Influence of physical stress, distress cues, and predator kairomones on the foraging behavior of Ozark zigzag salamanders, Plethodon angusticlavius


An animal’s response to environmentally induced stress can have important fitness consequences. For example, an animal may reduce activity in response to stress related to increased predation risk, but this response carries the potential cost of missed foraging or mating opportunities. We used laboratory bioassays to determine whether Ozark zigzag salamanders, Plethodon angusticlavius, decreased their feeding behavior following increased levels of threat-related stress. Stress level was manipulated in three experiments where salamanders were exposed to direct or indirect indicators of stress. The direct cue was a physical attack. The indirect cues were chemical cues from distressed conspecifics and chemical cues (“kairomones”) from predatory ringneck snakes, Diadophis punctatus. For all three cues, stressed salamanders showed lower foraging success than unstressed salamanders. The physical attack did not result in a more intense response than the other treatments, possibly because the attack occurred away from the foraging area. The intensity of the response to stress may depend more on the nature of the threat (identity and imminence) than the level of physical disturbance.



Document Type




chemical cues, stress, alarm, predation, antipredator, salamander

Publication Date


Journal Title

Behavioural processes