CZAAWE Resource Article

Assessment of Dominance Hierarchy Through Urine Scent Marking and its Chemical Constituents in Male Blackbuck Antelope cervicapra, A Critically Endangered Species
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Behavioural Processes
In ungulates the process of chemical communication by urinary scent marking has been directly related to reproductive dominance, territorial defense and proximity to resources. The differences in the frequency of urine marking and chemical composition of urine of males Antelope cervicapra before, during and after the dominance hierarchy period were assessed. The variations in the urine marking and its chemical profiles of dominant males (n = 9), bachelors (n = 5) and sub-adult males (n = 5) were compared to find out how the dominance hierarchy influences the confined blackbuck herd under semi-natural captive conditions. The frequency of urine marking is significantly higher (p < 0.001) in dominant males. Twenty eight major constituents were identified in the urine of dominant males (before, during and after the dominance hierarchy period), bachelor and sub-adult males. Among these, three specific compounds namely, 3-hexanone (I), 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one (II) and 4-methyl-3-heptanone (III) were seen only in dominant males urine during the dominance hierarchy period. Based on the behavioural observation and the unique chemical constituents in the urine, it is concluded that the dominant male scent odor suppresses aggression, scent marking, scent production and territorial patrolling activities of subordinate males, through which the dominant male establish their hierarchy and attains success in reproduction.