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The Effectiveness of Antipredator Secretions and Behavior of Selected Salamanders against Shrews

Edmund D. Brodie, Jr., Robert T. Nowak and William R. Harvey
Copeia
Vol. 1979, No. 2 (May 18, 1979), pp. 270-274
DOI: 10.2307/1443413
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1443413
Page Count: 5
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The Effectiveness of Antipredator Secretions and Behavior of Selected Salamanders against Shrews
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Abstract

A total of 520 salamanders of 7 species were offered to short-tailed shrews, Blarina brevicauda, to assess the antipredator value of salamander skin secretions. Desmognathus ochrophaeus were fully palatable. Eurycea bislineata, Plethodon cinereus, P. jordani from two populations, P. glutinosus, Ambystoma maculatum and Gyrinophilus porphyriticus survived significantly more often that D. ochrophaeus and are, therefore, considered to be distasteful to shrews. Shrews used significantly more time to kill noxious species than the palatable one. Each salamander species exhibited antipredator postures in response to approach and biting by the shrew. The postures of the noxious species always involved elevation and undulation or lashing of the tail. This activity places the tail dorsum and its concentration of granular glands in proximity to the attacking shrew. B. brevicauda exhibited behavior patterns (e.g., mouth pawing, squeaking and avoidance) confirming the noxiousness of the presumed distasteful salamanders after biting them.

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