Mar 5, 2016

Effect of acute low body temperature on predatory behavior and prey-capture efficiency in a plethodontid salamander

Physiology & Behavior
Glenn A MarvinJacob Dawson


The low-temperature limit for feeding in some salamander species (Desmognathus, Plethodontidae) has been inferred from field studies of seasonal variation in salamander activity and gut contents, which could not determine whether feeding is more dependent on environmental conditions influencing salamander foraging behavior or prey availability and movement. We performed two controlled laboratory experiments to examine the effect of short-term (acute) low body temperature on predatory behavior and prey-capture efficiency in a semiaquatic plethodontid salamander (Desmognathus conanti). In the first experiment, we quantified variation in the feeding responses of cold salamanders (at 1, 3, 5 and 7°C) to a video recording of a walking, warm (15°C) cricket to determine the lower thermal limit for predatory behavior, independent of any temperature effect on movement of prey. Experimental-group salamanders exhibited vigorous feeding responses at 5 and 7°C, large variation in feeding responses both among and within individuals (over time) at 3°C, and little to no feeding response at 1°C. Feeding responses at both 1 and 3°C were significantly less than at each higher temperature, whereas responses of control-group individuals at 15°C did...Continue Reading

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