Seasonal movement patterns in a subalpine population of the tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum
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Whiteman, Howard H.
Wissinger, Scott A.
Bohonak, Andrew J.
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Seasonal movements of a subalpine population of metamorphic tiger salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum, were explored from 1990 to 1992. Metamorphic adults bred in permanent and semipermanent habitats during June of each year. After breeding, soma individuals returned to the terrestrial environment, but many remained and congregated in nonpermanent ponds. Metamorphic adults in nonpermanent ponds included those that moved from permanent ponds, those that bred and remained in semipermanent ponds, and those that did not breed but migrated from the terrestrial environment after the breeding season. Dietary analyses indicated that metamorphic adults in nonpermanent ponds have significantly greater numbers, biomass, and calories of prey in their gut than the few metamorphic adults remaining in permanent ponds. This difference was due to the presence of fairy shrimp (Branchinecta coloradensis), which composed 91 % of metamorphic adult diets in nonpermanent ponds and accounted for three times the average caloric value of all prey in gut samples from metamorphic adults in permanent ponds. Intraspecific competition also may have contributed to movement into nonpermanent ponds: post-breeding densities of metamorphic adults in permanent ponds were inversely related to the densities of other morphs (paedo-morphic adults and large larvae). We conclude that metamorphic A. t. nebulosum in this population utilize nonpermanent ponds after the breeding season because of the abundance of high-quality aquatic prey and reduced competition from con-specific morphs.