Many small terrestrial vertebrates exhibit limited spatial movement and are considerably exposed to changes in local environmental variables. Among such vertebrates, amphibians at present experience a dramatic decline due to their limited resilience to environmental change. Since the local survival and abundance of amphibians is intrinsically related to the availability of shelters, conservation plans need to take microhabitat requirements into account. In order to gain insight into the terrestrial ecology of the spectacled salamander Salamandrina perspicillata and to identify appropriate forest management strategies, we investigated the salamander's seasonal variability in habitat use of trees as shelters in relation to tree features (size, buttresses, basal holes) and environmental variables in a beech forest in Italy. We used the occupancy approach to assess tree suitability on a non-conventional spatial scale. Our approach provides fine-grained parameters of microhabitat suitability and elucidates many aspects of the salamander's terrestrial ecology. Occupancy changed with the annual life cycle and was higher in autumn than in spring, when females were found closer to the stream in the study area. Salamanders showed a seasonal pattern regarding the trees they occupied and a clear preference for trees with a larger diameter and more burrows. With respect to forest management, we suggest maintaining a suitable number of trees with a trunk diameter exceeding 30 cm. A practice of selective logging along the banks of streams could help maintain an adequate quantity of the appropriate microhabitat. Furthermore, in areas with a presence of salamanders, a good forest management plan requires leaving an adequate buffer zone around streams, which should be wider in autumn than in spring.
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1007/s00114-017-1500-6|
|Codice identificativo ISI:||WOS:000412340100012|
|Titolo:||Seasonality and microhabitat selection in a forest-dwelling salamander|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|