Megan Gibbons Research Interests:

Kin Recognition



For social animals, it is important for individuals to have the capacity to discriminate relatives from non-relatives, especially if parental care is involved.  Much of my research has focused on whether the ability to discriminate kin exists in parents and offspring of red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus).  My studies demonstrate that under laboratory conditions, females preferentially cannibalized unrelated neonates rather than their own.  In addition, while egg discrimination was undetectable in the laboratory, females that were displaced from their brood sites in nature were able to relocate their clutches of eggs and commence brooding behavior.


Click here to access the PDF my published manuscript on parent-offspring discrimination



Past projects with undergraduates at BSC have involved training salamanders to move toward kin or non-kin, based on visual and chemical cues.  During Summer 2002, BSC students Allison Hargett (now with a MS from University of Nevada at Reno) and Meredith Humber found that female salamanders that were trained to move toward their own eggs performed better overall than salamanders that were trained to move toward the eggs of another female.