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Carpal glands in feral pigs (Sus domesticus) in tropical lowland rainforest in north-east Queensland, Australia

Authors

  • S. Heise-Pavlov,

    Corresponding author
    1. PavEcol, 211 Turpentine Road, Diwan, via Mossman, 4873, Queensland, Australia
      All correspondence to: S. Heise-Pavlov, PavEcol, 211 Turpentine Road, Diwan, via Mossman, 4873, Queensland, Australia. E-mail: pavecol@ledanet.com.au
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  • P. Heise-Pavlov,

    1. PavEcol, 211 Turpentine Road, Diwan, via Mossman, 4873, Queensland, Australia
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  • A. Bradley

    1. School of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology, The University of Queensland, Australia
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All correspondence to: S. Heise-Pavlov, PavEcol, 211 Turpentine Road, Diwan, via Mossman, 4873, Queensland, Australia. E-mail: pavecol@ledanet.com.au

Abstract

Carpal glands (CG) of 105 feral pigs Sus domesticus, caught in the tropical lowland rainforest in north-east Queensland, Australia, between 1999 and 2004, were investigated to examine their function in chemical communication between animals, and their histology. Female feral pigs show significantly larger CG on the right leg than on the left leg while there were no side-specific differences in males. CG on both legs were significantly larger in reproductive than in non-reproductive females, but they did not differ between pregnant and lactating females. The results suggest that CG are involved in the defensive behaviour of reproductive females but not in the identification of the mother by piglets. The area of the left CG was significantly bigger in males compared to females, but no significant difference could be shown for the CG on the right legs. CG of same-aged boars did not change significantly in size throughout the year while females showed smaller CG on the left leg in January and February suggesting that CG may be involved in intra-matriarchal group communication. Same sized and aged boars did not show any correlations between the size of the CG and the weight of their testes and the serum levels of testosterone. These results suggest that CG are not involved in advertising dominance in boars. The histological investigation of CG showed that they are active in feral pigs in the lowland rainforest, consist mainly of apocrine tissue and that their hairs may play a role in distributing secretion.

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