Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team

Biologist Nathan Mineo

Did You Know...?

Marbled Salamanders Exhibit Parental Care

Written by Nathan Mineo 
Reprinted from the 2006 Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team Newsletter
Photograph by Cheryl Briscoe
Did you know that Marbled salamanders (Ambystoma opacum) exhibit parental care? Amongst the many species of mole salamanders, this sophisticated evolutionary adaptation is found only in the Marbled salamander. Come fall, females construct a cavity under debris in the basin of a dried vernal pond where they deposit their eggs. There the eggs and mother stay for one to three months until the pond fills again, causing the eggs to hatch. 

Experimental evidence suggests that the presence of the female during the one to three month interval increases hatchling success. Selective pressures, such as predation and fungal infestation, may have caused the evolution of this parental behavior. For more information just type "parental care in marbled salamanders" into Google.

Main source: Croshaw, Dean A. and Scott, David E. 2005.
Experimental Evidence that Nest Attendance Benefits Female Marbled Salamanders (Ambystoma opacum) by reducing egg mortality.
American Midland Naturalist 154:398-411

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