Lagged influence of North Atlantic Oscillation on population dynamics of a Mediterranean terrestrial salamander
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The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a large-scale climatic pattern that strongly influences the atmospheric circulation in the northern Hemisphere and by consequence the long-term variability of marine and terrestrial ecosystem over great part of northern Europe and western Mediterranean. In the Mediterranean, the effects of the NAO on vertebrates has been studied mainly on bird populations but was rarely analysed in ectothermic animals, and in particular in amphibians. In this study, we investigated the relationships between winter, spring and summer NAO indexes and the long-term population dynamics of the plethodontid salamander Speleomantes strinatii. This terrestrial salamander was monitored inside an artificial cave in NW Italy for 24 consecutive years. The relationships between seasonal NAO indexes and the salamander dynamics were assessed by cross-correlation function (CCF) analysis, after prewhitening the time series by autoregressive moving average statistical modelling. Results of CCF analyses indicated that the salamander abundance varied in relation to the one-year ahead winter NAO (P = 0.018), while no relationships were found with spring and summer indexes. These results strengthen some previous findings that suggested a high sensitivity of temperate terrestrial amphibians to wintertime climatic conditions.
KeywordsAmphibians ARMA Cross-correlation function Mediterranean Underground habitat Winter climate
The Italian Ministry of Environment MATTM issued captures permits in all years (DPN-2010-0010807 for 2010–13). Thanks are due to the Speleological Group “A. Issel” for granting a continuous access to the study site and to the Province of Genova administration for having secured the cave entrance. Two anonymous reviewers and the field editor contributed to improve the manuscript.
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