Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Olfactory speciation in Eurasian badgers Meles spp.: Diversity among Japanese and European badgers (#447)

Yayoi Kaneko 1 , Chris Newman 2 , Evgeniy Raichev 3 , Sonoko Kosuga 4 , Syuji Yachimori 5 , Masayuki U. Saito 1 , Yosuke Kuramoto 6 , David W. Macdonald 2 , Stanislava Peeva 3 , Christina D. Buesching 2
  1. Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Fuchu-city, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
  2. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Abingdon, Oxford, UK
  3. Trakia University, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
  4. Daido Bunseki Co., Nagoya, Japan
  5. Shikoku Institute of Natural History, Susaki, Japan
  6. Ministry of the Environment, Tokyo, Japan

All carnivores are macrosmatic and use olfactory signals for intra-specific communication. Many studies have analysed the information content of these signals and speculated on their role in group-cohesion, individual recognition, and fitness advertisement, but only few studies are concerned with olfactory discrimination of closely related species. Badgers, Meles spp., have a large geographic range with three, partially sympatric species: M. meles, M. leucurus, and M. anakuma. They possess a unique subcaudal gland, that encodes reproductive status and fitness-related information, and they use its secretion for reproductive advertisement, courtship and mate-guarding. Evolutionary theory predicts that speciation should enable members of distinct species to recognise each other as ‘aliens’, whilst despite of their large geographic range, the general composition of each species’ secretion should remain similar over distance and evolutionary time to allow same-species recognition. Here, we used GC/MS to compare subcaudal gland profiles of adult badgers (n = 41) belonging to two different species (nM.meles = 25; nM.anakuma =16) trapped at 4 different locations (M. meles: UK = 12, Bulgaria = 13; M. anakuma: Tokyo = 12, Kochi = 4). Meles secretions contained 31.4 ± 8.3SD components, of which 10 occurred in both species, but only 4 in every sample, potentially indicating a genus-specific scent-component. Nevertheless, M. meles and M. anakuma differed significantly in their scent-profiles, both in presence and relative abundance of components. While the two subpopulations of M.meles could not be distinguished statistically, M. anakuma scent-profiles differed significantly between the Tokyo and Kochi populations, suggesting more advanced speciation.