Rapid enigmatic decline drives the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) to the edge of extinction in the Netherlands

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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In the Netherlands, the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) is at the edge of its geographic range and is restricted to three small populations in the extreme south of the country. Despite the species being listed as ‘Endangered’ on the national Red List, the situation was considered to be stable. However, from 2008 onwards dead individuals were seen on more than one occasion. A sharp decline in numbers has been observed since 2010 (96%; P<0.01), but we were unable to attribute this to any known cause of amphibian decline, such as chytridiomycosis, ranavirus or habitat degradation. The present work describes this enigmatic decline, and we discuss these results in the context of possible causes.

Amphibia-Reptilia

Publication of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica

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Figures

  • Maximum number of fire salamanders seen/year (bars) and the index (line) in the period 1997-2012. Index (calculated by TRIM) set at 100 at the start of the monitoring programme, shows a dramatic and continuing decline since 2008.

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  • Deceased fire salamanders were generally encountered without external lesions (photo: M. van Mullekom). This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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