Primates are traditionally considered to have a poor sense of smell. However, olfaction is important for non-human primates as demonstrated by conspicuous scent-marking behaviours in lemurs. We studied two pairs (n =
4) of crowned lemurs (Eulemur coronatus
) housed at Colchester and Twycross zoos (UK) by combining behavioural observations and chemical analyses of scent-marks and glandular swabs. We recorded observations of olfactory behaviours for 201 h using instantaneous scan sampling. We investigated the volatile compounds of ano-genital odour secretions (n =
16) using solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Males scent-marked most frequently, displaying ano-genital marking for allomarking, head marking for countermarking and wrist marking in specific areas of the enclosure. Females displayed ano-genital marking, predominantly on feeding devices. We detected a total of 38 volatile components in all male ano-genital scent-marks and 26 in all female samples of ano-genital odour secretions, including a series of esters, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, terpenes, volatile fatty acids and hydrocarbons that have been identified in odour profiles of other primates. In conclusion, we found sexual dimorphism in crowned lemur scent-marking. Male head and wrist marking behaviours might play defensive territorial functions, while ano-genital marking would be related to socio-sexual communication as chemical mate-guarding. Female ano-genital marking might be involved in resource defense.
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