The focal species of my PhD thesis is the black salamander (Salamandra atra), an endemic species from the Alpine arc. Its distribution is well documented, but very little is known about its genetic structure. On this aspect, I will focus on three different geographical scales:
- the entire distribution of the species to learn more about its evolutionary history, and highlight different lineages in a perspective of conservation;
- a regional scale to quantify the gene flow between distinct populations and evaluate the influence of landscape features on it;
- the population level to study the relatedness between individuals in relation to their spatial position.
On the population level, an accent will also be put on population dynamics. Actually, this species is a very cryptic amphibian, whose activity is highly related to climatic conditions. As this species can spend most of its time underground when the conditions are not good, their probability of capture in the field can be highly variable and biases the evaluation of population densities and considerations on the population dynamic that follows. I will perform capture- mark -recapture experiments to evaluate the emigration rates between the subterranean and surface populations and determine which parameters have an influence on it. This will help to improve the monitoring of this species in the future.
This project is sustained by the KARCH (Koordinationsstelle für Amphibien- und Reptilienschutz in der Schweiz) and is funded by the Conservation de la Faune (VD), the Office Fédéral de l'Environnement, des Forêts et du Paysage (OFEFP, CH), the MAVA Fundation, the Agassiz Fundation and the Conférence des Recteurs des Universités Suisses (CRUS).