Landmark learning by juvenile salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum)
Learning to use a landmark as a beacon to locate resources is one of the simplest forms of spatial learning. We tested whether landmark learning occurs in a semifossorial salamander that migrates annually to breeding ponds as adults. Juvenile spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) were tested in square containers with a plastic feeding dish in each corner, and a piece of earthworm was placed in one randomly-chosen dish. For landmark-trained salamanders, a rock was placed beside the dish containing the prey. For control salamanders, the rock was placed beside a randomly selected feeding dish. Each salamander was trained once every 2 days for 30 days. Significantly more landmark-trained salamanders than control salamanders entered the landmark area first, and landmark-trained individuals had faster latencies to enter the landmark area and longer stay-times. These results suggest that spotted salamanders are able to locate resources by associating their positions with landmarks.
Ambystoma maculatum, associative learning, landmark learning, spotted salamander
Heuring, Whitney L., and Alicia Mathis. "Landmark learning by juvenile salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum)." Behavioural processes 108 (2014): 173-176.