Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Sarah K. Woodley
John A. Pollock
Richard P. Elinson
androgen, pheromone, salamander, sex differences, steroid
Non-volatile chemosensory cues may be detected by sensory neurons of the vomeronasal organ (VNO) and elicit changes in reproductive behavior and physiology of conspecifics. In the terrestrial salamander, Plethodon shermani, the VNO of males is larger than that of females, despite males' smaller overall body size. I hypothesized that a larger VNO reflects an enhanced ability to detect chemosensory cues, and that animals with elevated levels of steroid levels would be more sensitive to cues from the opposite sex.
Chemo-investigatory behavior was both sexually dimorphic and hormonally modulated. In contrast, responsiveness of the VNO (as measured by agmatine uptake, a marker of sensory neuron activation) to chemosensory cues did not differ between the sexes or animals with different levels of sex steroid hormones. Differences in responsiveness to chemosensory cues between the sexes and reproductive conditions is occurring behaviorally, but not at the level of the VNO.
Schubert, S. (2006). The Effects of Sex and Reproductive Condition on Chemosensory Communication in the Terrestrial Salamander, Plethodon shermani (Master's thesis, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1158