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Antipredator Adaptations of Asian Salamanders (Salamandridae)

Edmund D. Brodie, Jr., Ronald A. Nussbaum and Marianne DiGiovanni
Herpetologica
Vol. 40, No. 1 (Mar., 1984), pp. 56-68
Published by: Allen Press on behalf of the Herpetologists' League
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3892461
Page Count: 13
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Antipredator Adaptations of Asian Salamanders (Salamandridae)
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Abstract

Antipredator adaptations previously undescribed in this family are described for Tylototriton, Echinotriton, Mertensiella and Paramesotriton. Tylototriton verrucosus has concentrations of enlarged granular glands located in many regions (corresponding closely to the distribution of orange pigmentation on the dorsal surface). It has defensive postures to display each of these glandular regions to predators and elongated blunt ribs that are used to elevate the lateral warts. Echinotriton andersoni has a similar distribution of enlarged granular glands, but it exhibits a stereotyped rigid antipredator posture. It also has elongated, sharp ribs with sharp epipleural processes. These pierce through the lateral warts which are concentrations of enlarged granular glands. Echinotriton also has a sharp, forward-facing hook on each quadrate bone near the surface of skin bearing enlarged granular glands. Paramesotriton chinensis is unique among all salamanders in that it flips onto its back when bitten by shrews. This behavior displays the brightly patterned ventral surface. Paramesotriton caudopunctatus lacks the bright venter and does not flip onto its back when attacked. Pachytriton brevipes, an aquatic salamandrid, does not display any antipredator behavior other than escape, although it is distasteful to shrews. Mertensiella caucasica displays an active posture in which the body is coiled and the tail is elevated over the head and undulated or lashed toward a touch. This display is similar to those of many plethodontids and ambystomatids but is not found in any other salamandrid.

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