Alpine Salamander

Distribution and development of the alpine and the fire salamander in Salzburg

The alpine salamander (salamandra atra) is a pitch black amphibian, which lives in our alpine regions at altitudes between 600 and 2.400 m. Its close relative the fire salamander (salamandra salamandra) is black with yellow spots or stripes and lives in mixed broadleaf forests up to 1.500 m. Both are endangered and strictly protected according to the European FFH guidelines. Hence, efforts to research their habitat and ecology as well as measures for their conservation have highest priority.

Despite their central role in the alpine ecosystem our actual academic record is embarrassingly small. In fact, we know very little about their actual distribution in the Austrian Alps. In order to resolve this shortcoming, this project reaches out to 30 schools to explore the population and distribution of the salamanders in the county of Salzburg, Austria.

The main goal is to map occurrence, population-size and development of the alpine salamander and the fire salamander. Here we will take two approaches. First, we will establish an oral history of salamander observations in the past 50 years by conducting interviews in the local community, such as alpinists, farmers, national park staff, mineral collectors and hunters to preserve their well-versed local knowledge of the salamanders. Second, we will check these regions for actual salamander observations. These data will be collected by school kids and disseminated on our webportal The project will be carried out at the University of Salzburg in collaboration with 30 schools in the county of Salzburg.

School kids will learn about various topics like: the biology of amphibians, conservational biology, research methodology and documentation, Web 2.0 applications, Google maps.

This project has been completed.