Pheromones and animal behaviour by Tristram D. Wyatt

By Tristram D. Wyatt

The significance of chemical communique is illustrated during this learn with examples from a various diversity of animals together with people, marine copepods, Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans, moths, snakes, goldfish, elephants and mice. for college kids of ecology, evolution and behaviour, Tristram Wyatt offers an creation to the fast growth within the knowing of olfaction on the molecular and neurological point. additionally, he bargains chemists, molecular biologists and neurobiologists insights into the ecological, evolutionary and behavioral context of olfactory conversation.

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Apart from the behavioural complexities of studying signals of any kind, pheromones present particular problems. First, the chemical messages are complex in many species, especially in mammals and social insects. Second, the small amounts available to the chemist are often at the limit of current analytical techniques. Third, whereas sound signals such as cricket song can be played back from a tape or indeed ‘synthesised’ or manipulated experimentally by computer, ‘playback’ for pheromones is much more difficult given the limits of chemical synthesis and the sensitivity of olfactory receptors to the precise nature of the pheromones.

In social insects such as the ‘queenless’ ant, Dinoponera quadriceps, the egg-laying status of individuals is reflected in particular hydrocarbons on their body surface. (a) The SPME–GC trace above, of the cuticle of a mated alpha female (who dominates the colony), and the trace below, of a sterile worker, show the differences in their cuticular hydrocarbons; note the difference for peak 40 (starred) which is 9-hentriacontene, characteristic of alpha females. 6. ) (b) SPME allowed changes in the hydrocarbons (data are shown here for 9-hentriacontene) of the same individual to be followed as its dominance position changed because taking SPME samples did not harm the animal.

However, one of the intriguing possibilities emerging in recent research on human senses is that olfactory signals may be more important to us than supposed, at both conscious and unconscious levels. This is explored in Chapters 9 and 13. 11 Conclusion Across the animal kingdom, more interactions are mediated by pheromones than by any other kind of signal. A wide variety of compounds are used as pheromones but there are many examples of the same compounds being used by different species. The design of the olfactory system makes evolution of pheromones very likely because there is selection for any odour cue that increases reproductive success or survival.

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