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1 September 2015 Stream Salamanders Accurately Assess Size-Dependent Predation Threats
Kristen K. Cecala, Steven J. Price, Michael E. Dorcas
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Individual size is an important determinant of the outcomes of inter- and intraspecific interactions. Different-sized members of a guild might represent prey, competitors, or predators. Although direct predation rates might be low, trait-mediated indirect effects of predators on prey can yield altered activity, microhabitat use, survival, and growth. If individuals respond to all sizes of a predator regardless of the predation threat, antipredator behaviors might incur costs for prey as they forgo foraging opportunities or experience predation by other predators. Accurate assessment of predation risk would minimize costs resulting from antipredator behavior. We evaluated the ability of larval salamanders to assess predation risk and alter their habitat selection in response to intraguild competitors and predators. Specifically, we assessed behavioral responses to the presence of a conspecific, a similarly sized heterospecific, and a small or large individual of a predatory species. We predicted that larval salamanders would select habitat differently in the presence of a large predatory heterospecific, but not in the presence of similarly sized heterospecifics or conspecifics. The focal species occupied habitat 29 ± 0.02% farther from a large heterospecific predator than from small heterospecifics, even if the heterospecifics were smaller individuals of the predatory species. The focal species also exhibited escape behaviors only in the presence of the large members of the predatory species. These data indicate that salamander larvae can assess size-specific predation threats, minimizing predation risk through use of antipredator behaviors.

© 2015 by The Herpetologists' League, Inc.
Kristen K. Cecala, Steven J. Price, and Michael E. Dorcas "Stream Salamanders Accurately Assess Size-Dependent Predation Threats," Herpetologica 71(3), 184-189, (1 September 2015).
Accepted: 1 May 2015; Published: 1 September 2015

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