Title

Discrimination of predatory versus nonpredatory mammals by box turtles, Terrapene carolina

Abstract

Although terrestrial turtles have served as a model for studies of olfactory neurophysiology, little is known about how they use chemical information in an ecological sense. We tested whether box turtles (Terrapene carolina) use chemical information to distinguish between predatory and nonpredatory mammals. Box turtles in our study exhibited more escape behavior when exposed to urine from a predator (coyote, Canis latrans) than when exposed to urine from a nonpredator (white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus) or a blank control. Escape behavior is consistent with an antipredator response. In addition, the turtles decreased their handling time for food when in the presence of urine from either species of mammal in comparison to the blank, indicating that chemical cues from mammals in general may result in increased vigilance by terrestrial turtles. Examination of a variety of response variables may be important for adequate assessment of the ecological role of chemosensory behavior.

Department(s)

Biology

Document Type

Article

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1007/s00049-007-0393-9

Keywords

antipredator behavior, chemical cues, chemosensory behavior, terrapene carolina, turtle

Publication Date

2008

Journal Title

Chemoecology

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