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Salamandra salamandra
Fire Salamander
Subgenus: Salamandra
family: Salamandridae
subfamily: Salamandrinae

© 2013 Andreas Nöllert (1 of 197)

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Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
See IUCN account.
CITES No CITES Listing
Other International Status Not threatened
National Status Red Data Book of Ukraine.
Regional Status Bern Convention (Annex 3).

   

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Description
Tail cylindrical, shorter than body with head. Conspicuous parotoid glands behind eyes are pigmented. Dorsal and lateral skin black, with large yellow to orange spots and/or bands. Yellow pattern varies among subspecies, although it is not entirely reliably for subspecies identification. Belly skin black or brownish. Females generally larger than males and possess relatively shorter extremities and tail. Male's cloaca much more swollen than female's cloaca.

Size: up to 250 mm, sometimes almost 300 mm.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
The species is distributed from the Iberian Peninsula to Iran and from North Africa to North Germany. The genus consists of variable forms, the taxonomy of which has not been revised as yet. Some of the former subspecies of Salamandra salamandra are now recognized as separate species and the separation of more species can be expected. Populations of S. s. salamandra from Turkey are genetically closely related to the S. s. infraimmaculata group. The species inhabits mainly deciduous and mixed, sometimes conifer forests. Populations inhabiting anthropogenic landscapes and unforested habitats can be considered, as a rule, as relicts of formerly forest dwellers. The spotted coloration of this salamander seems to play two roles: cryptic, when the spots on black background allow the animal to hide on the forest floor, where there are alternate spots of sun and shadow, and aposematic, where bright spots indicate poisonous skin secretions.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Over a large part of its range, S. salamandra seems to be not a rare species, but its abundance declines in many regions. In unwooded areas the species is generally rarer than in forests.

Females are active in daytime during the breeding period; afterwards adults are active at twilight, spending the day under logs, snags, stones, rodent burrows and holes. During rainy weather salamanders regularly leave their hiding places by day. The appearance of active salamanders on the land surface in day time indicates the approach of rain. Hibernation, typically in groups, occurs in the northern part of the range, whereas in the south (e.g., in Israel) activity ceases during hot summer period. Similarly, in central Europe reproduction occurs between spring and autumn, whereas at the south of the range it is confined to winter. Mating takes place on land, and male-male combats for a female often takes place. The species is typically viviparous, and the female releases the young into water, usually shallow brooks. The number of larvae per female, as well as their stage at birth time, varies among subspecies. Salamandra salamandra bernardezi and, sometimes, S. s. fastuosa give birth to completely metamorphosed young salamanders. Larval development takes several months, but in many cases they overwinter and finish their metamorphosis in the next year. Most larvae occur in fishless parts of brooks, which is caused by fish predation. As a rule, larvae start active feeding just after birth. Age changes in diet during ontogeny are minor and related mainly to the use of larger prey. Larvae consume primarily upon rheophilous invertebrates: Gammaridae, larval Ephemeroptera, Diptera, etc. In semi-flowing waters, typical limnophilous preys (e.g., Diaptomidae) are included in their diet. Adults do not consume the small preys that are eaten by juveniles: Acarina, Geophylomorpha, and Collembola. However, they eat large Mollusca, Myriapoda (Oniscomorpha, Polydesmida and Juliformia), Coleoptera, etc.

Trends and Threats
In historical perspective, the range seemed to be constricted, mainly due to deforestation. In some places (e.g., in Ukrainian Carpathians) declines of populations take place due to anthropogenic influences.

Relation to Humans
Habitat destruction, pollution, and collecting for commercial purposes (mainly pet trade) are the main threats for the populations. Destruction of forests and overcollecting cause the declines of some populations.

Comments
The systematics of the genus Salamandra is in progress. Some forms earlier recognized as subspecies of the species S. salamandra have acquired specific rank.

References
 

Bannikov, A. G., Darevsky, I. S., Ishchenko, V. G., Rustamov, A. K. and Szczerbak, N. N. (1977). Opredelitel Zemnovodnykh i Presmykayushchikhsya Fauny SSSR. Prosveshchenie, Moscow.  

Freytag, G.E. (1955). Feuersalamander und Alpensalamander (Die Neue Brehm BĂĽcherei Bd. 142). A. Ziemsen, Wittenberg-Lutherstadt.  

Gasc, J. P. , Cabela, A., Crnobrnja-Isailovic, J., Dolmen, D., Grossenbacher,K., Haffner, P., Lescure, J., Martens, H., Martinez Rica, J. P.,Maurin, H., Oliveira, M. E., Sofianidou, T. S., Vaith, M., and Zuiderwijk, A. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica and MusĂ©um National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.  

Greven, H. and Thiesmeier, B., eds. (1994). Biology of Salamandra and Mertensiella (Mertensiella Supplement 4). DGHT, Bonn.  

Griffiths, R.A. (1996). Newts and Salamanders of Europe. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.  

Klewen, R. (1988). Die Landsalamander Europas, Teil I, Die Gattungen Salamandra und Mertensiella. A.Ziemsen, Wittenberg Lutherstadt.  

Kuzmin, S. L. (1995). Die Amphibien Russlands und angrenzender Gebiete. Westarp Wissenschaften, Magdeburg.  

Kuzmin, S. L. (1999). The Amphibians of the Former Soviet Union. Pensoft, Sofia-Moscow.  

Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.  

Szczerbak, N. N. and Szczerban, M. I. (1980). Zemnovodnye i Presmykayushchiesya Ukrainskikh Karpat [Amphibians and Reptiles of Ukrainian Carpathians]. Naukova Dumka, Kiev.  

Thiesmeier, B. (1992). Okologie des Feuersalamanders. Westarp Wissenschaften, Essen.



Written by Sergius L. Kuzmin (ipe51 AT yahoo.com), Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
First submitted 1999-10-06
Edited by Meredith J. Mahoney (2010-02-17)



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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2014. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed: Oct 20, 2014).

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