Territoriality has been well-documented in terrestrial plethodontid salamanders. However, most studies of territoriality have focused either on defense of single cover objects or on defense of areas of forest floor. In nature, cover objects tend to occur in groups, and little is known about how cover-object distributions affect territory defense and salamander spatial associations. We manipulated cover-object spacing within a home range and used mark–recapture data to examine the effects of these manipulations on intra- and intersexual spatial associations in the red-backed salamander, Plethodon cinereus. Similar total numbers of salamanders were found in the different treatments, and salamanders moved between cover objects with similar frequency regardless of cover-object spacing. However, male spatial associations were affected by cover-object spacing, with males never found simultaneously under adjacent cover objects. Furthermore, the spatial associations of males and females differed among the cover-object spacing treatments. Males and females shared the same cover object 76% of the time when cover objects were adjacent, but only 37% of the time when cover objects were separated by 1 m. Our results suggest that P. cinereus often use multiple cover objects within a home range, and that males may defend these while they are using them. Additionally, males and females appear to adjust their use of cover objects with respect to the home ranges of opposite sex salamanders.
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Vol. 66 • No. 3