Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2017

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Jeff Keuss

First Advisor/Committee Member

Janet Bester-Meredith

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Baine Craft


maternal recognition, maternal behavior, social behavior, olfaction, anosmia, California mouse


Previous studies have established a connection between social behavior and olfaction, in that as anosmia causes a decrease in perception of social cues, social behavior itself decreases. Studies investigating maternal behavior specifically have focused on foster care, in which the behaviors formed during parturition are conserved and displayed with unrelated pups. The combination of long-term retention of maternal behavior, maternal recognition, and olfaction has yet to be explored. In this study, I induced anosmia in Peromyscus californicus, a monogamous, biparental species, and analyzed their behavior with their own pups and with foreign pups in the days after birth, as well as in the weeks after weaning. I concluded that mothers retaining their sense of smell showed a slight preference for their own pup compared to a foreign pup—more so than anosmic mothers. This trend was consistent regardless of the day of testing. Therefore, anosmia, but not time, impaired maternal recognition of offspring.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program

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