Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Irwin, Mitchell T.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Scent-marking is a widespread form of olfactory signaling exhibited in mammals and for a select group of primates. Although research exists on the process of scent-marking, surface preferences, and for the function of scent-marking in lemurs, analyses of how lemur group scent-marking distributions map onto their home range are lacking. The endangered ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) deposits scent-marks using its ano-genital, chest, and wrist glands. This project was designed to collect data on two groups of semi-free-ranging captive ring-tailed lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center to first assess how scent-marks are distributed within their home ranges; and second, to evaluate whether inter-sexual differences in scent-marking behavior occur. I collected observational and GPS offset data on the NHE2 and NHE4 groups of ring-tailed lemurs from May 22 to July 18, 2018. Data was analyzed with ArcMap 10.6.1 and R 3.5.1 software. Both groups clearly exhibited a territorial function of scent-marking. Scent-marks were generally deposited closer to the perimeter, those adjacent to other groups in particular, than the center of the home range. Common feeding sites were distributed in a similar manner. Neither group occupied their entire home range, and instead occupied areas closer to the perimeter. Scent-marking distributions were not merely a reflection of areas occupied by the groups. Furthermore, scent-marks were deposited at greater rates during intergroup encounters than in solitude. This finding suggested a secondary function for scent-marking involves intergroup communication, possibly for mate-guarding. Neither group exhibited temporal over-marking patterns. Males played a larger role in scent-marking than females. Over-marking patterns for both sexes suggested an over-marking function associated with intrasexual competition for access to mates. Upon comparisons with wild studies, it is evident that territoriality exists in both wild and captive conditions.


83 pages




Northern Illinois University

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