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Marking Behaviour of Some Viverridae and Felidae Time-Interval Analysis of the Marking Pattern

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[Several mammalian groups "mark" their surroundings by rubbing off their skin glands and/or by squirting urine. This pattern is thought to serve chemocommunication. In this study the marking behaviour of a number of captive Carnivora was ohserved. The significance of marking in these circumstances is discussed. 2. Marking is performed during a period of motor activity in series of fast, consecutive acts; it is accompanied, depending on the animal (species), by several, mostly orienting, acts. Composition (coherence) and sequence (transition probabilities) of this marking pattern are analysed for four animals, Netti (Genetta felina), Shiva (Prionailurus bengalensis), Ferdinand and Stuttgart ♀(Lcopardus geoffroyi). Coherence appeared to be susceptible to several factors, the sequence, however, appeared well fixed and uninfluenced by all factors investigated (season, time of day, human presence, other animals). Its functional significance is discussed and elucidated. Arguments are brought forward to show that some of the accompanying acts serve a visual display function. 3. Time-interval analysis has been carried out chiefly by computing arithmetic means, standard deviations and serial correlation coefficients of the intervals. Season, time of day, and extension of the bladder investigated in one animal influence frequency and interval; they do not, however, influence the variation coefficient and the serial correlogram. These last two results suggest a high stability of the system. Interdependency of the periodic features in the occurrence of some separate acts was found, indicating a "relative coordination" in the sense of VON HOLST (1939). The part-time integration of an act in a complex pattern does not preclude it from being performed independently or within the context of another pattern, as is best exemplified by sniffing; within the pattern, the closing act - in the present case marking - determines occurrence, duration and choice of those preceding it (Relative Hierarchy of Moods, LEYHATUSEN, 1965)., Several mammalian groups "mark" their surroundings by rubbing off their skin glands and/or by squirting urine. This pattern is thought to serve chemocommunication. In this study the marking behaviour of a number of captive Carnivora was ohserved. The significance of marking in these circumstances is discussed. 2. Marking is performed during a period of motor activity in series of fast, consecutive acts; it is accompanied, depending on the animal (species), by several, mostly orienting, acts. Composition (coherence) and sequence (transition probabilities) of this marking pattern are analysed for four animals, Netti (Genetta felina), Shiva (Prionailurus bengalensis), Ferdinand and Stuttgart ♀(Lcopardus geoffroyi). Coherence appeared to be susceptible to several factors, the sequence, however, appeared well fixed and uninfluenced by all factors investigated (season, time of day, human presence, other animals). Its functional significance is discussed and elucidated. Arguments are brought forward to show that some of the accompanying acts serve a visual display function. 3. Time-interval analysis has been carried out chiefly by computing arithmetic means, standard deviations and serial correlation coefficients of the intervals. Season, time of day, and extension of the bladder investigated in one animal influence frequency and interval; they do not, however, influence the variation coefficient and the serial correlogram. These last two results suggest a high stability of the system. Interdependency of the periodic features in the occurrence of some separate acts was found, indicating a "relative coordination" in the sense of VON HOLST (1939). The part-time integration of an act in a complex pattern does not preclude it from being performed independently or within the context of another pattern, as is best exemplified by sniffing; within the pattern, the closing act - in the present case marking - determines occurrence, duration and choice of those preceding it (Relative Hierarchy of Moods, LEYHATUSEN, 1965).]

Affiliations: 1: (Max Planck Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie, Abteilung Lorenz ; Arbeitsgruppe Wuppertal, Wuppertal, B.R.D.

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