LaboratoriesLaboratory for Comparative Ethology and Biocommunication \  Results


Headed by Surov Alexey Vasilyevich, Dr. Biol. Sci.

Tel:. (499)-135-99-83,

   Saratov Biological Station   


1. Laboratory has collection of the bird acoustic signals tape-recordings (more than of 150 species). Collection of video-recordings of the bird and lizard behavior is in process of formation.

2. The laboratory collection of hamsters includes 16 species (out of 19 distributed in the Palearctic). The analysis of sequence data of several genes has allowed to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships among genera. Thus, we have got an opportunity to conduct comparative analysis of behavior, chemical communication both in phylogenetically close and distant species.

3. A comparative study of both optical and acoustic communicative signals in all six swan species of the world fauna has been accomplished. In the acoustic behavior, in particular, the interspecific differences revealed are not limited by the dissimilarity in the species-specific vocal repertoires as such. The whole diversity of sounds, the extent of their structural complexity, as well as modes of using simple and complex signals in the communication process are also distinct. Individuals of different species show the uneven ability to combine simple basic sounds to build a signals of high level of integration, which was interpreted as a different capacity to generate highly variable acoustic production. The signals of the maximum structural complexity appear to be of the highest communication value. They are present in the repertoires of only three northern species (the Whooper, Whistling and Trumpeter Swans) that regarded as the most evolutionary advanced ones.

Fragments of the courtship displays of the White-naped Crane (Grus vipio)

Elements of the agonistic displays of the White-naped (Grus vipio) and Red-crowned (Grus japonensis) Cranes

4. These photos of cranes were taken by E.N. Panow during field trip to the Hinganskiy State Reserve (Amur Region) conducted in 2007 as a part of the study of the signal behavior divergence in the family Gruidae. At the station engaged in the crane artificial breeding with subsequent releasing the birds into nature a couple of White-naped Cranes reared by people was nesting on the cordon Kleshinskiy in ca. 30 meters from dwellings. The territory of this pair was visited from time to time by other individuals of the two species (the White-naped and Red-Crownrd Cranes), having been released into nature earlier.

5. Radio-tracing permits not only to determine animals movement and their home range size, but also to observe their behavior, to analyze the budget of activity and rates of interindividual interactions.

An activity of the Eversman hamster males, by contrast to females, is distributed unevenly both in time and in space. Such state of things can, possibly, be explained by the fact that, under the existing species-specific system of individual home ranges, males should control the physiological state of females, marking the area etc., while females’ activity is limited at greater extent by foraging, the burrow construction and feeding its progeny.

6. Principally new concepts were theoretically developed and experimentally supported that clarify the relative roles of the generality and species-specificity of the sexual pheromones operation and the significance of signals of other modalities in the promoting of activity of the former ones. It is shown that in mammals the given olfactory signal do not provokes any strictly defined reactions in the receiver, but only gives impulse for initiating behavioral sequence by it. Thus, these signals appear to be an instrument of the fine adjustment of the physiological and behavioral reactions of the communicants, which can be viewed as an explanation of different principles of the pheromone operations in mammals and insects.

7. The ideas of the artificial mammal pheromones manufacturing has been developed. Thus, the artificial golden hamster female’s sexual pheromone was manufactured for the first time. A molecular model of the receptor of the boar sexual pheromone was put forward. Both the necessary and sufficient signs for the pheromone molecule to creation its functional analogues were found and more than 20 of them were synthesized.

An artificial sexual pheromone of mammals was created for the first time, which consists of three serum-containing compounds: tret-butanthiol, tret-pentanthiol and 2-isopentanthiol in the ratio 1:1:1

Such a composition appears to be stimulates well the sexual behavior of the male golden hamster after smearing by it the skin of another conspecific male.

8. A concept of olfactory image of the sexual partner was formed. We suppose that olfactory image of a sexual partner is gradually formed on the basis of the inherited capacity of mammals for discrimination of sex and receptivity. Since many mammalian species share common components conveying sex-related information the enhancement of species-specific component of the olfactory image is necessary for effective communication. In the course of image development, ‘crude’ signals of sex and receptivity are supplemented with species-specific characteristics. The constituents responsible for the conspecifics recognition is formed early in ontogeny under an influence of social experience, while for the completion and fixation of the actual sexual partner’s image sexual experience is necessary.

9. The studies conducted in the Laboratory revealed the common patterns of chemical structure of the releasing-pheromones components in mammals, namely the existence of some atoms that are the key structures for molecular receptors cognition in tridimensional space on the surface of pheromone molecules. Functional groups in organic substances are not the necessary and sufficient sign of the expression of the pheromone properties.

10. It was shown that social behavior of the lacertid lizards cannot be consider as a direct realization of any genetically determined program, but is gradually developing under influence of the individual experience. The main constituent of the latter is a rate of the interindividual contacts with lizards of the different sex and age. As a result, a social organization appears to be flexibly interconnected with such parameters as the density of population and its demographic structure.

11. On the base of investigations carried out an original concept amalgamating the modern knowledge on the structures of individual behavior, principles of intrapopulation organization and modes of microevolution has been put forward.

12. As a result of thorough consideration of the existing theories of animal communication, the principal distinctions between it and human language is shown.