Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Alicia Mathis


alarm, behavior, chemosensory, predation, salamander

Subject Categories



Fitness can be maximized for individuals that are able to assess the level of predation risk and perform appropriate antipredator behaviors when predation risk is high. I investigated the ability of lab-reared juvenile spotted salamanders, Ambystoma maculatum, to assess predation risk via chemical alarm cues and substrate markings from predators fed different diets. In the alarm-cue experiment, salamanders avoided substrates marked with alarm cues but not from noninjured conspecifics or alarm stimuli from heterospecifics. Snakes that had recently consumed salamanders might represent a greater threat than snakes that had consumed other prey, but salamanders did not discriminate between markings of water snake predators fed different diets in any of the three experiments (i.e., no differences in avoidance, foraging or oxygen consumption). However, salamanders tended to avoid (P = 0.054) cues from water snakes regardless of diet and showed longer latencies to feed when exposed to chemical stimuli from snakes. Data for oxygen consumption are only preliminary due to low sample size; additional data are required before definitive conclusions can be made. Overall, chemical cues associated with predation risk are likely to play an important role in the ecology of post-metamorphic spotted salamanders.


© Robert Lee Hunt

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