Olfactory Discrimination of Aliphatic Odorants in South African Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus)
2010 (English)In: JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE PSYCHOLOGY, ISSN 0735-7036, Vol. 124, no 2, 187-193 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Using a food-rewarded, two-choice, instrumental conditioning paradigm we assessed the ability of South African fur seals, Arctocephalus pusillus, to discriminate between members of five chemical classes of aliphatic odorants presumed to differ in their abundance in the marine chemical environment. We found that the fur seals were able to distinguish between 24 of the 25 odor pairs presented and thus have a well-developed ability to discriminate between structurally related odorants, that aliphatic n-acetic esters were significantly more poorly discriminated by the fur seals than aliphatic n-aldehydes and n-carboxylic acids, and a lack of correlations between discrimination performance and structural similarity of odorants in terms of differences in carbon chain length. These results suggest that the sense of smell may play an important and hitherto underestimated role in regulating the behavior of fur seals. Further, they support the notion that regular connections between the perceived quality of odorants and their molecular structural properties are not a general phenomenon but appear to be odorant class- and species-specific. Our data support the hypothesis that a species chemical environment may affect its olfactory capabilities.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Psychological Association , 2010. Vol. 124, no 2, 187-193 p.
marine chemical environment, pinnipeds, sense of smell, sensory performance
Engineering and Technology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-56684DOI: 10.1037/a0018189ISI: 000277671500008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-56684DiVA: diva2:321236