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Abstract

The sexual behaviour of Triturus cristatus is described. The first stage of sexual behaviour consists of an orientation phase in which the male approaches the female, sniffs her and moves in front of and perpendicular to her. The second stage is a prolonged period of static display with two different tail movements, called Fan and Lash, in 13.8 ± 1.3 bouts (x̄ ± SE) with intervals of 10.5 ± 0.3 s between bouts. Each bout contains 6.7 ± 0.3 regular Fan beats at a frequency of 0.5–0.8 Hz. This Fanning provides olfactory and mechanical stimulation to the female. 15% of bouts also contain a violent Lash, in which the male rapidly slaps the female's flank. Some Lashes are used to stop the female when she tries to move away. In the third stage of the sexual sequence, the male turns away, Creeps for 6.7 ± 0.3 s (x̄ ± SE) and then Quivers his tail. A receptive female follows and touches his tail, and the male deposits a spermatophore and then turns to one side with his tail folded along his flank in a position called Brake. The female now approaches again and the male steps away sideways in a movement called Rebrake. After several Rebrakes the male stops, the female touches his tail and the spermatophore may now be picked up in her cloaca. This sequence can be repeated several times during one encounter. This behaviour is discussed in relation to previous studies of courtship in this genus.