Influence of Kinship on the Social Behavior of the Four-Toed Salamander, Hemidactylium scutatum

Abigail Berkey, Marlis Douglas, Christopher A. Phillips

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Social interactions among conspecifics are instrumental in a species' spatial ecology, but can also have large impacts on its genetic structure on a micro-scale. However, the potential role of kinship in mediating the interactions of adult plethodontids is poorly 43 understood. Movements of individuals to and from populations are likely limited because of small body size and vulnerability to desiccation, increasing the likelihood of encounters between close relatives. These circumstances create conditions conducive to the evolution of kin recognition and kin discrimination. Kinship may mediate conspecific interactions in territorial species through kin selection, resulting in reduced aggression in encounters between closely related individuals. I staged experiments to examine the behavior of adult, female four-toed salamanders, Hemidactylium scutatum, when exposed to the chemosensory stimulus of conspecifics. Trials were run for each possible dyad of 17 individuals, pairing an acting individual with substrate which had been previously been used by a conspecific as bedding for seven days. During these 30 minute trials, the number of nose taps, amount of activity, and body posture of each individual were recorded. Relatedness among individuals was calculated from microsatellite DNA data and calculated as genotypic similarity between each pair. Mantel tests were used to test for associations between genetic similarity and scored behaviors. Preliminary results suggest that the role of kinship in mediating intraspecific behavior is complex and may be influenced by a number of variables.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2014 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 31 July - 3 August 2014 Chattanooga, Tennessee
StatePublished - 2014


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