• Identification And Function Of Male Moose Urinary Pheromones

      Whittle, Chris L.; Clausen, Thomas P. (2005)
      Olfactory communication and associated scent-marking activities play a major role in the behavioral ecology of many mammals. During the mating season (rut), scent marking associated with urine of male cervids is an important chemical cue to relay information to conspecifics. Specifically, adult male moose (Alces alces) dig rutting pits in which they urinate, and females respond strongly to urine deposited in pits. A behavioral bioassay was developed to aid in the identification and function of adult male moose urinary pheromones, which elicited the behaviors observed in females during rut. Several behavioral bioassays were conducted to delineate the putative pheromones(s). It was experimentally established that when female moose were presented with urine from the pre-rut and rut periods, females preferred the urine from rut. Moreover, this experiment documented that females responded markedly to constituent(s) in rut urine by wallowing. Rut urine can be chemically extracted and maintain its bioactivity when presented to female moose, the partition of the urine that had bioactivity was delineated. Information was provided on the chemical and physical nature of the chemosignal---not a protein, or carbohydrate, relatively non-polar, and of low molecular weight. Urinary constituents that may function as the putative pheromone(s) were characterized. Some of the chemical differences that existed in rut urine and may not function as chemical signals were eliminated. Also provided, was evidence that female moose may utilize the main olfactory system to detect chemosignals present in rut urine.