Specific Dynamic Action of Ambystomatid Salamanders and the Effects of Meal Size, Meal Type, and Body Temperature

Physiol Biochem Zool. Jul-Aug 2006;79(4):720-35. doi: 10.1086/505511. Epub 2006 Jun 21.


The past decade has witnessed a dramatic increase in studies of amphibian and reptile specific dynamic action (SDA). These studies have demonstrated that SDA, the summed energy expended on meal digestion and assimilation, is affected significantly by meal size, meal type, and body size and to some extent by body temperature. While much of this attention has been directed at anuran and reptile SDA, we investigated the effects of meal size, meal type, and body temperature on the postprandial metabolic responses and the SDA of the tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum). We also compared the SDA responses among six species of Ambystoma salamanders representing the breadth of Ambystoma phylogeny. Postprandial peaks in VO(2) and VO(2), duration of elevated metabolism, and SDA of tiger salamanders increased with the size of cricket meals (2.5%-12.5% of body mass). For A. tigrinum, as for other ectotherms, a doubling of meal size results in an approximate doubling of SDA, a function of equal increases in peak VO(2) and duration. For nine meal types of equivalent size (5% of body mass), the digestion of hard-bodied prey (crickets, superworms, mealworms, beetles) generated larger SDA responses than the digestion of soft-bodied prey (redworms, beetle larvae). Body temperature affected the profile of postprandial metabolism, increasing the peak and shortening the duration of the profile as body temperature increased. SDA was equivalent among three body temperatures (20 degrees, 25 degrees, and 30 degrees C) but decreased significantly at 15 degrees C. Comparatively, the postprandial metabolic responses and SDA of Ambystoma jeffersonianum, Ambystoma maculatum, Ambystoma opacum, Ambystoma talpoideum, Ambystoma texanum, and the conspecific Ambystoma tigrinum mavortium digesting cricket meals that were 5% of their body mass were similar (independent of body mass) to those of A. t. tigrinum. Among the six species, standard metabolic rate, peak postprandial VO(2), and SDA scaled with body mass with mass exponents of 0.72, 0.78, and 1.05, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Annelida
  • Body Temperature*
  • Cyprinidae
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Food*
  • Gryllidae
  • Mice
  • Tenebrio
  • Time Factors
  • Urodela / physiology*