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Review

Appeasing Pheromones for the Management of Stress and Aggression during Conservation of Wild Canids: Could the Solution Be Right under Our Nose?

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Gamete and Embryology (GAME) Laboratory, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, James Cook Drive, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
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Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals (IBREAM), 9 Ainslie Place, Edinburgh EH3 6AT SCT, UK
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Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, James Cook University, James Cook Drive, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
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Mammal Research Institute, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0028, South Africa
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Discipline of Veterinary Science, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Solander Drive, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
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Institut de Recherche en Sémiochemie et Ethologie Appliquée, 84400 Apt, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Bruce A. Schulte
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1574; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061574
Received: 16 April 2021 / Revised: 25 May 2021 / Accepted: 25 May 2021 / Published: 27 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Behavior: Insights into Chemical Communication)
Many canid species are declining globally. It is important to conserve these species that often serve as important predators within ecosystems. Continued human expansion and the resulting habitat fragmentation necessitate conservation interventions, such as translocation, artificial pack formation, and captive breeding programs. However, chronic stress often occurs during these actions, and can result in aggression, and the physiological suppression of immunity and reproduction. Limited options are currently available for stress and aggression management in wild canids. Pheromones provide a promising natural alternative for stress management; an appeasing pheromone has been identified for multiple domestic species and may reduce stress and aggression behaviours. Many pheromones are species-specific, and the appeasing pheromone has been found to have slight compositional changes across species. In this review, the benefits of a dog appeasing pheromone and the need to investigate species-specific derivatives to produce more pronounced and beneficial behavioural and physiological modulation in target species as a conservation tool are examined.
Thirty-six species of canid exist globally, two are classified as critically endangered, three as endangered, and five as near threatened. Human expansion and the coinciding habitat fragmentation necessitate conservation interventions to mitigate concurrent population deterioration. The current conservation management of wild canids includes animal translocation and artificial pack formation. These actions often cause chronic stress, leading to increased aggression and the suppression of the immune and reproductive systems. Castration and pharmaceutical treatments are currently used to reduce stress and aggression in domestic and captive canids. The undesirable side effects make such treatments inadvisable during conservation management of wild canids. Pheromones are naturally occurring chemical messages that modulate behaviour between conspecifics; as such, they offer a natural alternative for behaviour modification. Animals are able to distinguish between pheromones of closely related species through small compositional differences but are more likely to have greater responses to pheromones from individuals of the same species. Appeasing pheromones have been found to reduce stress- and aggression-related behaviours in domestic species, including dogs. Preliminary evidence suggests that dog appeasing pheromones (DAP) may be effective in wild canids. However, the identification and testing of species-specific derivatives could produce more pronounced and beneficial behavioural and physiological changes in target species. In turn, this could provide a valuable tool to improve the conservation management of many endangered wild canids. View Full-Text
Keywords: wild canid; conservation; metapopulation management; African wild dog; wolf; stress; aggression; immune suppression; reproductive suppression; appeasing pheromone wild canid; conservation; metapopulation management; African wild dog; wolf; stress; aggression; immune suppression; reproductive suppression; appeasing pheromone
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MDPI and ACS Style

Riddell, P.; Paris, M.C.J.; Joonè, C.J.; Pageat, P.; Paris, D.B.B.P. Appeasing Pheromones for the Management of Stress and Aggression during Conservation of Wild Canids: Could the Solution Be Right under Our Nose? Animals 2021, 11, 1574. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061574

AMA Style

Riddell P, Paris MCJ, Joonè CJ, Pageat P, Paris DBBP. Appeasing Pheromones for the Management of Stress and Aggression during Conservation of Wild Canids: Could the Solution Be Right under Our Nose? Animals. 2021; 11(6):1574. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061574

Chicago/Turabian Style

Riddell, Pia, Monique C.J. Paris, Carolynne J. Joonè, Patrick Pageat, and Damien B.B.P. Paris 2021. "Appeasing Pheromones for the Management of Stress and Aggression during Conservation of Wild Canids: Could the Solution Be Right under Our Nose?" Animals 11, no. 6: 1574. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061574

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