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Offspring and adult chemosensory recognition by an amphisbaenian reptile may allow maintaining familiar links in the fossorial environment

AuthorsMartín Rueda, José CSIC ORCID ; Raya-García, Ernesto; Ortega, Jesús; López Martínez, Pilar CSIC ORCID
KeywordsKin recognition
Chemosensory behavior
Family groups
Issue Date3-Feb-2021
CitationPeerJ 9: e10780 (2021)
AbstractKin recognition is a phenomenon with an important function in maintaining cohesive social groups in animals. Several studies have examined parent_offspring recognition in species with direct parental care. Few studies have, however, explored parent_offspring recognition in animals that, at best, only show apparent indirect parental care, such as some reptiles. In this study, we investigated reciprocal parent_offspring recognition in the fossorial amphisbaenian Trogonophis wiegmanni, a viviparous species that shows potential stable `family groups' in the form of parent-offspring long-term associations. We examined whether adult males and females could discriminate via chemical cues between familiar juveniles which associate with them within their family groups, and are potentially their offspring, to that of unfamiliar juveniles, and whether juveniles could discriminate between familiar adult males and females of their family group (probably their parents) and unfamiliar unrelated adults. We measured tongue flick behavior to study chemosensory responses to the scent of conspecifics. We found that adult female amphisbaenians, but not males, could discriminate between scents of familiar and unfamiliar juveniles. Juvenile amphisbaenians did not discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar adult females, but recognize familiar from unfamiliar males. We discuss our results of parent_offspring recognition according to its potential social function in an ecological fossorial context where visibility is limited and chemosensory kin recognition may contribute to the establishment of stable family groups.
Publisher version (URL)https://peerj.com/articles/10780/
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