Post-breeding migrations of newts (Triturus cristatus and T. marmoratus) with contrasting ecological requirements

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Abstract

Two newt species with contrasting ecological requirements (Triturus cristatus and T. marmoratus) were radio-tracked after leaving a shared breeding pond in western France. Movements of 30 individuals were recorded over 491 days. During the first terrestrial night, the newts migrated with high directionality up to 137 m to their refuges. Burrows of small mammals were among the favourite refuges. Movements after the first night were mostly underground and over shorter distances (< 6.8 m). Sixty-four per cent of all tracked newts stayed within 20 m of the pond edge, and migrations were recorded up to 146 m away from the pond. Both species preferred areas with bushes, hedgerows and trees, and avoided pastures and open areas. Migration in the direction of a habitat type characterized by trees and underground shelters was favoured over migrations in other directions. A clear terrestrial niche separation between the two newt species was not observed. The results are discussed in relation to previous findings that T. cristatus supersedes T. marmoratus as a consequence of anthropogenic change to the terrestrial environment, affecting the species differentially.

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