The Evolution of Salamander Courtship Pheromones

  • Lynne D. Houck


Among vertebrates, the importance of chemical signals and chemosensory perception is unquestioned, especially for mammals (Birch, 1974b; Doty, 1976; Muller-Schwarze and Mozell, 1977). Chemosensory perception also is well documented for many reptiles (Burghardt, 1970), fish (Bardach and Todd, 1970; Liley, 1982; Pfeiffer, 1974; Stacey, 1983), and even some birds (Grubb, 1974; Stager, 1967; Walcott and Lednor, 1983). It is less widely appreciated that the perception and production of chemical information represents a critical mode of communication for amphibians (Madison, 1977), salamanders in particular. Salamanders produce chemical secretions from a glandular skin, from specialized glands located on the head, or from discrete glands within the cloaca (Brodie, 1968; Noble, 1931; Sever, 1976). For many salamanders, skin secretions include noxious poisons that are effective at repelling potential predators (Labanick and Brandon, 1981; Madison, 1977). Within species, salamanders use chemical perception as one of several significant cues when migrating long distances to breeding sites (Dolmen, 1982; Grant et al., 1968; Kleeberger and Werner, 1982; Twitty, 1959, 1961) or when returning to “home” areas from which they have been displaced (Holomuzki, 1982; Madison 1969, 1972; Madison and Shoop, 1970). Forester (1977, 1979) has shown that females of at least one plethodontid species (Desmognathus ochrophaeus) returned from months of foraging in the forest litter to the precise streamside site where they had oviposited in a previous year.


Sexual Selection Mating Success Sperm Competition Courtship Behavior Male Mating Success 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynne D. Houck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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