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1 June 2017 Terrestrial Salamanders Alter Antipredator Behavior Thresholds Following Tail Autotomy
Margaret M. Bliss, Kristen K. Cecala
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Abstract

Prey animals avoid and survive encounters with predators through morphological and behavioral mechanisms, but these defenses can negatively affect fitness when individuals forgo foraging and reproductive opportunities. Although many studies have focused on the costs associated with antipredator behavior, few have evaluated how that behavior changes immediately following a nonlethal interaction with a predator. Understanding how differences in species ecology (i.e., autotomy and regeneration capabilities) influence antipredator behaviors prior to and following a predation attempt could provide insight into how animals cope with living among predators. In this study, we evaluated the antipredator and compensatory behaviors of Northern Zigzag Salamanders (Plethodon dorsalis) to determine how attempted predation affects behavioral responses to perceived predation risk. In a laboratory setting, we performed behavioral assays evaluating escape distance, exploratory movements, cover use, eating habits, and temperature preferences on individuals assigned to attacked (tail autotomy) and control treatments. We found differences in antipredator and compensatory responses between the two treatments, indicating that responses change relative to previous experiences with predators and present risk of predation. Our results indicate that attacked individuals had lower thresholds to elicit a behavioral response relative to control individuals and compensated for loss of resources and decreased locomotive ability by selecting warmer-temperature microhabitats. This study provides insight into how individuals cope with living amongst predators and emphasizes the need to explore behavioral changes following predation.

© 2017 by The Herpetologists' League, Inc.
Margaret M. Bliss and Kristen K. Cecala "Terrestrial Salamanders Alter Antipredator Behavior Thresholds Following Tail Autotomy," Herpetologica 73(2), 94-99, (1 June 2017). https://doi.org/10.1655/Herpetologica-D-16-00059.1
Accepted: 1 February 2017; Published: 1 June 2017
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