A test of alternative hypotheses for kin recognition in cannibalistic tiger salamanders

David W. Pfennig, James Collins, Robert E. Ziemba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The function of kin recognition is controversial. We investigated the adaptive significance of kin discrimination in cannibalistic tiger salamander larvae, Ambystoma tigrinum. Previous laboratory experiments show that cannibals preferentially consume less related individuals. We hypothesized that this example of kin recognition (1) is a laboratory artifact, (2) is a by-product of sibship-specific variation in escape responses, because cannibals from families with rapid responses may be more likely to cannibalize slowly escaping non-kin, (3) is an epiphenomenon of species recognition, (4) functions in disease avoidance, because kin may be more infectious than non-kin, or (5) is favored by kin selection. We evaluated these five hypotheses by using laboratory and field experiments to test specific predictions made by each hypothesis. We rejected hypotheses 1-4 above because (1) kin recognition was expressed in the wild, (2) escape responses did not reliably predict whether a cannibal would ingest kin or non-kin, (3) kin recognition was not most pronounced in populations where tiger salamanders co-occur with other species of salamanders, and (4) non-kin prey were more likely than kin to transmit pathogens to cannibals. However, we established that the necessary condition for kin selection, Hamilton's rule, was met. Thus, our results implicate kin selection as the overriding reason that cannibalistic tiger salamanders discriminate kin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-443
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Volume10
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

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Ambystoma
kin recognition
kin selection
testing
Ambystoma tigrinum
Urodela
salamanders and newts
Artifacts
Larva
artifact
pathogen
larva
prediction
test
salamander
pathogens
larvae
Population
laboratory experiment

Keywords

  • Ambystoma tigrinum
  • Cannibalism
  • Disease transmission
  • Hamilton's rule
  • Kin discrimination
  • Kin selection
  • Salamanders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

A test of alternative hypotheses for kin recognition in cannibalistic tiger salamanders. / Pfennig, David W.; Collins, James; Ziemba, Robert E.

In: Behavioral Ecology, Vol. 10, No. 4, 1999, p. 436-443.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Pfennig, David W. ; Collins, James ; Ziemba, Robert E. / A test of alternative hypotheses for kin recognition in cannibalistic tiger salamanders. In: Behavioral Ecology. 1999 ; Vol. 10, No. 4. pp. 436-443.
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