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Maintenance of biodiversity in vineyard-dominated landscapes: a case study on larval salamanders



Matteo Tanadini, Viktoriastrasse 55, 8050 Zürich, Switzerland. Tel: +41 91 791 60 31; Fax: +41 91 791 60 31



Alteration of natural habitats as a result of agricultural intensification is detrimental for wildlife. There is, however, growing evidence that land use and management can be wildlife friendly. In Europe, agricultural areas cover two-thirds of the land and therefore play a major role in maintaining biodiversity. Agricultural land use is very intense in vineyard-dominated landscapes but there are no refuges for wildlife in the form of ecological compensation areas. In our study, we assessed spatial variation in abundance of salamander (Salamandra salamandra) larvae in relation to land use and stream characteristics in vineyard-dominated landscapes. Abundance of larval salamanders depended positively on weirs, amount of riparian vegetation along the streams and environment-friendly agricultural practice in the vineyards. Surprisingly, road density also had positive effects, presumably through indirect effects (stone walls along roads may serve as refugia). Thus, abundance is determined by characteristics of both the aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Our results suggest that fire salamanders can persist in landscapes dominated by intensive agriculture like viticulture, indicate wildlife-friendly management options and highlight that man-made habitat can be valuable for wildlife.