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Predator odours attract other predators, creating an olfactory web of information [Biology Letters]

Keywords : eavesdropping, olfactory communication, predation risk, odour deterrent

by Frédéric Magné - published on

Many studies have reported the aversive reactions of prey towards a predator’s odour signals (e.g. urine marks), a behaviour widely thought to reduce the risk of predation by the predator. However, because odour signals persist in the environment, they are vulnerable to exploitation and eavesdropping by predators, prey and conspecifics. As such, scent patches created by one species might attract other species interested in information about their enemies. We studied this phenomenon by examining red fox investigation of odours from conspecifics and competing species in order to understand what prey are responding to when avoiding the odours of a predator. (...)

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