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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Differential responses of captive southern hairy-nosed wombats (Lasiorhinus latifrons) to the presence of faeces from different species and male and female conspecifics
Authors: Descovich, Kristin
Lisle, Allan
Johnston, Stephen
Nicolson, Vere
Phillips, Clive
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Keywords: Wombat, olfactory, faeces, scent, captivity, communication, zoo, captivity, welfare, behaviour, group
Issue Date: Apr-2012
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Descovich K, Lisle A, Johnston S, Nicolson V & Phillips C (2012) Differential responses of captive southern hairy-nosed wombats (Lasiorhinus latifrons) to the presence of faeces from different species and male and female conspecifics, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 138 (1-2), pp. 110-117.
Abstract: The southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) appears to use scent marking, including defaecation, for social communication in the wild. This premise assumes that the receiver wombat is able to distinguish between faeces from different sources. To examine this theory, four types of faeces (male wombat, female wombat, dingo and a plastic control) were placed into the enclosures of 12 captive wombats. Behaviour, inter-individual distance and enclosure use were recorded during the period of placement, as well as the period before and the period after. When faeces were present, the wombats used concealed locations more often than other periods (mean %: pre-treatment: 71.3, treatment: 75.6, post-treatment: 72.7; P < 0.05). During the same period they also reduced grazing (mean min/period: pre- treatment: 15.8, treatment: 6.9, post- treatment: 13.1; P = 0.0002) and walking 2 activity (mean min/period: pre- treatment: 85.2, treatment: 66.9, post- treatment: 78.2; P = 0.01), indicating an increased perception of risk. Wombats approached the dingo faeces 5.6 times per treatment period, which was greater than for the control (3.0; P = 0.004) or female wombat faeces (3.7; P = 0.049). They also avoided other wombats most when male wombat faeces were present (8.3 retreats/period) compared to the control (4.5; P = 0.02), or female wombat (4.3; P = 0.01). There was a residual effect of increased wombat avoidance the period after presentation of dingo faeces (9.6; P ≤ 0.05). It is concluded that the southern hairy-nosed wombat can differentiate between faeces from different species and sex of conspecifics, and that predator faeces and those from male conspecifics increase wombat avoidance behaviour either during or after presentation.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: Published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science by Elsevier; Elsevier believes that individual authors should be able to distribute their accepted author manuscripts for their personal voluntary needs and interests, e.g. posting to their websites or their institution’s repository, e-mailing to colleagues. The Elsevier Policy is as follows: Authors retain the right to use the accepted author manuscript for personal use, internal institutional use and for permitted scholarly posting provided that these are not for purposes of commercial use or systematic distribution. An "accepted author manuscript" is the author’s version of the manuscript of an article that has been accepted for publication and which may include any author-incorporated changes suggested through the processes of submission processing, peer review, and editor-author communications.
Affiliation: Psychology
University of Queensland
University of Queensland
Dreamworld Theme Park
University of Queensland

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