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Experiments on sprainting activity of otters ( Lutra lutra ) in the Bieszczady Mountains, southeastern Poland / Observations des épreintes de la loutre ( Lutra lutra ) sur les montagnes du Bieszczady au sud-est de la Pologne

Marcin Brzeziński
  • Department of Ecology, University of Warsaw, Banacha 2, 02-097 Warszawa, Poland
/ Jerzy Romanowski
  • Centre for Ecological Research PAN, 05-092 Dziekanow L. near Warsaw, Lomianki, Poland


Consecutive surveys of otter spraints of both banks along a 28-km stretch of the River San showed an average of 4.18 deposited spraints/km per day during a 3-week pre-experimental period. The variation in spraint density on particular 1-km-long sections of the river was high and varied from 40 to 145 spraints/km after 3 weeks. Spraint deposition was positively correlated with the proportion of steep and rocky riverbanks, which were characterised by a higher number of potential sprainting sites than those with many flat and undermined banks. Average daily deposition of spraints on the whole 28-km stretch after experimental removal of spraints (experimental period) did not significantly differ compared to the pre-experimental period. However, in sections where otter spraints were removed (n=14), sprainting intensity increased 1.6-fold, while in the control sections (n=14) the defecation ratio decreased 1.5-fold during the first week after removal. Placement of additional spraints of unfamiliar individuals on half the experimental sections did not stimulate otters to increase defecation on these sections compared to those where only old spraints were removed. Otter response to the removal of spraints has a spatial character and is expressed by differentiation in spraint deposition within the home range.


Durant 5 semaines, nous avons observé des épreintes de loutres sur une distance de 28 km sur les deux rives de la Rivière San. Par jour, nous avons enregistré en moyenne 4,18 épreintes/km. Après 3 semaines d'une période pré-expérimentale, nous avons constaté une variation de 40 à 145 de la fréquence de défécation sur une distance de 1 km. L'intensité du marquage était corrélée positivement aux rives rocheuses et hautes offrant de plus nombreux sites de marquages que les rives basses. Nous avons divisé les 28 km de rives en deux segments: un segment expérimental (n=14) duquel on a enlevé les épreintes quotidiennement, et un segment du contrôle (n=14). Pendant les 2 semaines de l'expérience, l'intensité de marquage sur les 28 km ne changeait pas par rapport à la période pré-expérimentale. Néanmoins, sur le segment où les épreintes étaient enlevées, l'intensité du marquage augmentait de 1,6 fois, alors que sur le segment du contrôle, l'intensité déclinait de 1,5 fois. Les épreintes d'individus étrangers que nous avions déposés dans une moitié du segment expérimental ne stimulaient pas les loutres à intensifier leur marquage par rapport aux segments où les épreintes étaient enlevées. L'expérience a montré que la réaction des loutres à l'enlèvement des épreintes a un caractère spatial et s'exprime par une différence d'intensité de marquage au sein d'un territoire propre.

Keywords: behaviour; Lutra lutra; otter; scent marking; comportement; loutre; Lutra lutra; marquage à l'odeur


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Published in Print: 2006-02-01

Citation Information: Mammalia, ISSN (Online) 1864-1547, ISSN (Print) 0025-1461, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/MAMM.2006.019. Export Citation

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