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1 January 2016 Cannibalistic-morph Tiger Salamanders in Unexpected Ecological Contexts
K. I. McLean, C. A. Stockwell
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Abstract

Barred tiger salamanders [Ambystoma mavortium (Baird, 1850)] exhibit two trophic morphologies; a typical and a cannibalistic morph. Cannibalistic morphs, distinguished by enlarged vomerine teeth, wide heads, slender bodies, and cannibalistic tendencies, are often found where conspecifics occur at high density. During 2012 and 2013, 162 North Dakota wetlands and lakes were sampled for salamanders. Fifty-one contained A. mavortium populations; four of these contained cannibalistic morph individuals. Two populations with cannibalistic morphs occurred at sites with high abundances of conspecifics. However, the other two populations occurred at sites with unexpectedly low conspecific but high fathead minnow [Pimephales promelas (Rafinesque, 1820)] abundances. Further, no typical morphs were observed in either of these later two populations, contrasting with earlier research suggesting cannibalistic morphs only occur at low frequencies in salamander populations. Another anomaly of all four populations was the occurrence of cannibalistic morphs in permanent water sites, suggesting their presence was due to factors other than faster growth allowing them to occupy ephemeral habitats. Therefore, our findings suggest environmental factors inducing the cannibalistic morphism may be more complex than previously thought.

© 2016 American Midland Naturalist
K. I. McLean and C. A. Stockwell "Cannibalistic-morph Tiger Salamanders in Unexpected Ecological Contexts," The American Midland Naturalist 175(1), 64-72, (1 January 2016). https://doi.org/10.1674/amid-175-01-64-72.1
Received: 29 May 2015; Accepted: 1 September 2015; Published: 1 January 2016
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