Amphibians are the most threatened vertebrates on Earth, and one of the main factors involved in their decline is the loss and fragmentation of their natural habitats. Contemporary urban development is a major cause of habitat fragmentation, and populations trapped within urban environments offer a unique opportunity to study effects of fragmentation. Here, we compared, for the first time in fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra), estimates of census (N) and effective population size (N e ) in a small urban population in the city of Oviedo (Spain). We performed a 4 year capture-mark-recapture study and used three single-sample N e estimators based on 58 individuals genotyped for 15 polymorphic microsatellite loci. Our study showed a small (N^=113 salamanders; 95 % CI 100–142) but dense population (mean 0.45 individuals per m2), while single-sample estimators provided congruent N e estimates. A high N e /N population size ratio (range 0.50–0.84) obtained in this small and isolated population suggests the existence of mechanisms of genetic compensation (low reproductive variance and multiple paternity) in fire salamanders.
Journal: Conservation Genetics Resources