Maternal behavior of the Redbacked Salamander, Plethodon cinereus

TitleMaternal behavior of the Redbacked Salamander, Plethodon cinereus
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1964
AuthorsBachmann MDorothy Da
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages161 pp.
UniversityUniversity of Michigan
CityAnn Arbor, MI

During the nesting season, eggs of Plethodon cinereus have been found attended by a female. From this it was assumed that attendent females are the ones which laid the eggs, that they remain with them from oviposition to hatching and that their presence enhances the survival of the eggs. The purpose of this study was to test these hypotheses by observing females with their eggs in the laboratory. From these observations it was hoped that specific information could be obtained regarding the behavioral patterns of these animals during the nesting period and the type and degree of maternal care, if any, received by the eggs and young. Brooding females and their eggs were collected from forest areas near Pellston, Michigan during the summers of 1958-1960. During these collections, data were obtained on the characteristics and locations of nests, commonly found in large, decaying hemlock logs. Temperature, relative humidity, moisture content and pH also were obtained for the logs in which nests had been found. ... It can be concluded that the female found with eggs in the field is probably, but not necessarily, the one which laid the eggs, and that she remains throughout the nesting season, leaving the cavity permanently only after the young have left the cavity (about 2 weeks). Her presence reduces the tendency of the eggs to mold, helps eggs and young retain moisture and provides protection from predators of both eggs and young.