First Advisor

Richard Forbes

Term of Graduation

Fall 1996

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Chemoreceptors, Odors, Animal communication, Mice -- Behavior



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 38 pages)


Identifying the sensory systems animals employ to communicate chemically and the function of the chemical signals facilitates further understanding of chemical communication. Increased knowledge of how animals use the olfactory and vomeronasal systems in order to interpret the meaning of body odors will aid in developing a more detailed organization of chemosensory pathways. The message that each body odor contains can change from species to species.

The purpose of this thesis was to study three previously untested body odors in house mice (M. musculus) for their role in gender recognition of conspecifics. These odors are the anogenital (feces, urine, and preputial gland secretions), the Harderian gland (Harderian gland sebaceous secretion; gland located at inner comer of eye), and mouth/nose (saliva, mucus, and food). The amount of time in seconds and the number of sniffs were measured in an habituation paradigm which involved four trials per odor.

The means of the amount of time spent sniffing and the number of sniffs per odor showed that the mice sniffed the novel odor the most, the non-novel an intermediate amount, and the control the least amount. The mice recognized the novel as foreign and the non-novel as familiar and the mice could not determine the gender of the odor-donor from any of the three odors.


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