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A Wilder View: Animals use their scent to communicate

Posted at 3:07 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 17:07:12-05

MISSOULA — There is a growing body of evidence that wildlife may be communicating more than we think when marking their territory.

We have all heard of marking your territory when it comes to wildlife and a lot of species do it -- but displaying territory boundaries is just the beginning.

Whether you’re a wolf, a mountain lion, or an otter -- they’re putting down their scent and saying “hey, this is my territory.”

But, distributing odor also plays a vital role in mate attraction, mate choice and reproduction, parental care and even disease transmission.

In the context of reproduction, it is essential for the maintenance of animal population structure.

So, by scent marking animals can be displaying if they are a genetic match for their next mate. This means this can lead to less inbreeding.

Animals living in closer proximity to each other are more likely to be related.

By using scent communication these individuals can determine populations geographically separated from them to allow for better genetic mating.

One possibility that the scent is different is simple.

An animal in a different location may have a different diet and have different habitat settings since their diet and habitat may be different their scent will be different as well.

Chemical communication is arguably the most important mode of mammal communication and we are just now scratching the surface to these hidden secrets.