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Keywords:

  • Milne-Edwards' sifaka;
  • olfactory communication;
  • territoriality;
  • dominance status;
  • natal status

Abstract

Scent-marking behavior has been well documented in many primate species. Three common functions attributed to scent-marking in males of multi-male/multi-female lemur species include: 1) advertisement of individual identity, 2) territorial defense, and 3) reproductive suppression. We examined the average number of scent-marks per hour exhibited daily by adult male sifakas (Propithecus edwardsi) and found that patterns of scent-marking changed with season, natal status, and dominance status. Males in single-male groups scent-marked at the highest rate, followed by dominant males, males of equal status, and subordinate males. Non-natal males generally scent-marked at higher rates than natal males, and adult males living in a natal group without a parent marked at higher rates than males living with a parent. All males scent-marked at higher rates in the migration season compared to the other seasons. These patterns were consistent with territorial defense and advertisement to females, and the suggestion that these chemical signals impart information concerning status. Since scent-marking behavior tracked seasons and varied with both dominance and natal status, it may serve multiple functions in males. Am. J. Primatol. 65:103–115, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.