Responses of juvenile terrestrial salamanders to introduced (Lithobius forficatus) and native centipedes (Scolopocryptops sexspinosus)


Carl D. Anthony, Department of Biology, John Carroll University, University Heights, OH 44118, USA. Fax: 216 397 4482


When introduced species invade ecosystems, alterations in community structure can emerge from the competitive and predatory interactions that occur between introduced and native guild members. Because a number of recent studies have shown that large predatory invertebrates can both compete with and prey on small vertebrates and because introductions of non-native species may play a role in amphibian declines, the effects of introduced centipedes Lithobius forficatus and native centipedes Scolopocryptops sexspinosus on juveniles of the red-backed salamander Plethodon cinereus were examined. In laboratory arenas, juvenile salamanders exhibited submissive behaviour in response to the odours of both species of centipede. There were no significant differences in salamander response to the two centipede odour treatments, but compared to controls, juveniles of P. cinereus spent significantly more time in escape and in a flattened submissive posture when presented with native centipede odours. Despite significant size differences between centipedes and juvenile salamanders, no predation of salamanders by either species of centipede occurred in any pairings. Juveniles exhibited more chemosensory behaviour towards native centipedes and towards their odours and exhibited marked reductions in aggressive posturing when centipedes were present. Field and laboratory data suggest that juveniles of P. cinereus and centipedes were negatively associated. In laboratory trials, the native centipede excluded juvenile salamanders from cover objects and we found fewer instances of co-occurrence in the field than expected. These studies are the first to examine the behavioural interactions between juveniles of P. cinereus and invertebrate predators, one introduced and one native, of eastern deciduous forest-floor food webs.