It wouldn’t be hard to miss the brightly colored North African Fire Salamander (Salamandra algira), though these striking amphibians are few in number in Algeria, the target country for this project. Algeria plays a vital biogeographical role between the Maghreb and Europe and yet there is very little data about the ecology of the Algerian amphibians, who play an important role in this system. Both the North American Fire Salamander and the Edough Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles poireti) are endemic here and seem to have a limited distribution. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the Edough Ribbed Newt, which exists in fewer than five locations throughout the Edough Peninsula, as an endangered species. The newt, in fact, is considered the most rare and endangered species in Algeria. The IUCN lists the North African Fire Salamander as a rare species in Algeria, but classifies the species globally as vulnerable.
Despite the fact that the Edough Ribbed Newt is endemic and has tremendous ecological significance, there is no conservation plan for the species, in part because researchers haven’t studied its ecology to understand how best to protect it. GWC helped support the ASA and partners to identify where the species breeds and the threats to those habitats. It appears the newt is breeding in very few ponds, mainly in the lowlands, close to urban areas. The newt’s habitat is in steep decline, both in terms of extent and quality as the result of urban expansion, pollution and even invasive species. The Edough Ribbed Newt may actually be much more endangered than thought, with only a few populations left in the wild. The North African Fire Salamander might be faring better because it inhabits mountainous forests further from urban areas, but deforestation is threatening their distribution range.
This project aims to conduct more field surveys to identify more suitable habitat for the species, and to gather data on the ecology and biology of these poorly understood species. The main goals of the project are to:
- Collect occurrence data for both species through systematic surveys of the wetlands in and around Mont Edough
- Characterize breeding-site parameters for each species
- Identify the potential threats and causes of the potential declines of each of these species
- Propose guidelines to prevent the extinction of these two amphibian species
North African Fire Salamander (Salamandra algira), Edough Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles poireti)