Courtship behaviour of the Ouachita dusky salamander, Desmognathus brimleyorum, and a comparison with other desmognathine salamanders



This paper provides the first description of the courtship of the North American Ouachita dusky salamander, Desmognathus brimleyorum (Plethodontidae: Desmognathinae). Heterosexual encounters consist of multiple sequences of courtship, each sequence ending with the deposition of a single spermatophore on the substratum. Insemination is most likely to occur at the end of the final sequence in an encounter. Each sequence contains behaviour patterns that function to orient and synchronize the partners, and enable the male to provide tactile (rubbing and nudging), chemical (snapping and pulling) and, perhaps, visual (jerking) stimulation to the female. In terms of the sequential structure of encounters, the courtship of D. brimleyorum is unique among desmognathine salamanders for which descriptions are available. However, each of the individual behaviour patterns exhibited by D. brimleyorum during sequences of courtship is shown by congeneric taxa. Understanding patterns of similarities among these taxa awaits a phylogenetic analysis of behavioural evolution in the monophyletic Desmognathinae.