Economic Consequences of Scent Marking in Mammalian Territoriality

  • L. M. Gosling


The mating strategies of male mammals consist of intrasexual competition for access to females and then attempts to maximise contacts with receptive females. The form that these attempts take is strongly influenced by female movements in response to food and their tendency to form social groups. Female reproductive success (RS) is primarily (although not entirely) determined by the number of offspring that can be produced and the factors that limit this are the availability of the nutrients needed for reproduction and the chance that offspring will be killed by predators. Many aspects of female behaviour are profoundly influenced by these considerations: for example, the movements of female antelopes in relation to spatial and temporal variation in grassland quality appear to be adaptations to optimise food quality while avoiding habitats that offer cover to predators. In addition, females can reduce the chance of predation by cryptic behaviour, alone or in small groups, or by the “selfish herd” advantages of joining larger social groups. Collectively, these female behaviours appear to dictate the mating strategy that is most profitable for males to adopt (Gosling, in press). Excluding lekking, these strategies fall into two main classes: (1) males follow one or more females, waiting until they become receptive, and (2) they defend part of the food resource that females need so that they can intercept females that are attracted to the resource (Gosling, in press). This second strategy is known as “resource defence territoriality” (Emlen and Oring, 1977).


Scent Mark Territory Size Individual Recognition Agonistic Encounter Glandular Secretion 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. M. Gosling
    • 1
  1. 1.Coypu Research Laboratory MAFFNorwichUK

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