The small, terrestrial eastern red-backed salamander is abundant on many forest floors of northeastern North America. Dr. Robert Jaeger and many of his graduate students spent over 50 years studying this species in New York and Virginia, using ecological techniques in forests and behavioral experiments in laboratory chambers in an attempt to understand how this species interacts with other species in the forest and the components of its intra- and intersexual social behaviors.
The competitive and social behaviors of this species are unusually complex for an amphibian. This species is highly aggressive towards other similar-size species where they cohabit in forests, often leading to very little geographic overlap between the species. The authors examine the fascinating behavioral traits of this species including social monogamy, mutual mate guarding, sexual coercion, inter-species communication, and conflict resolution.