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The role of water-borne chemical cues in mediating social interactions of the Texas blind salamander, Eurycea rathbuni

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Association patterns and social interactions of salamanders vary given habitat heterogeneity and behavioural characteristics. Cave ecosystems are generally food limited and encountering mates may be rare. Little is known about the mode of social interactions and preferences in cave-adapted salamanders. We examined social interactions of the caveadapted, federally endangered, Texas blind salamander, Eurycea rathbuni, by examining sex-specific association patterns. We predicted that non-visual (chemical) cues would be an important mode of communication. We found no difference in association patterns between the sexes when presented with a single conspecific and no aggregative behaviours were detected. Interestingly, when given a simultaneous choice between a male or female, females preferred to associate with male conspecifics while males showed no clear preference. The results suggest that females of E. rathbuni use chemical cues to either seek males or avoid females and provide valuable insight into the little known social behaviour of this species and possibly other similar species.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA;, Email:; 2: Department of Biology, Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA


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