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Age and seasonal changes in the semiochemicals of the sternal gland secretions of male koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)

J. R. Tobey A,C, T. R. Nute B and F. B. Bercovitch A

ASan Diego Zoos Institute for Conservation Research, 15600 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, CA 92027, USA.
BExpert Chemical Analysis Inc., 10366 Roselle Street #C, San Diego, CA 92121, USA.
C
Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT
Male koalas communicate with conspecifics using scent markings from their sternal scent gland. We examined age and seasonal changes in the profile of organic compounds produced by koala sternal glands. Scent exudates from 12 male koalas were collected over a one-year period and analysed by direct-injection gas chromatographymass spectrometry (GCMS) of the methanol extract. Carboxylic acids, aldehydes, ketones, and alcohols were found to dominate the scent mixture. Thirty-seven compounds were identified by comparison of their spectra with those in the Wiley 138K library. The identity, complexity and relative concentrations of these compounds were found to vary both seasonally and by age of the individuals, with the most odorous and complex mixtures occurring during the mating season. We suggest that seasonal and age differences in the complexity of the chemical composition of the koala scent gland exudate provides evidence that olfactory communication probably has important ramifications for male reproductive success in the wild.

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  • 2013
  • Biogeography
  • Biology
  • Chlamydia
  • Diet
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  • Ecology
  • Ellis
  • Eucalyptus
  • Genetics
  • Habitat
  • Infection
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  • Koala
  • Lunney
  • Threats
  • Timms
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