Conservation of newt guilds in an agricultural landscape of Belgium: the importance of aquatic and terrestrial habitats


  • Mathieu Denoël,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Fish and Amphibian Ethology, Behavioural Biology Unit, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
    • Mathieu Denoël, Laboratory of Fish and Aquatic Ethology, Behavioural Biology Unit, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Liège, 22 Quai van Beneden, 4020 Liège, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author
  • G. Francesco Ficetola

    1. UMR CNRS 5553 Biology of Alpine Populations, University of Savoie, Le Bourget du Lac, France
    Search for more papers by this author


  • 1.Amphibians are declining worldwide in response to local and global pressures. Pond-breeding species are particularly vulnerable to environmental change because they rely on two components of the landscape: aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Agricultural practices are changing rapidly at world and local scales. As a consequence, farm ponds and their surrounding terrestrial landscapes will probably be affected.
  • 2.This study investigated the main habitat determinants for the occurrence of four species of newts (genus Triturus) inhabiting the Pays de Herve, a rural area in Belgium. Newt occurrence was determined for 258 ponds and the effect of habitat on distribution determinants was evaluated using generalized linear models.
  • 3.Newts were found in 42% of the ponds. Contrary to expectations, the distribution of newts was not positively associated with a high density of ponds. However, a low occurrence of newts and the low water depth of many ponds suggest a low quality of habitats. Proximity to forest, deep water, and an absence of fish in ponds are factors that significantly favour newts, but terrestrial habitat requirements vary among species.
  • 4.These results indicate the necessity of maintaining both forest and meadow patches in close proximity to ponds inhabited by newts, and of controlling fish introduction in those ponds. These findings stress the importance of conservation and management of terrestrial and aquatic habitats for maintaining amphibian diversity.

Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.