Information Content of Prey Odor Plumes: What Do Foraging Leach’s Storm Petrels Know?

  • Larry Clark
  • Pankaj S. Shah


Electrophysiological responses to odor have been recorded for concentrations as low as 0.01 ppm for Manx Shearwaters Puffinus puffinus and Black-footed Albatrosses Diomedea niaripes indicating that relative to most birds, procellariiforms have a keen sense of smell (Wenzel and Sieck 1972, cf. Clark 1991; Clark and Smeraski 1990; Clark and Mason 1989). Such acuity is not unexpected, given the extensive development of the olfactory anatomy of these species (Bang and Wenze 1986). Field observations indicate that Procellariiformes use their sense of smell to locate food (Grubb 1972; Hutchison and Wenzel 1980; Lequette, Verheyden and Jouventin 1989). However, it is not known how far from the source petrels can detect odors. This information would improve our understanding of procellariiform foraging ecology and engender a broader appreciation of the selective forces involved in shaping the evolution of the sensory anatomy of this group (Healy and Guilford 1990). Herein, we report preliminary observations on the odor sensitivity of Leach’s Storm Petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa to the major components of natural prey items. The detection data are used to generate a first order estimate of the odor active space for free ranging petrels.


Active Space Odor Plume Storm Petrel Turkey Vulture Night Vision Goggle 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Larry Clark
    • 1
  • Pankaj S. Shah
    • 2
  1. 1.Monell Chemical Senses CenterUSDA/APHIS/S&T/Denver WiLdlife Research CenterPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Monell Chemical Senses CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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