Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsWalls, SC, Blaustein, AR
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Type of ArticleJournal Article

The effect of kinship on larval cannibalism was examined in the marbled salamander. In separate behavioural trials, cannibalistic larvae were presented with two smaller conspecifics (a 'prey group'), matched for size, that were (1) siblings of the cannibal, (2) non-siblings and (3) one sibling and one non-sibling (i.e. a mixture of two sibling groups); larvae were allowed to consume only one conspecific during each trial. This experiment was repeated in 2 consecutive years with larvae from two different populations. In both years, significantly fewer cannibals ate a non-sibling from the mixed sibship group than from groups composed of two non-siblings. In contrast, the number of cannibals that ate a larva from the pure sibling prey group did not significantly differ from the number that ate their sibling from the mixed sibship prey group. Thus, small larvae were significantly more vulnerable to cannibalism by their siblings than by non-siblings. The availability of unrelated individuals as alternative prey did not deter cannibals from eating their siblings, even though cannibals readily consumed prey of either genotype when the alternative one was absent. This kinship-biased cannibalism apparently was not due to size-selective predation or to differences among sibships in their propensity to cannibalize siblings. Moreover, the behaviour of potential prey did not differ towards related versus unrelated cannibals during initial observations of larval interactions. Cannibals required similar amounts of time to capture and process both sibling and non-sibling prey. To our knowledge, our results provide the first evidence of sibling cannibalism when unrelated individuals are available as alternative prey. (C) 1995 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

URL<Go to ISI>://WOS:A1995RP91600025