Establishment of the Regional Monitoring Program for the Dinaric Populations of Alpine Salamanders

Establishment of the Regional Monitoring Program for the Dinaric Populations of Alpine Salamanders

Project Animal(s) : Alpine Salamanders
Project Category : Amphibians
Project Region : Europe
Project Type : Research
Project URL : https://www.bhhuatra.com/
Project is timebound? : Yes

Project Start Date : February 27, 2017

Ongoing climate change jeopardizes the persistence of many populations of plants and animals. Especially at risk are populations that are restricted to isolated habitats and specialized to specific environmental conditions which is the case of the alpine salamander.

The alpine salamander (Salamandra atra) has a continuous distribution in the Alps and a disjunct in the Dinarides. Dinaric populations, known as the subspecies S. a. prenjensis, represent a unique evolutionary lineage within the species. Thanks to Rufford Small Grants we started researching prenjensis populations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Many distribution analysis so far could not reconfirm the presence of the species in localities along the Dinarides that are listed as occurrence points in old literature. We suspect that these populations may have gone extinct in such areas possibly as a result of climate changes. Through this project we aim to permanently mark 200 individuals of salamanders in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) in order to follow their population dynamics thorough the upcoming years. For such monitoring we will apply the Capture-mark-recapture methodology (CMR) using biochips (PIT tags). Information provided from such monitoring will help us understand how populations react to changing environments. Additionally, in the course of the project so far, a few Dinaric individuals that were kept in captivity for research purposes were diagnosed with Ranavirus. It is crucial to understand if the origin of the virus comes from the field, therefore through this project we will collect skin swabs to answer this important question. Despite setting up a long-term monitoring scheme, the project will also enforce the regional network and enable local experts to conduct similar projects on other population species.

This project, is, to our knowledge, the first example of such a regional amphibian monitoring in the entire Balkan region. The public reach out involves the production of a promotional movie concerning the life and future of the alpine salamander from the Dinarides. A big mural depicting the species will be painted under the Mountain Čvrsnica to address the need to protect the habitats of the species in B&H since these are the only unprotected areas along the areal of the prenjensis. The result of our work will be reported to IUCN.

Project Agency : BHHUTRA

Project Researcher : Emina Šunje

Project Researcher Contact : [email protected]