Olfaction Use in Avian Species Essay

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Olfaction use in avian species Odors are broadly used for individual, sexual and species recognition in vertebrates and may be reliable signals of quality and compatibility when selecting mates. Yet, chemical signals in birds have rarely been investigated. In fact, birds exhibit a wide array of communication mechanisms, such as colors and songs, but rarely display obvious olfactory-driven behaviors. This discrepancy seen in the amount of information regarding olfactory use is due to the belief that birds do not have a well developed olfactory system compared to other animals. Because they do not have a well developed olfactory system, other perceptual cues, such as sight and audition, are seen as better predictors of behavior. The…show more content…
Additionally, as they approach their nests, burrow nesters avoid making calls or songs; they do not to bring attention to themselves so predators do not locate their nests. Having to locate their nests in the dark, burrow nesters cannot efficiently use visual cues to locate their nests. Moreover, because they avoid making calls and songs, they are unable to use auditory based cues to locate their nests either. In these cases, other forms of communication is needed. Mardon and Bonadonna (2009) assert that olfactory cues are a reliable method of locating their nests in the absence of visual and auditory cues. Specifically, the characteristic smell of the burrow will help them locate it when returning. To test this hypothesis, Mardon and Bonadonna (2009) used a Y-maze experiment to identify the olfactory preferences of petrels, birds known to use burrow nests. In Y maze experiments, one specific odor is placed at each end of the top side, and the bird is placed at the bottom side. The bird is believed to move toward the end that it prefers. In their experiment using storm petrels, recognized and prefered their own scent compared to conspecifics. Further investigation with petrels found that when placed in the Y-maze they prefer the scent of their mate to the odor of another conspecific (Mardon & Bonadonna, 2009). Their studies show that a personal scent exists for avian species, and that they have a preference for their own and

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