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How to maintain underground social relationships? Chemosensory sex, partner and self recognition in a fossorial amphisbaenian

Martín, José ; García, Ernesto Raya ; Ortega, Jesús LU and López, Pilar (2020) In PLoS ONE 15(8 August).
Abstract

Maintaining social relationships depends on the ability to recognize partners or group members against other individuals. This is especially important in animals with relatively stable social groups. The amphisbaenian Trogonophis wiegmanni is a semi blind fossorial reptile that spends its entire life underground where it interacts with mates and social partners. In this environment, visual cues are limited. Chemosensory cues may rather allow conspecific social and partner recognition. We recorded the number of tongue-flick (TF) rates of T. wiegmanni amphisbaenians to scents of both sexes with different pairing social bonds (familiar vs. unfamiliar) presented on cotton swabs to test discrimination of social groups. As seen from a rise in... (More)

Maintaining social relationships depends on the ability to recognize partners or group members against other individuals. This is especially important in animals with relatively stable social groups. The amphisbaenian Trogonophis wiegmanni is a semi blind fossorial reptile that spends its entire life underground where it interacts with mates and social partners. In this environment, visual cues are limited. Chemosensory cues may rather allow conspecific social and partner recognition. We recorded the number of tongue-flick (TF) rates of T. wiegmanni amphisbaenians to scents of both sexes with different pairing social bonds (familiar vs. unfamiliar) presented on cotton swabs to test discrimination of social groups. As seen from a rise in the number of TFs, males discriminated unfamiliar females from unfamiliar males. This suggests that chemical cues may be used by males to locate new mates. In contrast, females detected scent of unfamiliar conspecifics, but did not show sex discrimination. Both males and females discriminated the scent of an individual with which they had formed a pair bond from an unfamiliar individual of the same sex as the partner. Also, males, but not females, were capable of self-recognition, suggesting that scent marks of males in home ranges may provide individual information in intrasexual relationships. We conclude that conspecific discrimination based on chemical cues may allow the maintenance of social relationships and relatively stable pairs in fossorial reptiles inhabiting visually restricted environments.

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PLoS ONE
volume
15
issue
8 August
article number
e0237188
publisher
Public Library of Science
external identifiers
  • pmid:32813706
  • scopus:85089714311
ISSN
1932-6203
DOI
10.1371/journal.pone.0237188
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English
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yes
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5d7e5f17-3eec-4db7-8d28-f04ccf31fd98
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2021-01-08 13:51:02
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2021-04-06 02:42:47
@article{5d7e5f17-3eec-4db7-8d28-f04ccf31fd98,
  abstract     = {<p>Maintaining social relationships depends on the ability to recognize partners or group members against other individuals. This is especially important in animals with relatively stable social groups. The amphisbaenian Trogonophis wiegmanni is a semi blind fossorial reptile that spends its entire life underground where it interacts with mates and social partners. In this environment, visual cues are limited. Chemosensory cues may rather allow conspecific social and partner recognition. We recorded the number of tongue-flick (TF) rates of T. wiegmanni amphisbaenians to scents of both sexes with different pairing social bonds (familiar vs. unfamiliar) presented on cotton swabs to test discrimination of social groups. As seen from a rise in the number of TFs, males discriminated unfamiliar females from unfamiliar males. This suggests that chemical cues may be used by males to locate new mates. In contrast, females detected scent of unfamiliar conspecifics, but did not show sex discrimination. Both males and females discriminated the scent of an individual with which they had formed a pair bond from an unfamiliar individual of the same sex as the partner. Also, males, but not females, were capable of self-recognition, suggesting that scent marks of males in home ranges may provide individual information in intrasexual relationships. We conclude that conspecific discrimination based on chemical cues may allow the maintenance of social relationships and relatively stable pairs in fossorial reptiles inhabiting visually restricted environments.</p>},
  author       = {Martín, José and García, Ernesto Raya and Ortega, Jesús and López, Pilar},
  issn         = {1932-6203},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {8 August},
  publisher    = {Public Library of Science},
  series       = {PLoS ONE},
  title        = {How to maintain underground social relationships? Chemosensory sex, partner and self recognition in a fossorial amphisbaenian},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0237188},
  doi          = {10.1371/journal.pone.0237188},
  volume       = {15},
  year         = {2020},
}