Mentor: Dr. Kirsten Nicholson
Assessing Interspecific and Intraspecific Behavioral Interactions among Two Ambystomatid Salamanders
Ambystoma laterale and Ambystoma maculatum are two species of North American mole salamanders that co-occur throughout most of the northeastern portions of their range. Despite being well-studied, gaps remain in our understanding of the behavior of salamanders in the family Ambystomatidae. Previous studies have examined density-dependent effects and mechanisms of inter- and intraspecific interactions, but few have examined behavior. Our experiment seeks to assess agonistic behavioral interactions of larval A. maculatum and A. laterale by conducting laboratory behavioral assays. We recorded interactions of the aquatic juvenile form of these species within a laboratory setting (allowing us to eliminate confounding variables encountered in nature). We hypothesized that agonistic behaviors may be advantageous for several reasons, including competition over limited resources and size and growth-rate disparities.