Chemoreception in Seabirds

  • Bernice M. Wenzel


In a world rich in odors, only the birds as a major group have been generally regarded as insensitive or oblivious to such stimuli—even, in Wood Jones’s (1937a) phrase, as emancipated from olfactory dominance. Yet olfaction is one of the three great modalities for distance communication, functioning as effectively in an aerial habitat as in terrestrial or aquatic habitats. Perhaps our own diminished sensitivity to external chemical messages and our inability to sustain an aerial existence have influenced our opinions about olfactory functioning in birds. Notably, however, we feel no such hesitation in the case of flying insects, which are readily accepted as being critically guided by odor signals. In contrast, taste seems to present less of a problem. Birds, like most other creatures, must ingest food through the mouth, and nothing seems more reasonable than that this food would be selected partly on the basis of taste.


Olfactory Bulb Olfactory System Olfactory Nerve Olfactory Mucosa Giant Petrel 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernice M. Wenzel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and Brain Research InstituteUCLA School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA

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