German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Animals, plants and fungi

Distribution of the fire salamander in Germany

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Detailed source: DGHT – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Herpetologieund Terrarienkunde (Ed.) (2015): Verbreitungsatlasder Amphibien und Reptilien Deutschlands, aufGrundlage der Daten der Länderfachbehörden, Facharbeitskreiseund NABU Landesfachausschüsse derBundesländersowie des Bundesamtes für Naturschutz.Available at: 14.12.2015).

Germany’s national responsibility: Successful conservation of the fire salamander

The fire salamander has its main distribution range in Germany. Germany consequently has special responsibility for the global conservation of this species. For its habitat, the fire salamander needs deciduous and mixed forest, and spring-fed streams for its larvae. The species is not yet endangered, but suitable waters in particular need to be protected.

One species whose main distribution range is in Germany, and for the conservation of which Germany consequently has international responsibility, is the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra). With its characteristic yellow on black colouring, the fire salamander is probably the most widely known amphibian species in Germany.

The fire salamander lives in deciduous and mixed forest, both in the lowlands and in the uplands and mountains. It is occasionally found in spruce forest. The deciduous forests colonised by the species are frequently ancient and almost all are crossed by spring-fed streams, which fire salamanders visit primarily in spring to deposit their larvae.

Two subspecies in Germany with largely separate distribution ranges

The main range of the fire salamander is a relatively self-contained area of the central uplands. There are also isolated occurrences in the northern German lowland plain, notably Münsterland and Lüneburger Heide. A large gap in the range in southeastern Baden-Württemberg and southwestern Bavaria separates two subspecies. The fire salamanders found west of the distribution gap are of the subspecies Salamandra salamandra terrestris, which is representative of the eastern recolonisation line. Those found east of the gap in Bavaria are of the subspecies Salamandra salamandra salamandra. Along the middle reaches of the Rhine in Rhineland-Palatinate is a broad hybrid zone over a distance of about 140 kilometres.

Habitats of the fire salamander must be protected

Its wide distribution and large populations mean that unlike other amphibian species in Germany, the fire salamander is not classified as endangered anywhere in the country. Despite this, large-scale deforestation and conversion of deciduous and mixed forest into coniferous forest can result in large losses and even the extinction of whole populations. Further threat factors include pollution, restructuring, draining and fish stocking in spring-fed streams. Targeted conservation measures consist of maintaining and restoring waters suitable for larvae.