Kayla Shelton

Date of Graduation

Summer 2016


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Alicia Mathis


diet effects, prey guild, predator recognition, chemical cues, Ambystoma

Subject Categories



Multiple species of Ambystoma can sometimes coexist in ponds, often forming a prey guild. In the Ozarks, ringed salamanders (Ambystoma annulatum) can coexist with marbled salamanders (A. opacum) and spotted salamanders (A. maculatum). Ringed and marbled salamanders lay their eggs in ponds in the fall and overwinter as larvae, whereas spotted salamanders breed in the spring. Ringed and marbled salamander larvae can be cannibalistic and can prey upon larvae of the other two species. Larvae should experience increased survival if they can discriminate between predators that have recently consumed another salamander (high risk) versus those that have not (low risk). I exposed two life stages of ringed and spotted salamanders to chemical cues from marbled salamanders that had consumed different diets and quantified their responses. Embryos of spotted salamanders showed increased heart rate in response to cues from predators that had consumed congeneric Ambystoma than predators that had consumed worms. Larval ringed salamander showed increased movements in response to predators that had consumed a conspecific versus a worm. Therefore, predator diet influences responses of both embryonic and larval ambystomatid salamanders.


© Kayla Shelton

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