Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 190, Issue 5, pp 415–427

Discrimination of conspecific sex and reproductive condition using chemical cues in axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum)

  • D. Park
  • J. M. McGuire
  • A. L. Majchrzak
  • J. M. Ziobro
  • H. L. Eisthen
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00359-004-0510-y

Cite this article as:
Park, D., McGuire, J.M., Majchrzak, A.L. et al. J Comp Physiol A (2004) 190: 415. doi:10.1007/s00359-004-0510-y

Abstract

Chemosensory cues play an important role in the daily lives of salamanders, mediating foraging, conspecific recognition, and territorial advertising. We investigated the behavioral effects of conspecific whole-body odorants in axolotls, Ambystoma mexicanum, a salamander species that is fully aquatic. We found that males increased general activity when exposed to female odorants, but that activity levels in females were not affected by conspecific odorants. Although males showed no difference in courtship displays across testing conditions, females performed courtship displays only in response to male odorants. We also found that electro-olfactogram responses from the olfactory and vomeronasal epithelia were larger in response to whole-body odorants from the opposite sex than from the same sex. In males, odorants from gravid and recently spawned females evoked different electro-olfactogram responses at some locations in the olfactory and vomeronasal epithelia; in general, however, few consistent differences between the olfactory and vomeronasal epithelia were observed. Finally, post hoc analyses indicate that experience with opposite-sex conspecifics affects some behavioral and electrophysiological responses. Overall, our data indicate that chemical cues from conspecifics affect general activity and courtship behavior in axolotls, and that both the olfactory and vomeronasal systems may be involved in discriminating the sex and reproductive condition of conspecifics.

Keywords

Electro-olfactogramOlfactoryPheromoneSalamanderVomeronasal

Abbreviations

EOG

electro-olfactogram

VNO

vomeronasal organ

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Park
    • 1
  • J. M. McGuire
    • 1
  • A. L. Majchrzak
    • 1
  • J. M. Ziobro
    • 1
  • H. L. Eisthen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA