Do Urinary Chemosignals Code for Sex, Age, and Season in the Giant Panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca?
The urinary volatile compounds of captive giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, were analysed with GC-MS (gas chromatography and mass spectrometry). Samples were collected from adult males and females during the mating season, as well as from adult and sub-adult males during the non-mating season. We detected more than 96 compounds, 50 of which were common to all individuals. The major volatile constituents were ketones, phenols, alcohols, and fatty acids. No single compound was found to be specific for characterising sex, age, and season. MANOVA analysis on the relative abundance of compounds showed that adult males and females differ in four urinary compounds in the mating season and adult males differ in seven compounds between the mating and the non-mating seasons. We also found significant age effects on the relative abundance of urinary compounds in males in the non-mating season. This result suggests that those compounds might be the potential chemosignals signalling information about male pandas’ age, sex, and reproductive state.
KeywordsGiant Panda Mating Season Deer Mouse Asian Elephant MANOVA Analysis
We are grateful to Professors Helin Luan and Wen Yao for their help in GC-MS analysis. We also thank the staff at the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda at Wolong for their assistance in sample collection. This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant #30470233, #30230080, #30070107), the Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (Grant #98002717), and the grant from the China Wildlife Conservation Association (Grant #96035) and the International Cooperation Projects of Giant Pandas from State Forestry Administration, P. R. China (Grant #WH0309, #WH0306, #SD0630).
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