Female Chemical Signalling Underlying Reproduction in Mammals

Coombes, Holly A, Stockley, Paula and Hurst, Jane L ORCID: 0000-0002-3728-9624
(2018) Female Chemical Signalling Underlying Reproduction in Mammals. JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL ECOLOGY, 44 (9). pp. 851-873.

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Chemical communication plays many key roles in mammalian reproduction, although attention has focused particularly on male scent signalling. Here, we review evidence that female chemical signals also play important roles in sexual attraction, in mediating reproductive competition and cooperation between females, and in maternal care, all central to female reproductive success. Female odours function not only to advertise sexual receptivity and location, they can also have important physiological priming effects on male development and sperm production. However, the extent to which female scents are used to assess the quality of females as potential mates has received little attention. Female investment in scent signalling is strongly influenced by the social structure and breeding system of the species. Although investment is typically male-biased, high competition between females can lead to a reversed pattern of female- biased investment. As among males, scent marking and counter-marking are often used to advertise territory defence and high social rank. Female odours have been implicated in the reproductive suppression of young or subordinate females across a range of social systems, with females of lower competitive ability potentially benefiting by delaying reproduction until conditions are more favourable. Further, the ability to recognise individuals, group members and kin through scent underpins group cohesion and cooperation in many social species, as well as playing an important role in mother-offspring recognition. However, despite the diversity of female scent signals, chemical communication in female mammals remains relatively understudied and poorly understood. We highlight several key areas of future research that are worthy of further investigation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Chemical communication, Females, Sexual selection, Mammalian reproduction, pheromones
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2018 14:45
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 01:12
DOI: 10.1007/s10886-018-0981-x
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3028950