Do Spotted Hyena Scent Marks Code for Clan Membership?

  • Nicole Burgener
  • Marion L East
  • Heribert Hofer
  • Martin Dehnhard


The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is a territorial carnivore that lives in highly structured social groups called clans. Individuals of both sexes produce scent in a prominent anal scent gland. Gas-chromatographic analysis of 13 fatty acids and esters in scent profiles from 45 individuals belonging to three social groups demonstrated sufficient variation to suggest that odour may permit individual olfactory recognition. Further, anal scent secretions from members of the same clan are more similar to each other than those from different clans, consistent with the idea of a social group odour. We describe a mechanism involving both scent pasting and dry-pasting behaviour to explain how a group odour label may be concocted from individual scent secretions and how this group label is spread among members of a clan.


Nestmate Recognition Anal Gland Group Odour Scent Gland Spotted Hyena 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media,LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Burgener
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marion L East
  • Heribert Hofer
  • Martin Dehnhard
  1. 1.Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife ResearchGermany
  2. 2.Freie UniversitätGermany

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