[en] amphibian decline ; fish introduction ; generalized additive model ; habitat complementation ; metapopulation structure ; amphibian ; environment ; landscape ecology ; ecological modelling ; distribution ; habitat ; pond ; invasive species ; Lissotriton helveticus ; palmate newt ; biological conservation ; Larzac ; introduced fish ; Carassius auratus ; GAM ; abundance
[en] Recent studies in population dynamics suggest that landscape processes and habitat quality act at different scales on population abundances, but very few have modelled their simultaneous effects. However, at a time of large declines in natural populations, it is essential to understand such multivariate components. We tested the hypothesis that natural populations of palmate newts (Triturus helveticus) are affected on three scales: breeding patch (pond), habitat complementation (terrestrial cover), and metapopulation. structure (density of ponds, surrounding populations). We conducted our survey in 130 ponds from southern France (Larzac) and analysed data with generalized additive models (GAM). Two main novel results emerge from these models: (1) the three landscape scales have significant effects on newt abundance, with more newts in deep, vegetated ponds, devoid of fish and surrounded by wooded areas and inhabited ponds; (2) the quality of the surrounding breeding patches is of primary importance in determining the abundance at core sites in a complex way: high abundances are associated positively with high densities of inhabited ponds, but negatively with the number of surrounding ponds. Deforestation, invasive species and abandonment of ponds all have negative impacts on the persistence of palmate newt populations. Future studies should encompass landscapes at different scales and incorporate the habitat quality in surrounding sites to better understand population dynamics and. provide adequate conservation measures.
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS