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Movements of Alpine newts (Mesotriton alpestris) between small aquatic habitats (ruts) during the breeding season

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Many species with complex life cycles, such as caudate amphibians, migrate from terrestrial to aquatic habitats for reproduction. However, movements between reproductive ponds within a breeding season have rarely been studied and are usually considered to be limited. Our aim was to determine whether this pattern occurs frequently in Alpine newts (Mesotriton alpestris) inhabiting complexes of small ruts on muddy forest tracks. We analysed capture-recapture data for individually marked newts as a function of locality, sex, body condition and hydroperiod throughout the breeding season. More than one third of the newts changed their ruts. Movements occurred more often towards ruts that did not dry during the breeding season. The body condition of males that changed ponds (but not that of females) was higher compared to that of resident newts in one of the studied populations. The relatively high frequency of movements between ruts can be seen as an adaptive strategy in unpredictable habitats which have a high probability of drying. The promiscuous pattern of newts also favours low site tenacity, because few sexual partners are available in each rut. Because of the broad occurrence of this kind of habitat, future studies should take into account these movements to better understand newt population dynamics and how to apply adequate conservation measures.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology, Faculty of Environmental Science, Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Kamýcká 1176, Prague 6-Suchdol, 165 21, Czech Republic, Department of Zoology and Fish Farming, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Kamýcká 957, Prague 6-Suchdol, 165 21, Czech Republic;, Email:; 2: Department of Ecology, Faculty of Environmental Science, Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Kamýcká 1176, Prague 6-Suchdol, 165 21, Czech Republic; 3: Laboratory of Fish and Amphibian Ethology, Behavioural Biology Unit, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Liège, 22 Quai Van Beneden, 4020 Liège, Belgium


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