In some populations of the Two-Lined Salamander (Eurycea bislineata) species complex, males exhibit two alternative reproductive tactics: “searching” and “guarding.” Searching males have secondary sexual characters—including a large, pheromone-producing mental gland—used in terrestrial courtship, whereas guarding males have hypertrophied jaw musculature used in mate-guarding behavior near aquatic nesting sites. Although this polymorphism occurs in at least four evolutionarily distinct lineages, previous histological studies have only focused on soft-tissue differences in one of these species and no studies have evaluated osteological differences between alternative reproductive tactics. Herein, we present new histological and osteological data from three evolutionarily distinct lineages within the E. bislineata species complex. We confirmed that traditional mental glands are restricted to searching males and that caudal courtship glands are present in both male phenotypes, but not in females. We also found variation in other skin glands that warrants further investigation. Cleared and stained specimens and microcomputed tomography data both revealed substantial osteological differences in skull morphology. Compared with searching males, guarding males have increased skull ossification, fewer and larger teeth, and more pronounced otic and squamosal crests. Together, these data expand our knowledge of morphological differences between alternative reproductive tactics, and we discuss the implications of our results for hypotheses regarding phenotypic plasticity throughout the lifetime of an individual male.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.