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Full Access Courtship behaviour, mating season and male sexual interference in Salamandrina perspicillata (Savi, 1821)

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Courtship behaviour, mating season and male sexual interference in Salamandrina perspicillata (Savi, 1821)

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The knowledge of reproductive behaviour of Salamandrina perspicillata, an endemic Italian salamander, is still fragmented and not exhaustive; and the only detailed observations were made just once in a terrarium. We describe many aspects of the terrestrial courtship behaviour such as male alert posture, substrate marking trail, approach and pursuit, tail undulation and vent swinging, and spermatophore deposition and pick-up. The courting pair follows an ellipsoidal track during this manoeuvre a spermatophore is deposited by the male just in front of the female who will reach the spermatophore as she continues to circle. No body contacts were observed during the courtship. Tail movements play a key role in the communication between sexes as well as between antagonistic males. Male-male combat involves biting as the main deterrent. We found that the mating season in wild populations is in the spring, differing from that reported previously for mating in captivity (winter) or extrapolated from the beginning of sperm storage (autumn). Each of these points is discussed in light of available information on social communication, sexual dimorphism, courtship evolution, and sperm storage.

Affiliations: 1: Viale Togliatti 101, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (FI), Italy; 2: Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Roma "Tor Vergata", Via della Ricerca Scientifica, I-00133 Rome, Italy


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