scholar
  22. MOLINI, J. J., LANCIA, R. A., BISHIR, J., and HODGDON, H. E. 1980. A stochastic model of beaver population growth, pp. 1215–1245, in J. A. Chapman and D. Pursey (eds.). Proceedings, Worldwide Furbearer Conference, Frostburg, Maryland.Google Scholar
  23. MÜLLER-SCHWARZE, D., and HECKMAN, S. 1980. The social role of scent marking in beaver (Castor canadensis). J. Chem. Ecol. 6:81–95.Google Scholar
  24. MÜLLER-SCHWARZE, D., and HOULIHAN, P. W. 1991. Pheromonal activity of single castoreum constituents in beaver, Castor canadensis. J. Chem. Ecol. 17:715–734.Google Scholar
  25. MYKYTOWYCZ, R. 1965. Further observations on the territorial function and histology of the submandibular cutaneous (chin) glands in the rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus (L.). Anim. Behav. 13:400–412.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. NITSCHE, K. A. 1985. Reviermarkierung beim Elbebiber (Castor fiber albicus). Mitt. Zool. Ges. Braunau. 4:259–273.Google Scholar
  27. NOLET, B. A. 1995. Distribution and number of beaver Castor fiber in the Netherlands in the period 1988–1994. Lutra 38:30–40.Google Scholar
  28. NOLET, B. A., and ROSELL, F. 1994. Territoriality and time budgets in beavers during sequential settlement. Can. J. Zool. 72:1227–1237.Google Scholar
  29. NOLET, B. A., VAN DER VEER, P. J., EVERS, E. G. J., OTTENHEIM, M. M. 1995. A linear programming model of diet choice of free-living beavers. Neth. J. Zool. 45:315–337.Google Scholar
  30. NORUSIS, M. J. 1990. SPSS Base System User's Guide. SPSS, Inc., Chicago.Google Scholar
  31. PIECHOCKI, R. 1977. Ökologische Todesursachenforschung am Elbebiber (Castor fiber albicus). Beitr. Jagd. Wildforsch. 10:332–341.Google Scholar
  32. RICHARDSON, P. R. K. 1991. Territorial significance of scent marking during the non-mating season in the aardwolf Proteles cristatus (Carnivora: Protelidae). Ethology 87:9–27.Google Scholar
  33. SCHULTE, B. A. 1993. Chemical communication and ecology of the North American beaver (Castor canadensis). PhD dissertation. State University New York, Syracuse, 194 pp.Google Scholar
  34. SCHULTE, B. A., MULLER-SCHWARZE, D., TANG, R., and WEBSTER, F. X. 1994. Beaver (Castor canadensis) responses to major phenolic and neutral compounds in castoreum. J. Chem. Ecol. 20:3063–3081.Google Scholar
  35. SIEGEL, S., and CASTELLAN, N. J. 1988. Nonparametric Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences. McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  36. SVENDSEN, G. E. 1980a. Patterns of scent-mounding in a population of beaver (Castor canadensis). J. Chem. Ecol. 6:133–148.Google Scholar
  37. SVENDSEN, G. E. 1980b. Population parameters and colony composition of beaver (Castor canadensis) in southeast Ohio. Am. Midl. Nat. 104:47–56.Google Scholar
  38. TANG, R., WEBSTER, F. X., and MÜLLER-SCHWARZE, D. 1993. Phenolic compounds from male castoreum of North American beaver, Castor canadensis. J. Chem. Ecol. 19:1491–1500.Google Scholar
  39. TOWNSEND, J. E. 1953. Beaver ecology in western Montana with special reference to movements. J. Mammal. 34:459–479.Google Scholar
  40. WALRO, J. M. 1980. Castor and anal glands of North American beaver (Castor canadensis): Histology and communicatory functions of secretions. PhD dissertation. Ohio University, Athens, 98 pp.Google Scholar
  41. WELSH, R. G., and MÜLLER-SCHWARZE, D. 1989. Experimental habitat scenting inhibits colonization by beaver, Castor canadensis. J. Chem. Ecol. 15:887–893.Google Scholar
  42. WILSSON, L. 1971. Observations and experiments on the ethology of the European beaver (Castor fiber L.) Viltrevy 8:115–266.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Rosell
  • Bart A. Nolet

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations