With a total length that usually falls between 80 and 100mm, this is the smallest of the Euproctus species. The head is longer than broad, flattened and with a rounded snout. The tail is low and oval in cross section. The tail is longer than the snout-vent length in males, shorter in females. Parotoid glands are clearly distinguishable. The skin is granular in the terrestrial phase, and smooth in the aquatic phase. Color is highly variable. The dorsal side is usually a dark brown, but dark green, golden yellow, bronze, bright green marmorated and silver gray patterns also occur, together with highly variable spot patterns. A yellow to orange middorsal line is usually brighter in juveniles and subadults. A middorsal furrow is usually clearest on the back of the head. There is a clear sexual dimorphism in E. montanus. Males possess spurs on the thighs of the hind legs. The cloaca in males resembles a conical protuberance that projects backward and contains a pseudopenis that probably facilitates the direct transfer of reduced spermatophores into the female cloaca (Brizzi et al 1995). The cloaca in females opens ventrally. E. montanus can be distinguished from E. asper by the absence of lungs, the smoother skin and the lack of a skin fold on the throat. It can be distinguished from E. platycephalus by the presence of parotoid glands (Boehme et al 1999).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: France
Euproctus montanus has an endemic distribution. Its range is restricted to Corsica, from Cap Corse in the North to Montagne de Cagna in the South, and from San Guiliano in the East to Golfe de Girolata in the West. Euproctus montanus has an aquatic lifestyle, living exclusively in small rivers, mountain rivers and mountain lakes, provided they are not polluted. The aquatic period of this species is determined by the climate and the water level. Especially calm river sections with a high water level are preferred. Here one can find this species under stones with flat, bright replace-area, but also under stones and rocks which are in the water. For the phase on land, one finds the species along the rivers, which flow through areas covered by macchia or woods. Here the animals may be found under stones or felled trees, but mainly in the root zone of trees and bushes. There are four areas in Corsica which seem to be avoided by the mountain newt: (1) The lowlands of the east-coast and the eastern highlands from Bastia to the river Solenzara; (2) The southern area of the Montagne de Cagna ; (3) With some exceptions the west-coast; (4) The north-coast with one exception - Cap Corse Peninsula. The species occurs from sea level up to 2260m in the Corsican Mountains. The species is very common between 600-1500 m (Gasc 1997).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The reproductive period is dependent on the altitude. At lower elevations, the species reproduces in two periods; from March to June and from September to October. These reproductive periods get closer together with increasing altitude until they form one period in July-August at the highest elevations. Observations in captivity show that mating takes place at water temperatures between 10 and 15ºC. Mating usually takes place on land, but matings on moist substrate and on the border between water and land have also been observed in captivity. The courtship is of type I as defined by Duellman and Trueb (1986) The male holds the tail of the female with his jaws and wraps his tail around her body near the cloaca. The male holds his cloaca close to that of the female and uses his hind legs to guide the spermatophores (up to two per mating) into the female's cloaca. Mating can last up to 4 hours. Eggs are usually attached underneath rocks, and are subsequently guarded by the female. Females lay 20-35 eggs per breeding season, with a maximum of 60 (Noellert and Noellert 1992). Observations of eggs laid in the splash zone suggest that E. montanus may be evolving a direct terrestrial development, as known from many Plethodontids. This theory is supported by the observations of terrestrial matings, as well as the large yolk-rich eggs and the long embryonal development. The eggs measure 2.6 to 4.1 mm in diameter, not including the gelatinous envelope. Embryonal development was recorded in captivity to take 40-50 days at a water temperature of 15ºC. The larvae have an average length of 133 mm at hatching. Larval development takes between 244 and 280 days at 15ºC. At metamorphosis the larvae are between 46.2 and 55.5mm (Boehme et al 1999). After mating season, adults enter the terrestrial stage. Terrestrial individuals are primarily found between the roots of chestnut trees, and under logs. E. montanus has been kept in captivity for seven years.
Trends and Threats
Euproctus montanus is not endangered at present, although water pollution, trout, parasites and road construction could be threats. E. montanus is protected by law in France/Corsica (Gasc 1997). There are some factors however that may threaten E. montanus. These include water pollution, habitat destruction, fires and the introduction of salmonid fishes. A species-rich parasite fauna has also been associated with E. montanus (Boehme et al 1999).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Predators (natural or introduced)
Boehme, W., Grossenbacher, K., and Thiesmeier, B. (1999). Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas, band 4/I:Schwanzlurche (Urodela). Aula-Verlag, Wiesbaden.
Brizzi, R., Calloni, C., Delfino, G., and Tanteri, G. (1995). ''Notes on the male cloacal anatomy and reproductive biology of Euproctus montanus (Amphibia: Salamandridae).'' Herpetologica, 51(1), 8-18.
Duellman, W. E., and Trueb, L. (1986). Biology of Amphibians. McGraw-Hill, New York.
Gasc, J.-P. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Bonn, Germany.
Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.
Stumpel-Rieks, S. E. (1992). Nomina Herpetofaunae Europaeae. AULA-Verlag, Wiesbaden.
Written by Arie van der Meijden (amphibia AT arievandermeijden.nl), Research associate, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UC Berkeley
First submitted 1999-10-06
Edited by David B. Wake (Jan., 2000) (2002-05-25)
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