We describe oviposition site, clutch characteristics and breeding phenology of a population of Eurycea lucifuga, the cave salamander, from SE Missouri, to understand the impact of biophysical and biotic conditions on a troglophilic species. In the field oviposition occurred in underground rimstone pools over 6 mo, with most reproduction occurring from August to October. Individual females deposited 1–31 eggs per pool, hatching approximately 10–20 d post-oviposition. Larvae remained in the pools as long as 6 mo before moving into the stream. We raised eggs and larvae of E. lucifuga in the lab and compared survival, growth, and development under three temperature regimes. Embryonic growth was slowest at cooler temperatures and produced larger larvae, while temperatures typical of summer surface stream temperatures resulted in high mortality. We suggest that the cool, predator free habitats of midwestern caves have allowed for a longer reproductive season in E. lucifuga, but that the unpredictable hydrology and limited food supply of these cave environments has expanded the breeding period and slowed embryonic and larval development.
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Vol. 63 • No. 3