Ontogeny of scent marking behaviours in an apex carnivore

Maximilian L. Allen, Heiko U. Wittmer, Emmarie P. Alexander, Christopher C. Wilmers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Puma (Puma concolor) communication with conspecifics is via indirect scent marking behaviours that are important for individuals to advertise their territory and reproductive status, but little is known about how the behaviours develop with age. To examine the development of scent marking behaviours, we monitored the behaviours of adult pumas and dependent kittens. Based on video recordings, we found that the frequency of puma communication behaviours significantly changed over time. Kittens exhibited olfactory investigation more frequently as they aged, but kittens generally did not exhibit scent marking behaviours. Kittens travel with their mothers until they disperse, so there is no need to establish territories or advertise availability to mate, but kittens are at risk of injury or mortality from other pumas. It is possible that there is no functional need for dependent kittens to scent mark until they mature, but there is a need for frequent use of investigative behaviours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-350
Number of pages12
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2021


  • behaviour
  • development
  • ontogeny
  • Puma concolor
  • reproduction
  • scent marking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Ontogeny of scent marking behaviours in an apex carnivore'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this