The Role of Alarm Pheromones in Predation Avoidance By Adult Central Newts, Notophthalmus Viridescens

Date of Graduation

Spring 1996


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Alicia Mathis


Alarm pheromones play an important role in predator/prey interactions. A chemical alarm system has been recently described for Notophthalmus viridescens. This alarm signalling system was tested in the field to determine if newts avoid areas marked with conspecific skin extract in a natural environment. Newts avoided traps marked with newt skin extract (NSE), but did not avoid traps marked with water or Plethodon skin extract (PSE). It is not known where the alarm pheromone is produced in newt skin, so a histological examination of newt skin was performed as a preliminary step in pinpointing the site of alarm pheromone production. Four different gland types were identified that could be possible sites for alarm pheromone production. Alarm pheromones are important in mediating learning by prey. An experiment was performed to test the hypothesis that newts will learn to avoid a novel fish chemical cue, through previous association of that cue with NSE. Newts were able to acquire recognition of a novel fish cue when these cues were previously paired with NSE, but not when previously paired with PSE or water.

Subject Categories



© David R Woody