1 1Present address: Sebastian Steinfartz, University of Bielefeld, Department of Animal Behavior, Morgenbreede 45, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany
2 2University of Cologne, Institute of Genetics, Weyertal 121, D-50931 Cologne, Germany
3 3Present address: Sebastian Steinfartz, University of Bielefeld, Department of Animal Behavior, Morgenbreede 45, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany, University of Cologne, Institute of Genetics, Weyertal 121, D-50931 Cologne, Germany, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We studied patterns of annual movement of individual adult fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) during the years 2001 and 2002 in Western Germany in a typical middle European habitat for this species. We tested whether salamanders inhabit small home ranges and move little during the activity period as predicted for a species that shows strong site fidelity to a limited area. Initially, 98 individuals were collected in their natural habitat and marked with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Of those individuals 88 were released at the collection site for recapture during the activity periods of the years 2001 and 2002. Ten marked individuals were kept in captivity to test for the tolerance of PIT tags. We did not find any negative impact of PIT tags on marked individuals of S. salamandra, neither under captive nor natural conditions. Forty-seven of the marked individuals (corresponding to 53% of the 88 released ones) were recaptured at least once and 28 individuals (corresponding to 32%) were recaptured multiple times. The return rate of males (78%) was higher than for females (43%). Mean home range size (and standard deviation) was estimated to 494 ± 282 m2 for 4 individuals as the minimum convex polygon based on 5 to 6 recapture events for each individual per year and to 1295 ± 853 m2 for 3 individuals with 8 records over two years. Minimum distances moved inferred from individual recaptures increased during the activity period of both years with time, indicating that individuals have more of a tendency to disperse than to stay within a limited area. Our data suggest therefore that S. salamandra adults display site fidelity, but use a much larger area than hitherto documented for this and other terrestrial salamander species.