Molecular Identification of an Avian Predator of Mimetic Salamanders

Todd W. Pierson, Kennesaw State University
Jasmyne Blake-Sinclair, Kennesaw State University
Benjamin Holt, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Natural field observations of salamander predation are uncommon, in some cases limiting the ability of scientists to study the evolution of toxicity, aposematism, and mimicry in these amphibians. Here, we document field observations of recently depredated salamanders: 1 Pseudotriton ruber (Red Salamander) and 2 Gyrinophilus porphyriticus (Spring Salamander), members of a putative Müllerian mimetic complex involving Notophthalmus viridescens (Eastern Newt). We used molecular methods to identify the likely avian predator of the Spring Salamanders and underscore the opportunities for future research enabled by the pairing of traditional natural history with modern molecular techniques.