Document Type


Publication Date



Responses to stress are generally mediated through the production of glucocorticoids by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (or -interrenal) axis. The prolonged production of stress hormones can contribute to delayed wound healing and growth, but little is known about their influence on regeneration following tail autotomy, or exploratory behaviour in autotomized individuals. Here we examined the relationship between stress, re-generation, and exploratory behaviour in Allegheny Mountain dusky salamanders (Desmognathus ochrophaeus) by manipulating corticosterone (CORT) levels via cutaneous patch. First, we measured tail regeneration in salamanders with elevated CORT for 13 weeks after the induction of tail autotomy. Test subjects received a weekly patch to wear for one hour that was saturated with either a low CORT (0.25 mg/ml) or high CORT (0.50 mg/ml) solution. Individuals receiving CORT patches regenerated significantly less of their tail length and volume (versus control), but without exhibiting dose-dependent effects. Second, we used a factorial design to evaluate the effects of autotomy and elevated CORT on exploration within a test arena consisting of low barriers arrayed in concentric rings. Individuals experiencing tail autotomy exhibited significantly less exploratory behaviour indicated by an increased latency to cross first barrier and a decreased number of barriers crossed. Neither elevated CORT (0.50 mg/ml), nor the interaction between elevated CORT and tail autotomy significantly affected salamander activity within the array. Although CORT did not have a direct effect on explorative behaviour, a delay in regeneration attributed to CORT could lead to changes in patterns of movement in autotomized individuals.


Originally published in Zoology, Vol. 139, (2020), 125751

Included in

Biology Commons