Fire salamander (<em>Salamandra salamandra</em>) males’ activity during breeding season: effects of microhabitat features and body size
After metamorphosis, fire salamander is considered fully terrestrial, usually inhabiting wooded areas around aquatic habitats. It is often reported that only females go back to water for laying the larvae. The aim of this study is to assess if sites where males are active during the breeding seasons have specific features among microhabitat determinants and distance from the breeding sites. In the autumns of 2013 and 2014, we surveyed 26 transects and 72 plots around six isolated breeding sites in North-Western Italy. During rainy nights, we recorded males position and distance from breeding pools, while during daytime we characterized the environmental features of the plots. Males detection probability was relatively high (mean ± SE: 81.0 ± 4.3%). Several males (15% of the observations) were encountered inside breeding pools where females were laying larvae. Males occurrence was positively related to plots closer to breeding pools and higher leaf litter depth. Larger males were found closer to the breeding pools. This case study shows that the distribution of fire salamander males during the breeding season depends on the breeding sites.