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Castoreum of Beaver (Castor Canadensis): Function, Chemistry and Biological Activity of Its Components

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Chemical Signals in Vertebrates 6

Abstract

Castoreum, the paste found in the paired castor sacs of both sexes in beaver, Castor canadensis and C. fiber, has been used for medicines and perfumes since time immemorial. The Romans burned castoreum in lamps and believed that the fumes caused abortions (McCully, 1969). Trappers have attracted beaver to castoreum lures for a long time. As for the natural history of castoreum, Audubon first published a trapper’s report of mud piles topped with strong-smelling castoreum that beaver built at the banks of their ponds. Two neighbor colonies alternated in marking, accumulating mud piles up to five feet high (Audubon and Bachman, 1849). To this date, we don’t know the precise role scent mounds play in the behavior, physiology and population ecology of the beaver. Aleksiuk (1968) proposed that scent marks may warn transient beaver away from occupied territories and that scent mounding may be an epideictic display sensu Wynne Edwards (1962) that communicates population density.

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Müller-Schwarze, D. (1992). Castoreum of Beaver (Castor Canadensis): Function, Chemistry and Biological Activity of Its Components. In: Doty, R.L., Müller-Schwarze, D. (eds) Chemical Signals in Vertebrates 6. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4757-9655-1_70

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4757-9655-1_70

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4757-9657-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4757-9655-1

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