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Rapid onset of mate-quality assessment via chemical signals in a woodland salamander (Plethodon cinereus) Public Deposited

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  • In the competition to acquire mates, environmental factors can be important in determining the relative quality of an individual. These aspects of quality are often conveyed through signals used for mate assessment by the most energetically-invested sex. In red-backed salamanders, Plethodon cinereus, chemical signals communicate a surprising amount of information, much of which is dependent on the current condition of the sender. One such condition-dependent aspect of information conveyed via chemicals is the quality of the sender’s diet, but it is unclear as to whether this information is actively advertised by the sender (i.e., a signal) or simply inferred from food-derived odors (i.e., a cue). The amount of time on different diets required for changes in signaling is also unknown. I examined how quickly gravid female salamanders could detect a difference between the scents of males on high vs. low-quality diets without fecal cues. The amount of protein present in two known signaling glands (the mental and postcloacal glands) was also measured after experimental feeding. Gravid females were able to infer the differences in male diet quality after only one week. Females also responded to the male scents more quickly after differential feeding had begun. High-quality males had significantly more protein present in both signaling glands than low-quality males. This scenario highlights the ongoing interplay between the quality of an individual and its environment, with males actually advertising the status of this relationship as an honest signal for mate assessment.
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  • Chouinard, A. J. (2012). Rapid onset of mate quality assessment via chemical signals in a woodland salamander ( plethodon cinereus ). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66(5), 765-775. doi: 10.1007/s00265-012-1324-5
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  • 66
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  • 5
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  • I thank Dr. Michelle Scott for her help and advice, as well as for the funding related to animal housing and dietary items. Funding for this assay was provided by the National Science Foundation grant awarded to Dr. Rick Feldhoff (IOS-0818649).
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  • description.provenance : Made available in DSpace on 2013-01-31T00:54:09Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1 ChouinardAdamZoologyRapidOnsetMate.pdf: 320363 bytes, checksum: a7c0646ea384191078592444c8efaa35 (MD5) Previous issue date: 2012-05
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