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Avoidance Response By Adult Newts (Cynops Pyrrhogaster and Notophthalmus Viridescens) To Chemical Alarm Cues

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Many fishes and aquatic invertebrates use chemical alarm cues to avoid predation, however relatively little is known about the occurrence of chemical alarm cues in amphibians. We tested the response of adult fire-bellied newts (Cynops pyrrhogaster) and red-spotted newts (Notophthalmus viridescens) to chemical cues from damaged tissues of newts and other salamanders. Both species avoided chemical cues from a conspecific skin extract. Notophthalmus viridescens also avoided chemical cues from C. pyrrhogaster skin extract, but the converse was not true. Neither species avoided chemical cues from a conspecific viscera extract, plethodontid salamander (Desmognathus and Plethodon) skin extracts, or a conspecific skin extract which had been heated. These results indicate that the avoidance behaviour is an alarm response to chemical cues released from damaged newt skin and is not a general response to chemical cues from damaged salamander tissue. This study provides the best evidence to date for an avoidance response by caudate amphibians to chemical alarm cues.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, U.S.A.

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