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Anti-predator response of red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) to chemical cues from garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis): laboratory and field experiments

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Abstract.

Recent laboratory studies show that terrestrial salamanders exhibit anti-predatory behavior in response to chemical cues from predators, but no studies have confirmed these results in the field where environmental and social factors may influence responses. We examined the character and duration of anti-predator behavior of red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) exposed to control stimuli and chemical cues from garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) in evening laboratory and field trials. In the laboratory, P. cinereus significantly avoided snake rinse for 36 h. In the field, P. cinereus exposed to the same cues delayed emergence from refugia for 2 h, but this response did not last to the following morning (12 h later). Individual salamanders found in groups of two or more did not show a differential response to snake cues. These data show that red-backed salamanders respond to predator cues in natural settings, and that shelter size combined with social grouping influence anti-predator behavior.

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Sullivan, A.M., Maerz, J.C. & Madison, D.M. Anti-predator response of red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) to chemical cues from garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis): laboratory and field experiments. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 51, 227–233 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-001-0434-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-001-0434-2

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