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Open AccessArticle

Preliminary Analysis of the Diet of Triturus carnifex and Pollution in Mountain Karst Ponds in Central Apennines

1
Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, Environmental Sciences Sect., University of L’Aquila, Via Vetoio, Coppito, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
2
Department of Physical and Chemical Sciences (DSFC), University of L’Aquila, Via Vetoio, Coppito, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010044
Received: 29 October 2019 / Revised: 13 December 2019 / Accepted: 18 December 2019 / Published: 20 December 2019
Mountain karst ponds are sensitive environments, hosting complex trophic networks where amphibians play a major role, often as top predators. The diet of the Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex) is still poorly known for populations occupying mountain karst ponds. These are traditionally used as livestock’s watering points, leading to water pollution due to excreta and wading behavior. The aim of this paper is to understand the relationship between T. carnifex diet composition, assessed through the stomach flushing technique, and physical and chemical characteristics in mountain ponds, focusing on parameters altered by livestock pressure, such as ammonium concentration and dissolved oxygen. The high diversity of prey items found within the newts’ gut contents confirms the generalist diet even in mountain ponds. The number of prey taxa, their relative abundance and Shannon–Wiener diversity index show variations among the sampled sites, related to livestock organic pollution. Moreover, we report the very first European records of microplastic items in amphibians’ stomach content, which also represent the first evidence for Caudata worldwide. Our findings suggest that livestock pressure directly influences T. carnifex diet and highlight that the emerging issue of plastics is a threat even in remote high-altitude environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: diet; Triturus carnifex; mountain karst ponds; pollution; microplastics diet; Triturus carnifex; mountain karst ponds; pollution; microplastics
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Iannella, M.; Console, G.; D’Alessandro, P.; Cerasoli, F.; Mantoni, C.; Ruggieri, F.; Di Donato, F.; Biondi, M. Preliminary Analysis of the Diet of Triturus carnifex and Pollution in Mountain Karst Ponds in Central Apennines. Water 2020, 12, 44.

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