, Volume 188, Issue 4, pp 1069–1080 | Cite as

Context-dependent dispersal, public information, and heterospecific attraction in newts

  • Hugo Cayuela
  • Odile Grolet
  • Pierre JolyEmail author
Population ecology – original research


Dispersal is one of the main processes that determine community structure. Individuals make dispersal decisions according to environmental and/or social cues that reflect the fitness prospects in a given patch. The presence and abundance of heterospecifics within the same ecological guild, and/or their breeding success, may act as public information that influences movement decisions. To date, most studies investigating the role of heterospecific attraction have focused on habitat choice, using both experimental and correlational approaches. The present study is the first to examine how long-term variation in heterospecific density in breeding patches may affect dispersal patterns in spatially structured populations. We investigate how the dispersal decisions of the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) are related to the variable density of two other newt species, the alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris) and the palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus). To examine this issue, we used capture–recapture data collected in an experimental pond network over a 20-year period. The results revealed that the great crested newt’s dispersal is context dependent and is affected by variation in heterospecific density: individuals were less likely to emigrate from ponds with high heterospecific density and were more likely to immigrate to ponds with high heterospecific density. These findings suggest that individuals adjust their dispersal decisions at least partly based on public information provided by heterospecifics. This mechanism may play a critical role in the dynamics of spatially structured populations and community functioning.


Dispersal Heterospecific attraction Public information Triturus cristatus Ichthyosaura alpestris Lissotriton helveticus 



This research program was supported by the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF). The Pierre Vérots Foundation made the long-term monitoring possible by providing the use of a protected area free of intensive agriculture. The Foundation also contributed to the creation of the ponds and the maintenance of the surrounding meadows, as well as providing technical support for newt capture. Furthermore, it provided a well-equipped laboratory, making it possible to mark and measure the newts on site, thus reducing animal stress. We would especially like to thank Benoît Castanier, Jean-Philippe Rabatel and Charles Granat for their valuable assistance. We are also grateful to the Rhône-Alpes region for providing funding for the marking equipment. We would like to warmly thank the numerous students who helped us with the fieldwork, as well as Adeline Dumet and Vanessa Gardette for their assistance.

Author contribution statement

HC performed modeling and has written the first draft of the manuscript. OG has been in charge of the technical support of the monitoring. PJ has initiated and supervised the monitoring and its exploitation.

Supplementary material

442_2018_4267_MOESM1_ESM.docx (348 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 348 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IBIS, Department of BiologyUniversity LavalQuebec CityCanada
  2. 2.UMR 5023, LEHNA, Université de Lyon, Université Lyon1-CNRS-ENTPEVilleurbanneFrance

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