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Antipredator Behaviors of the Red Hills Salamander, Phaeognathus hubrichti

Kristin A. Bakkegard
Southeastern Naturalist
Vol. 4, No. 1 (2005), pp. 23-32
Published by: Eagle Hill Institute
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3878155
Page Count: 10
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Antipredator Behaviors of the Red Hills Salamander, Phaeognathus hubrichti
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Abstract

The antipredator behaviors of Phaeognathus hubrichti (Red Hills Salamander), a large fossorial plethodontid, and the basal member of the desmognathine salamanders, are unknown. The responses of P. hubrichti to tongue-flicks from hand-held snakes, tapping with a rod and pinching with a forceps were recorded with a videocamera. When contacted by a snake tongue-flick, P. hubrichti exhibited several antipredator behaviors including immobility, gape, walk, run, head flatten, head elevation, flip, bite, and flinch. One other antipredator behavior-writhe-was observed in the field. The antipredator behaviors of P. hubrichti are more similar to those species in its sister taxon, Desmognathus, than to those of other less closely related fossorial salamanders. Gape, a threat display, is nearly identical to that of Desmognathus quadramaculatus. Gape, bite, and writhe are proposed to be ancestral behaviors in this group.

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