Abstract

Title:  Voided estrous urine: a source of reproductive information in white-tailed deer
Author(s): Murphy, B. P., R. L. Marchinton, and K. V. Miller
Year: 1993
Abstract: The source of chemical signals through which female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virdnianus) relay their reproductive status to males has been debated widely. Previous research at the University of Georgia indicated that estrous vaginal secretions, rather than urine, are the primary source of this information. However, these studies used bladder urine rather than voided urine. Whether voided estrous urine contains reproductive chemical cues remains obscure. We conducted 74 trials during 1991-92 at the UGA, D. B. Warnell School of Forest Resource's Whitehall Deer Research Facility to assess the attractiveness of voided estrous and mid-cycle urine to male white-tailed deer. Estrous vaginal secretions were used as positive controls. Six adult (> 1.5 years of age) deer, including 3 ovariectornized does and 3 bucks, were used. Two does and 1 buck were used in each trial. One doe was randomly assigned a treatment and the other received the control (water). Trials were 30-minutes in length during which association time, number of chases, and courtship approaches were recorded. Compared to controls, all bucks spent more time associated with females treated with estrous vaginal secretions (P < 0.05), and performed more chases (P < 0.01), and courtship approaches (P c 0.05). In trials comparing voided estrous urine with the control, no differences were recorded for 2 of the 3 bucks. However, the remaining buck spent more time associated with treated females (P < 0.01). and made more chases (P < 0.05), and courtship approaches (P < 0.05). No differences were recorded in trials comparing mid-cycle urine and the control. These data support previous studies indicating that the female reproductive tract is the primary source of a chemical signal that bucks have an innate ability to detect. Furthermore, it appears that some bucks have the ability (possibly a learned behavior) to determine estrous status from voided urine either through traces of the chemical cue acquired during urination or through an alternative cue in the urine

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