Thesis Title

The Influence Of Predation Risk On The Foraging And Territorial Behavior Of The Ozark Zigzag Salamander (Plethodon Angusticalvius)

Date of Graduation

Summer 2001


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Alicia Mathis


When risk of predation is high, animals often decrease the frequency of behaviors associated with feeding, territorial defense, and reproduction. I examined the potential for such trade-offs in the Ozark zigzag salamander, Plethodon angusticlavius. I performed a series of laboratory experiments to determine whether increased predation risk decreased foraging behavior and territorial defense. Foraging success of salamanders declined in the presence of both substrate markings ("kairomones") from snakes and alarm pheromones from conspecifics, and following unsuccessful predatory attacks. Moreover, salamanders were able to distinguish between kairomones of predatory and non-predatory snakes. Aggressive behavior also was influenced by predation risk, but responses of territorial residents and intruders were different. Territorial residents had relatively high levels of aggression and low levels of submission regardless of predation risk. In contrast, following attack by predators, territorial intruders became more submissive and less aggressive. These data suggest that costs and benefits of aggressive behavior may differ for territorial residents and intruders. Behavior of salamanders in feeding territories can be substantially altered depending on perceived levels of predation risk.

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© Todd R. Watson