CHEMICAL SIGNALS IN VERTEBRATE PREDATOR-PREY SYSTEMS INVOLVING COMMON MUSK TURTLES, STERNOTHERUS ODORATUS, AND THEIR PREDATORS

Authors

  • Don Moll
  • Neil Dazet

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.17161/jnah.vi1.11896

Keywords:

agkistrodon piscivorus, chelydra serpentina, Common Musk Turtle, Common Snapping Turtle, Cottonmouth, predator attraction, predator deterrence, predator-prey interactions, Rathke's gland, Rathke's gland secretions, RGS, Sternotherus odoratus

Abstract

Rathke’s gland secretions (RGS) of Common Musk Turtles have a variety of proposed functions including predator deterrence and attraction, but experimental studies testing these hypotheses are lacking. This study used laboratory and field experiments to test whether RGS had attraction or repellent effects on two natural predators, the Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), and the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina). In a laboratory experiment, we examined latency to feed and consumption times for Cottonmouths offered RGS-treated minnows and control minnows. In a field study, we investigated the ratio of snapping turtles appearing in traps with and without RGS-treated bait. The latency to feed times for Cottonmouths offered RGS-treated minnows were not significantly different from those offered control minnows. However, prey consumption times for Cottonmouths feeding on RGS-treated minnows were significantly greater than those feeding on control minnows. These results suggest that the RGS may lengthen the time of a predation sequence, possibly allowing the turtle more time to escape from the predator. The number of snapping turtles appearing in traps with RGS-treated bait was significantly greater than the number of snapping turtles in traps without RGS-treated bait. These results support the predator attraction hypothesis, where the signal may attract additional predators that interfere with a predation event, providing an opportunity for the prey to escape.

Downloads

Published

2014-01-31

How to Cite

Moll, D., & Dazet, N. (2014). CHEMICAL SIGNALS IN VERTEBRATE PREDATOR-PREY SYSTEMS INVOLVING COMMON MUSK TURTLES, STERNOTHERUS ODORATUS, AND THEIR PREDATORS. Journal of North American Herpetology, (1), 69–75. https://doi.org/10.17161/jnah.vi1.11896