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The Response of Naive Breeding Adults of the Spotted Salamander To Fish

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Several recent investigations have shown that somc species of salamanders are capable of perceiving the presence of fish in breeding ponds through olfaction. It has been suggested that breeding adult salamanders may avoid depositing eggs in pools containing fish. We examined the hypothesis that breeding salamanders avoid fish ponds through olfactory cues in two field tests. In the first, naive spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) restrained within screened enclosures were submerged in either fish or fishless ponds. The number of eggs laid within each enclosure was counted at the conclusion of breeding. There was no difference in the number of eggs within and among four fishless and three fish ponds. In the fourth fish pond the fish harassed the salamanders and completely inhibited reproduction. We repeated the experiment using double screened enclosures in which the salamanders were free from direct fish attack but were still exposed to fish scent. There was no difference in egg production. The second test repeated the design of the first but provided the salamanders with the choice of remaining in the double screened enclosures or exiting the pond. The test animals from both the fish and fishless ponds responded similarly in their breeding activities. We conclude that naive spotted salamanders do not avoid fish ponds based solely on olfactory cues.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130; 2: Department of Anatomy, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, U.S.A.


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