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Population densities and home range of the vulnerable Pyrenean brook newt in its core aquatic habitat

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posted on 14.02.2022, 07:40 authored by Manon Dalibard, Laëtitia Buisson, Aurélien Besnard, Alexandre Riberon, Pascal Laffaille
Accurate estimations of population size and space-use are critical issues, for assessing population trends and extinction risk. In this study, we applied spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) modelling customized for linear habitats
to a three-year Capture-Mark-Recapture (CMR) monitoring of three populations of stream-dwelling Pyrenean brook newt (Calotriton asper), an endemic species of the Pyrenean mountain range. Our aim was to explore (1) spatial and temporal variation in population densities, home range size and individual detection probability during breeding season between populations and years, and (2) the influence of water temperature and flow on activity of newts. Estimates of population density range from 3044 to 4641 individuals/km of stream across the three years of the study. Linear home range along the stream was estimated to be 13.31 m from the home range centre on average over the three years. All detection probability estimates were similar, both between years and between sites, with a mean probability of 0.09, except in Fougax in 2020 where detection probability was 0.03. Activity of the Pyrenean brook newt was influenced by water temperature and flow,
but these factors acted at different time scales. Overall, population densities are locally high in both populations but home range of the Pyrenean brook newt during breeding season is very small indicating a strong site attachment. The importance of water temperature and flow on activity emphasizes the sensitivity of the species to these factors that are forecasted to change in coming decades.

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