Can house sparrows recognize familiar or kin-related individuals by scent?

Gerardo Fracasso, Beniamino Tuliozi, Herbert Hoi, Matteo Griggio

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article

Abstract

In the last decades, higher attention has been paid to olfactory perception in birds. As a consequence, a handful of avian species have been discovered to use olfaction in different contexts. Nevertheless, we still have a very limited knowledge about the use of odor cues in avian social life, particularly, in the case of songbirds. Here, we investigate if female house sparrows Passer domesticus show any preference for the odor of kin and nonkin conspecifics and we also test a possible role of familiarity based on male scent in female choice. We performed the experiment with captive birds twice, during the nonbreeding and breeding seasons. Our results show that female house sparrows strongly avoided the odor of unrelated familiar (UF) males, both in the breeding and nonbreeding seasons. Our results suggest recognition for olfactory stimuli related to familiarity and kinship. We suggest that avoidance for UF males is associated with previous experience in this species. Also, we provided further evidence to the use of olfaction in passerine species by using a new experimental setup.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent zoology
Volume65
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
ISSN1674-5507
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • familiarity
  • house sparrow
  • kinship recognition
  • odor
  • olfaction
  • Passer domesticus
  • ODOR RECOGNITION
  • OLFACTORY SIGNATURE
  • PASSER-DOMESTICUS
  • SEXUAL-BEHAVIOR
  • BIRDS
  • PREFERENCES
  • DISCRIMINATION
  • REPRODUCTION

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