Transience, dispersal and survival rates in newt patchy populations


P. Joly E-mail


  • 1This work aims to illustrating how it is possible to measure different modalities of adult dispersal in two subdivided populations of the alpine newt (Triturus alpestris). Recent developments in capture–mark–recapture methods make it possible to estimate transience rates from individuals captured only once. In the context of subdivided newt populations, transience is assumed to express nomadic behaviour that contribute to breeding dispersal. Skeletochronology and recaptures within each pond system also made it possible to estimate emigration rates and local dispersal.
  • 2Two subdivided populations of alpine newts were monitored over 4 and 5 years, respectively. Whereas population A is suspected to have been established for more than 100 years, population B was monitored when colonizing a newly created archipelago of ponds.
  • 3Transience was detected in each population at similar rates (37% in population A and 35% in the population B). Annual apparent survival rates were estimated as 82% in population A vs. 33% in population B. Similarity of age structures between populations leads us to consider such low survival rates in population B as resulting from emigration. Emigration was thus negligible in population A and was estimated to reach 57·3% in population B. Conversely, high local dispersal (movements within a pond system) was detected in population A, but not in population B.
  • 4Even though the causation of dispersal in newts (genetic polymorphism vs. phenotypic plasticity) remains unexplored, our study succeeded in identifying several dispersal components that could result from different selective pressures (habitat heterogeneity at different temporal scales). Experimental approaches are needed to investigate the causative bases of these traits.