Date of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Alicia Mathis


Multimodal cue, unimodal cue, predation, territorial, Ozark zigzag salamander, Plethodon angusticlavius

Subject Categories

Animal Studies | Behavior and Ethology | Biology


Territorial defense in many species must be balanced with trade-offs in activities such as reproduction and predator avoidance. Adjusting behavior based on current assessments of predation risk and the cost of maintaining or gaining a territory is one way that individuals can balance trade-offs to maximize fitness. I conducted two experiments to determine how Ozark zigzag salamanders, Plethodon angusticlavius, adjust their territorial behavior-based predation risk. First, I tested whether male and female territorial intruders changed their competitive behavior according to whether predation risk is assessed via unimodal (chemical) or multimodal (chemical + physical) cues. Females and males responded differently to unimodal and multimodal cues with females generally responding similarly to all predator cues, and males responding to multimodal cues in an additive manner. Second, I determined whether predation risk affected competitive behavior differentially based on whether the intruder salamander was in a territory marked by a same-sex or different-sex residents. Overall, the territorial behavior of both male and female intruders was moderated by the presence of a predator, but the effect differed based on the sex of both the intruder and the resident salamander. The results of these two experiments suggest that P. angusticlavius salamanders adjust their territorial behavioral in the presence of predation risk based on the source of the information (unimodal vs multimodal cues) and the sex of nearby individuals (potential mates or competitors).


© Sarah E. Heimbach

Open Access