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Conditioned Taste Aversions: Skin Secretions Used for Defense by Tiger Salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum

J. Russell Mason, Michael D. Rabin and David A. Stevens
Copeia
Vol. 1982, No. 3 (Aug. 10, 1982), pp. 667-671
DOI: 10.2307/1444668
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1444668
Page Count: 5
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Conditioned Taste Aversions: Skin Secretions Used for Defense by Tiger Salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum
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Abstract

Skin glands of amphibians produce substances which: a) protect against microbial infestations; b) aid in territorial defense; and c) deter predators. Studies have resulted in the suggestion that learning is involved in predator avoidance of salamanders and that unpalatability may be important. These studies involved the presentation of live salamanders to predators, however, and have not demonstrated the importance of taste for the effectiveness of skin secretions, per se. The present experiments were conducted to assess whether the taste and post-ingestional consequences of such secretions could deter predators. An aqueous solution of salamander skin secretions (MS) licked by water-deprived rats increased approach latencies and decreased the number of approaches to the syringes containing MS while plain water presentations had the opposite effects. Rats given a saccharin solution and then injected with MS subsequently avoided saccharin while water-injected rats did not. Thus, salamander secretions appear to have post-ingestional consequences which could be used to produce conditioned taste aversions.

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