séminaire du vendredi

"Le monde olfactif des pétrels, de l'orientation au choix de partenaire" - Francesco Bonadonna - Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Groupe Ecologie Comportementale, CNRS Montpellier - vendredi 3 avril, 11h, bât. Gabriel, amphi Mariotte. Attention ce séminaire est repoussé à une date ultérieure !
In the sixties, Betsy Bang unravelled for the first time the complexity of the olfactory apparatus of procellariiform seabirds (petrels and albatrosses) suggesting an important role for olfaction in their ecology. Shortly after, Prof. B. Wenzel continued the investigations on petrels' well developed olfactory neuroanatomy as well as their sensitivity to food-related scents. Later studies demonstrated further that the sense of smell is also critical to these birds when homing to their burrow. Building on these findings, we have demonstrated in several petrel species the importance of the burrow olfactory signature in homing. The nature of this olfactory signature relies predominantly on their mate's odour. Indeed, in our Y-maze experiments, Antarctic prions (Pachyptila desolata) and blue petrels (Halobaena caerulea) were able to discriminate between their own and their mate odours. However, while they are attracted by their mate odour, they prefer the odour of a conspecific bird to their own. These results have drawn attention to the possible use of chemical signals in birds' social behaviours, such as individual recognition and/or mate choice. Indeed, petrel life-history traits suggest that olfactory mediated mate choice may have evolved in this group to ensure genetic compatibility between mates. We have recently shown that a single bird's semio-chemical profile is more similar to itself, year after year, than to a conspecific. As a result, a novel function of olfaction emerges in petrels: the perception of a chemical signal that may broadcast individuals' identity and quality contributing to an optimal mate choice.
Francesco Bonadonna
Groupe Ecologie Comportementale,
Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive, 
CNRS Montpellier