Alpine Salamanders II

Alpine and Fire Salamanders in Austria and Europe; review of the current situation and protective measures

The Alpine Salamander is a glossy black amphibian that gets as long as 14 cm and lives in the Alps at altitudes from 600 up to 2500 m a.s.l. The Fire Salamander with its yellow spots or stripes is the best-known salamander species in Europe. Fire Salamanders measure 16-20 cm and live in mixed deciduous forests up to 1500 m a.s.l. Everybody knows Alpine- and Fire Salamanders, but in fact our actual academic record about the distribution area, behavior and population dynamics of the salamanders is small. This research project intended to answer these questions with an innovative approach that unifies environmental education and nature conservation. To clarify the exact distribution, population size and development of the salamanders, we needed the help of the general public. The main goal of the research project was to report all sighted salamanders on one map to get an exact distribution map of the salamanders. With several schools, a monitoring of fire salamander larvae was carried out. Doing that, the children got an insight into scientific work with amphibians and the development of specific salamander populations will be documented over years. Furthermore, the project explores the historical development of salamanders over the last decades to clarify the impact of human habitat changes on salamanders. Many old people still know about salamander occurrences that are completely extinct nowadays. By means of interviews done by pupils, this knowledge could be preserved and used for protection measures. By integrating international cooperation partners and schools in Europe, large scale protection measures for salamanders are applied. Thus, the rare and endangered subspecies of fire and alpine salamander are also included. On, all salamanders can be reported very easily via GoogleMaps: click on the map, zoom in, search the exact location, double-click, fill in the form and save. This long-term research project brings children an understanding of the biology of amphibians, protection measures for amphibians, collection of scientific data, GoogleMaps, Web2.0 and a long-lasting conservation of nature.

This project has been completed.