On the trail of primate scent signals: a field analysis of callitrichid scent-gland secretions by portable gas chromatography-mass spectrometry

Poirier, Alice C. and Waterhouse, John S. and Watsa, Mrinalini and Erkenswick, Gideon A. and Moreira, Lais A. A. and Tang, Jia and Dunn, Jacob and Melin, Amanda D. and Smith, Andrew C. (2021) On the trail of primate scent signals: a field analysis of callitrichid scent-gland secretions by portable gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. American Journal of Primatology, 83 (3). e23236. ISSN 1098-2345

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.23236

Abstract

Chemosignals are mediators of social interactions in mammals, providing con‐ and hetero‐specifics with information on fixed (e.g., species, sex, group, and individual identity) and variable (e.g., social, reproductive, and health status) features of the signaler. Yet, methodological difficulties of recording and quantifying odor signals, especially in field conditions, have hampered studies of natural systems. We present the first use of the Torion® portable gas chromatography‐mass spectrometry (GC‐MS) instrument for in situ chemical analysis of primate scents. We collected and analyzed swab samples from the scent glands and skin from 13 groups (57 individuals) of two sympatric species of wild emperor tamarins, Saguinus imperator, and Weddell's saddleback tamarins, Leontocebus weddelli (Callitrichidae). In total, 11 compounds of interest (i.e., probably derived from the animals) could be detected in the samples, with 31 of 215 samples containing at least one compound of interest. The composition of these 31 samples varied systematically with species, group, sex, and breeding status. Moreover, we tentatively identified seven of the compounds of interest as methyl hexanoate, benzaldehyde, ethyl hexanoate, acetophenone, a branched C15 alkane, 4‐methoxybenzaldehyde, and hexadecan‐1‐ol. As the field of primate semiochemistry continues to grow, we believe that portable GC‐MS instruments have the potential to help make progress in the study of primate chemosignaling in field conditions, despite limitations that we encountered. We further provide recommendations for future use of the Torion® portable GC‐MS for in situ analyses.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Callitrichidae, Scent-marking, semiochemicals, portable GC-MS, Chemosignaling
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic User
Depositing User: Symplectic User
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2021 12:59
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2021 14:36
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/706188

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