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Terrestrial ecology of juvenile great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) in a woodland area

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The great crested newt Triturus cristatus is declining in many parts of its range. Although the aquatic ecology of this species is well known, the terrestrial ecology of great crested newts remains poorly understood, especially that of juveniles. This study examined the terrestrial ecology of juvenile great crested newts from March to October, 2008 to 2011 over four years within Epping Forest, UK. Sixty-three cover objects (logs and stones) were sampled weekly. While 28% of juveniles were only encountered once, 72% were observed for between one and seven months per year, often exhibiting a pattern of repeated presence and absence. This suggests that juveniles may remain within small home ranges close to natal ponds to feed and grow. Body Condition Index (BCI) scores varied significantly with seasons, with the highest values in spring and the lowest values in summer. BCI scores were highest after milder winters. Apparent monthly survival of juveniles varied between 0.12 and 1.00 while the estimated number of juveniles present under refuges ranged between three and 50. Findings from this study increase our understanding of the ways in which juveniles utilise cover objects and demonstrate that estimates of body condition and monthly survival vary between March and October over a four year period.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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