The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

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pdf 05. Breeding patterns in a fringe population of fire salamanders, Salamandra salamandra


Open Access


Authors: M. R. Warburg

Abstract: The fire salamander, Salamandra salamandra, population on Mt. Carmel was studied for 15 years. This is a particularly interesting population as it inhabits the southern-most habitat in which this species is found in Israel, and thus the south-eastern fringe area of its entire palaearctic distribution.
The ovoviviparous female breeds during both November and December. The November cohort is likely to die of desiccation as the ponds dry out due to interrupted rains. Only every third year (on average) is November wet enough to enable the ponds to contain enough water, to give the larvae a chance to survive to metamorphosis. Some of these larvae will have an advantage, due to their cannibalistic traits enabling them to prey on the later larval cohorts of December. These cannibalistic larvae develop rapidly and metamorphose at a greater size than the average larvae.
The survival of this salamander population depends on a balance between two conflicting strategies: early breeding and late breeding. The first is advantageous during years with early winter rains when the larvae can survive long enough to be able to prey upon the later larval cohorts. On the other hand, late breeding is advantageous in dry years when larvae in the early cohorts die of desiccation.


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