Habitat dependent patterns of reproductive success in the common newt

Amphibians are particularly amenable to studies at the level of populations, and currently receive significant public attention by playing a key role in wetland conservation.

Common newt (Triturus vulgaris)
Common newt (Triturus vulgaris)

DNA-based genetic markers have led to a wealth of information in the study of wild populations, but their use in combination with experimental ecological approaches has so far been mostly neglected.

The project uses the European urodele amphibian Triturus vulgaris (the common newt) as a model species to investigate the influence of habitat quality on the maintenance of within-species genetic diversity in isolated populations.

The project combines of semi-natural breeding ponds ("mesocosms") for which individual density and habitat quality will be manipulated, and the use of microsatellite DNA methods to identify the parental origin of each offspring produced.

The aims of the proposed project have the following three dimensions:

  • to determine the reproductive success of each individual in experimental newt populations by genetic parentage analysis using microsatellite markers, and to document the between-population flexibility of the observed patterns under varying ecological conditions
  • to investigate under differential ecological regimes whether individuals with higher genetic diversity are more successful in reproduction than more inbred individuals
  • to test the hypothesis that the genetic erosion of isolated amphibian populations is accelerated by suboptimal environmental conditions during breeding


Dr Robert Jehle (2003-2006)

April Whitlock (2003-2004)


Professor Terry Burke, University of Sheffield

Professor Walter Hoedl, University of Vienna, Austria (2002-2004)

Marc Sztatecsny, University of Vienna, Austria (2002-2004)


Genetic testing of GIS-based models of dispersal in Triturus newts

Analysis of a two-species newt metapopulation using microsatellites


Jehle R & Arntzen JW (2002) Review: Microsatellite markers in amphibian conservation genetics. Herpetological Journal, 12, 1-9.

Selected background references

Jehle R, Arntzen JW, Burke TA, Krupa A & W Hödl (2001) The annual number of breeding adults and the effective population size of syntopic newts (Triturus cristatus, T. marmoratus). Molecular Ecology, 10, 839-850.

Erratum: Krupa et al. (2002) Microsatellite loci in the crested newt (Triturus cristatus), and their utility in other newt taxa.Conservation Genetics, 3, 87-89.

Krupa AP, Jehle R, Dawson DA, Gentle LK, Gibbs M, Arntzen JW, Burke T (2002) Microsatellite loci in the crested newt (Triturus cristatus), and their utility in other newt taxa. Conservation Genetics, 3, 87-89.

This project is funded by the FWF (Austrian Science Foundation).

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