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Sociobiology of Communicationan interdisciplinary perspective$
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Patrizia d'Ettorre and David P. Hughes

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199216840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216840.001.0001

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Chemical communication in societies of rodents

Chemical communication in societies of rodents

(p.97) CHAPTER 6 Chemical communication in societies of rodents
Sociobiology of Communication

Jane L. Hurst

Robert J. Beynon

Oxford University Press

Scents play a central role in rodent societies, communicating information about identity (species, sex, individual, kinship) and status (social, reproductive, health, age). This requires the interaction between volatile and involatile molecular components of scents, the spatial deposition pattern of scent marks, and time of deposition. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and major urinary proteins (MUPs) are both highly polymorphic systems that contribute to scents. Most studies have focused on MHC in inbred laboratory rodents. However, studies of wild rodents are revealing that MUPs provide a species and sex-specific genetic identity signature that also underlies individual and kin recognition in house mice. MUPs are mediators of both identity and current status information. Although MHC contributes to the recognition of familiar scents, there is little evidence that it provides direct information about genetic identity.

Keywords:   house mice, olfactory communication, vomeronasal system, pheromones, major histocompatibility complex, major urinary proteins, dominance, kin recognition, individual recognition

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