Do Carnivores Have a World Wide Web of Interspecific Scent Signals?

  • Peter AppsEmail author
  • Kasim Rafiq
  • J. Weldon McNutt
Conference paper


The orthodox view of mammalian chemical communication is that individuals exchange information with members of their own species, but there is now a growing body of evidence that carnivores also send messages to members of different species. A camera trapping study in northern Botswana captured video of 21 species of carnivore, of which 18 scent marked a total of 105 times. Seventeen marks countermarked scent from the same species, and 24 marks countermarked scent from a different species. Of the 39 species of carnivore in southern Africa, 24 are involved in some kind of interspecific scent marking, and smaller webs of interspecific scent marking are found among carnivores in Europe, Australia, north and central America, and the Himalayas. Interspecific scent communication has been missed in the past due to an almost exclusive focus on single-species studies, and because the tool that is essential to study it; camera trapping, has come into widespread use only in the past decade. Now we know that interspecific scent marking is common and widespread, we need to take a closer look at it to understand its role in carnivore guild ecology.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Botswana Predator Conservation TrustMaunBotswana
  2. 2.School of Natural Science and PsychologyLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

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