Larval development and habitat usage of stream-breeding Fire salamanders in an urban environment

Keywords: aggregation, drifting, larval density, metamorphosis, stream habitat, Salamandra salamandra, urbanisation

Abstract

Urbanisation adversely affects the abiotic and biotic characteristics of watercourses, including freshwater streams that support the development of stream-breeding salamanders. We conducted a study over four years on an isolated fire salamander population inhabiting a stream valley northwest of Budapest, Hungary. Our aim was to understand aspects of larval development and habitat usage within this population. The maximum number of larvae was observed in April and the first weeks of May. Due to drifting caused by heavy rainfall, there was a mean decrease of 63.3% in the number of larvae. The abundance of larval salamanders within 16 stream segments showed strong temporal and spatial variation, and there was a strong relationship between larval abundance and the % cover of fine gravel substrate. Some of the larvae could escape drift by entering pools with slower water flow and shelter. Larvae were predominantly solitary in smaller pools but occasionally aggregated in high numbers in some segments. The first larvae with yellow spots (indicative of metamorphosis) appeared in June, and by early September, all larvae were metamorphosing. Our results show that in this urbanised environment, larval development through to metamorphosis is occurring, but increasing urbanisation and alterations to stream flow threaten the persistence of the local population.

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Published
2022-10-28
How to Cite
KissI., VörösJ., & HamerA. J. (2022). Larval development and habitat usage of stream-breeding Fire salamanders in an urban environment. Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 68(4), 321-340. https://doi.org/10.17109/AZH.68.4.321.2022