Abstract

Title:  Sign post behavior: what do we know (or think we know) now?
Author(s): Marchinton, R. L.
Year: 1979
Abstract: Graduate research on sign post behavior-at the University of Georgia has included direct observation of the behavior of radio-equipped deer (W. G. Moore) and detailed analyses of rubs and scrapes made on study tracts (T. L. Kile). Presently, we are attempting to chemically identify pheromones associated with sign post behavior and we these compounds to experimentally test behavioral and physiological responses among penned deer (T. D. Atkeson) and to utilize lead does for field studies (T. G. Sawyer). Rubbing peaks about two months before maximum scraping activity and this peak is associated with the removal of velvet. Although rubbing continues at a decreasing rate throughout the breeding season, early rubs differ physically, and probably functionally, from those occurring later. Scraping activity peaks simultaneously with, or slightly before, breeding. The distribution of rubs and scrapes is contiguous and habitat related, but special patterns are still not clear. Our data suggests that rubbing functions to mark areas and establish dominance in preparation for breeding, and that one function of scraping is communication between sexes during the breeding season. Researchers in other areas have found little evidence of these behavioral functions. We feel this is most likely because the social significance of marking is dependent on the density, sex and age structure of the populations, and on habitat characteristics. It is probable that in populations with high percentages of does and reduced age structure among bucks the communicative role of rubs and scrapes is less important.

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