The Fire Salamander

Being part of the new funded Collaborative Research Center, we will investigate niche conformance in fire salamander larvae within the next four years.

The habitat has a strong influuence on risk taking behaviour – this is the result of our latest fire salamander paper, published in Ethology. Using two different risk taking tests we showed that fire salamanders originating from ponds sought shelter more often than larvae from streams.

Ethology Salamander Paper

Two test setups to test for risk taking behaviour in fire salamander larvae. (a) the shelter emergence test and (b) the shelter seeking test

The amount of yellow is dependent on early nutritional conditions. Being more yellowish seems to be advantageous for metamorphosed fire salamanders, as clay models with more yellow have a lower attack rate compared to clay models with less yellow. If you are interested in this please find our recent paper here published in Amphibia-Reptilia.

Figure 3

Sibling pair of fire salamanders, reared under different nutritional conditions during the larval phase – suboptimal nutritional conditions (left) vs. superior nutritional conditions (right).

I investigate the impact of assortative mating and a potential influence of chemical cues on speciation in a recently diverging fire salamander population. Female fire salamanders, Salamandra salamandra, usually deposit fully developed larvae intFire salamander (Salamandra salamandra)o first order streams, however in the absence of these specific deposition habitats, females also use temporary ponds.Genetic analysis revealed that two genetic clusters exist which can be linked to the larval habitat. Fire salamanders are only aquatic during the larval stage and adults of both genetic clusters, i.e. larval habitat types can be found together. I investigated whether fire salamanders mate assortativley with respect to their habitat type to prevent gene flow and to maintain the two genetic clusters and whether chemical cues are involved in mate recognition.

In a recent paper we investigated whether fire salamander females exhibit different larval deposition strategies with respect to their habitat linked genotype. We observed that females differed in larval deposition behaviour and maternal investment. Pond-type females extended larval deposition over an increased time period and tended to exhibit more deposition events compared with stream-type females. Over successive deposition events, the body condition of larvae deposited by stream-type females decreased faster than that of larvae deposited by pond-type females (Caspers et al. 2015).

Media Coverage

sciencedaily 29.11.2013

3Sat Nano “Salamanderfrauen riechen Partner” 30.6.2009

Related Publications

Oswald, P,  Tunnat B, Hahn L, Caspers BA (2020): There’s no place like home: Larval habitat type and size affect risk-taking behaviour in fire salamander larvae (Salamandra salamandra).  Ethology 126:914–921

Caspers BA, Krause ET, Hermanski I,  Wiesbrock C, Kastrup F-W, Steinfartz S (2020) Developmental costs of yellow coloration in fire salamanders and experiments to test the efficiency of yellow as a warning colouration. Amphibia-Reptilia 1:1-13

Sanchez E, Gippner S, Vences M, Preißler K,  Hermanski IJ, Caspers BA, Krause ET, Steinfartz S, Kastrup FW (online) Automatic quantification of colour proportions in dorsal black-and-yellow coloured amphibians, tested on the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra). Herpetology Notes 11: 73-76

Krause ET, Caspers BA (2016) Long-term consequences of early nutritional conditions on the behaviour and growth of fire salamanders Amphibia-Reptilia 37: 69-77

Caspers BA, Steinfartz S, Krause ET (2015) Larval deposition behaviour and maternal investment of females reflect differential habitat adaptation in a genetically diverging salamander population. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 69:407-413 DOI10.1007/s00265-014-1853-1

Caspers BA, Krause ET, Hendrix R, Kopp M, Rupp O, Rosentreter K, Steinfartz S (2014) The more the better – polyandry and genetic similarity are positively linked to reproductive success in a natural population of terrestrial salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). Molecular Ecology 23:239-250

Krause ET, Caspers BA (2015) The influence of a water current on the larval deposition pattern of females of
a diverging fire salamander population (Salamandra salamandra). Salamandra 51(2):156–160

Ibanez A, Caspers BA, Lopez P, Martin J, Krause ET (2014) Is the reaction to chemical cues of predators affected by age or experience in fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra)? Amphibia-Reptilia

Krause, E.T., v Engelhardt, N., Steinfartz, S., Trosien, R., & Caspers, B.A. (2013): Ultrasonography as a minimally invasive method to assess pregnancy in the fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). Salamandra 49:211-214

Caspers, B.A., & Steinfartz, S. (2011): Preference for the other sex: Olfactory sex recognition in terrestrial fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). Amphibia-Reptilia 32:503-508

Krause, E.T., Steinfartz, S., & Caspers, B.A. (2011): Poor-nutritional conditions during the early larval stage reduce risk taking activities of fire salamander larvae (Salamandra salamandra). Ethology 117:416-421

Caspers, B., Junge, C., Weitere, M., & Steinfartz, S. (2009): Habitat adaptation rather than genetic distance correlates with female preference in fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). Frontiers in Zoology 6:13