A pattern-based tool for long-term, large-sample capture-mark-recapture studies of fire salamanders <em>Salamandra</em> species (Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae)
Solid population studies depend on reliable capture-mark-recapture (CMR) methodology. The available methods for such studies on amphibians are often invasive, unsuitable for long-term studies, time-consuming and/or expensive. We present a new software tool, connected to a MS Access database, ManderMatcher, for CMR study of fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra and related species) by means of a robust matching algorithm using 44 pattern characteristics. Metadata related to standardised counts (e.g. weather and lunar variables) as well as a myriad of individual sighting variables can be entered and saved as well. Application of the presented method to a database of 9,397 sighting records gathered over a period of eight years, as well as a random sample validation, demonstrate the accuracy of the applied matching algorithm. Differences with other methods are discussed. The program is made freely available for download and widespread application is encouraged, especially given the contemporary context of a fungal disease threatening survival of fire salamander populations.