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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Social recognition in mammals : mechanisms and sensorial bases

INRA Prod. Anim., 19(2), 119-134.


INRA, CNRS, Haras-Nationaux, Université de Tours, UMR Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements, F-37380 Nouzilly


Social recognition plays a major role in the mediation of interactions between individuals and the organisation of societies. During the last20 years, numerous studies have investigated the adaptive significance, underlying mechanisms and sensory basis of individual recognitionof kin as well as non-kin. The results indicate that the recognition of conspecifics involves complex, flexible processes that are widespreadthroughout the vertebrate kingdom. Such recognition can be based upon different mechanisms and sensory modalities, and influencedby diverse factors. Learned phenotypic traits of conspecifics through familiarisation, including oneself, is the fundamentalmechanism implicated in recognition. Animals become directly familiar with others with which they interact. Moreover, kin of familiarconspecifics may be discriminated because of their resemblance to the known individuals. An animal’s genotype and environmental variablesmay both contribute to its recognisable individual signatures (e.g. distinctive olfactory, visual, or auditory characteristics). In general,the study of social recognition enhances our understanding of the cognitive world of animals.

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