Cannibalistic-morph Tiger Salamanders in unexpected ecological contexts

American Midland Naturalist
By: , and 



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.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Cannibalistic-morph Tiger Salamanders in unexpected ecological contexts
Series title American Midland Naturalist
DOI 10.1674/amid-175-01-64-72.1
Volume 175
Issue 1
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher University of Notre Dame
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description 9 p.
First page 64
Last page 72
Country United States
State North Dakota
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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