Behaviour 2019
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Relationship of color morph with life history and behavioral traits in the Eastern Red-backed Salamander
Kristen J. Epp, Monica Hernandez Rodriguez. Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT, United States

The Eastern Red-backed Salamander is an abundant terrestrial woodland species found throughout the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. Red-backs exhibit two common color morphs: striped and unstriped. Some research has suggested that there are ecological or physiological differences between salamanders exhibiting different morphs, though clear consensus on those differences remains elusive. We used data collected during a long-term mark-recapture study to examine the relationship of morphology with various life history traits (survivorship, growth rates, and reproduction) and behaviors (cohabitation and site fidelity). Six 5x10-m coverboard arrays of 50 boards each were surveyed three times each spring and fall from fall 2016 to spring 2021. We recorded color morph, size, sex, number of eggs, and location of captured salamanders before uniquely marking them with fluorescing elastomer (VIE) and returning them to their coverboards. Our ability to identify individual salamanders over multiple years lends unique insights into the biological and ecological implications of color morphology in this species.