New publication: antipredator behavior of Barton Springs Salamanders in response to aquatic invertebrates

Davis.etal.2017_Figure2The Barton Springs Salamander, Eurycea sosorum, is a fully aquatic salamander found in Barton Springs in Texas, USA, and has benefited from habitat restoration efforts. While important to improve overall habitat quality for this imperiled species, current management and restoration practices may also inadvertently increase the abundance of non-target organisms such as predatory invertebrates. Fish represent major predators of this species, but little is known about the role of invertebrates as potential predators. It is important to understand the role of these aquatic invertebrates as predators of E. sosorum, especially if habitat restoration also increases predator abundance. Using adult, predator-naive salamanders, we examined the antipredator response of E. sosorum to chemical cues from the following treatments: crayfish, dragonfly larvae, snails, and water. Salamanders decreased activity (antipredator behavior) only in response to the crayfish treatment. The responses to dragonfly larvae, snails, and water did not differ, suggesting that dragonfly larvae are not perceived as predators by these salamanders. Our study provides preliminary evidence suggesting that habitat restoration has unexpectedly increased crayfish abundance, which in turn may negatively affect E. sosorum, and that future management strategies should consider crayfish removal if salamander abundances decline with increasing crayfish abundance.

Davis DR, DeSantis DL, Gabor CR. 2017. Antipredator behavior of the Barton Springs Salamander (Eurycea sosorum) in response to aquatic invertebrates: potential consequences from habitat restoration. Hydrobiologia 795:129–137. [PDF]