Title

Evidence of Self Recognition Using Olfactory Cues in the Coastal Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus )

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 137B

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

Chemical cues are used as ubiquitous markers in salamanders (Urodela), and serve as the primary modality for conveying interspecific information such as species identity, kinship, and individual information, as well as territorial markers. Although the role of chemical cues has been widely studied in many Urodele families, particularly plethodontids, studies on the family Dicamptodontidae are very scarce. In order to test if Coastal Giant Salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) are able to use chemical cues to discriminate among self-marked, conspecific marked and blank substrates, we performed unforced two-choice trials. One of 15 individuals was provided with two shelters (plastic tubes), and tested under three scenarios: (i) self-marked vs control, (ii) conspecific marked vs control, and (iii) self-marked vs conspecific marked. Trials were filmed for 12 hour periods and the video analyzed to determine time spent in each shelter. Our results show that D. tenebrosus were able to (i) discriminate between self-marked vs blank tubes, (ii) preferred a tube marked by a conspecific over a blank tube and (iii) preferred a self-marked over a conspecific marked tube. We suggest that attraction to previously marked refuge sites serves as an economical indicator of site quality, which may reduce the risk of unnecessary exposure.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Robert Weaver

Additional Mentoring Department

Biological Sciences

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Evidence of Self Recognition Using Olfactory Cues in the Coastal Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus )

SURC 137B

Chemical cues are used as ubiquitous markers in salamanders (Urodela), and serve as the primary modality for conveying interspecific information such as species identity, kinship, and individual information, as well as territorial markers. Although the role of chemical cues has been widely studied in many Urodele families, particularly plethodontids, studies on the family Dicamptodontidae are very scarce. In order to test if Coastal Giant Salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) are able to use chemical cues to discriminate among self-marked, conspecific marked and blank substrates, we performed unforced two-choice trials. One of 15 individuals was provided with two shelters (plastic tubes), and tested under three scenarios: (i) self-marked vs control, (ii) conspecific marked vs control, and (iii) self-marked vs conspecific marked. Trials were filmed for 12 hour periods and the video analyzed to determine time spent in each shelter. Our results show that D. tenebrosus were able to (i) discriminate between self-marked vs blank tubes, (ii) preferred a tube marked by a conspecific over a blank tube and (iii) preferred a self-marked over a conspecific marked tube. We suggest that attraction to previously marked refuge sites serves as an economical indicator of site quality, which may reduce the risk of unnecessary exposure.