Intraspecific communication is an important component of social behavior in many species. In urodeles, chemical signals found in scent marks or other glandular secretions are often the mechanism by which such communication occurs. I tested the hypothesis that individuals of Batrachoseps attenuatus, the California slender salamander, can discriminate between self-marked substrates and substrates marked by conspecifics. After housing salamanders (n = 30) for five days with moistened sphagnum moss, I presented each individual in 15-min behavioral trials with two pieces of moss, one from the individual's own housing chamber and the other from a conspecific's chamber. Individuals nose-tapped (chemodetection) significantly more often and spent significantly more time in the threat posture when in the vicinity of conspecific-marked substrates relative to self-marked substrates. This suggests that individuals of B. attenuatus discriminate between self-marked substrate and conspecific-marked substrate, implying self-recognition, and that this discrimination may be effected by scent marks.
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Vol. 58 • No. 2