AMPHIBIAWEB
Lissotriton italicus
Italian newt, Italienischer wassermolch, italiniescher teichmolch, tritone italico, italiensk vandsalamander, itaalia tähnikvesilik, tritón italiano, triton italien, italiaanse watersalamander, italianvesilisko, italiensk vattensalamander
Subgenus: Lissotriton
family: Salamandridae
subfamily: Pleurodelinae

© 2003 Franco Andreone (1 of 4)

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.


Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
See IUCN account.
CITES No CITES Listing
Other International Status Listed in appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
National Status None
Regional Status None

   

Description
With a total length of up to 80 mm for the larger females, this species is considered the smallest of the European newts. Glandular ridges alongside the back give the newts a flat-backed appearance. The tail reaches about snout-vent length and develops a smooth low crest and a small filament at the tail tip during the aquatic phase in both sexes. There is no dorsal crest in either sex. The skin is brownish or olive-brown, with large dark brown or black spots in males. During the aquatic phase the flanks show a light, metallic golden spotting. These metallic markings are lost during the terrestrial phase, when the skin gets a velvet-like texture and becomes water-repellant. The tail crest also diminishes during this phase. The belly is a pale yellow and has a dark spotting that can form diffuse bands along the sides of the belly and that can extend onto the darker throat (Noellert and Noellert 1992). There is no dark stripe through the eye, but there is a small yellow patch behind the eye (Griffiths 1996).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Italy

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
The Italian newt is an endemic species of central and southern Italy. It does not occur is Sicily. The species is distributed south-east of an imaginary line connecting Ancona on the northeastern coast (43º38'N-13º30'E) and Genga (43º26'N-12º56'E) in Marche, with Gran Sasso d'Italia in the Abruzzo mountains and from there to Formia on the south-west coast (41º15'N-13º37'E), more precisely the surroundings of Maranola in the Aurunci mountains, in the south of Lazio. This boundary is only an indication of the real distribution. The westernmost locality seems to be a stream near Piobbico in Marche and the nearby localities of Genga and Serra San Quirico, southwest of Ancona. The italian newt inhabits the southeastern slopes of the Apennine mountains in Abruzzo, between altitudes of 260 and 1180m, but ist occurrence in the higher parts of the Abruzzo mountains is very doubtful. The species was not found, for instance, by Müller and his workers in 1971 and 1972. Of the known Abruzzo localities (Gran Sasso d'Italia, La Maiella, Le Mainarde and Maltese), the species was no longer found in Gran Sasso d'Italia and Le Mainarde in recent years. The distribution of T. italicus can be considered broadly vicariant with that of T. vulgaris meridionalis. The species is most common at altitudes below 800m but it also occurs in the mountains at altitudes well over 1000m. The highest elevations from which specimens are recorded are at 1520m at Cugno d'Acero in the Pollino Massif and 1525m, above Lago Remmo, near Lagonegro in the province of Potenza, in Basilicata (Gasc 1997). During the aquatic phase, this warmth-loving species occurs in small, temporary pools of stagnant water. It also occurs in cooler and deeper cisterns or slow moving streams where it lives in the shallower parts of the water to avoid predation (Griffiths 1996). During the terrestrial stage, the newts can be found under rocks and logs (Noellert and Noellert 1992).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The reproductive period starts in January at lower elevations. Courtship and mating takes place in water. The courtship behavior is roughly the same as in T. boscai. Each egg is individually attached to water plants. The eggs are 1.5mm in diameter and have an oval gelatinous envelope. The larvae hatch after an embryonal development of only 2-4 days at a length of 5-7mm. In the relatively warm habitats metamorphosis can be completed after 4-6 weeks. In the colder habitats, like deep cisterns, larval development can take several months. Newly metamorphosed juveniles on average measure 26mm total length. Neoteny also occurs in this species. There is no data on sexual maturity or longevity (Noellert and Noellert 1992). The food consists of planktonic prey and other invertebrates (Griffiths 1996). In the reproductive period, the animals are active during the day as well as the night. Outside this period, activity is restricted to rainy or humid nights. Adults hibernate and aestivate on land. In the southern part of the distribution, hibernation is oftentimes skipped and the newts can stay in the water over several years.

Trends and Threats
Specific data on the species' abundance are not available. In various reports, it is regarded as of quite common occurance at lower altitudes. It is considered the most common newt in southern Italy. In the central Italian Apennines, the italian newt is uncommon or even rare at higher altitudes, whereas in the more southerly Alburni and Calabrian mountain ranges it is common, although not abundant. T. italicus is known as occupying man-made biotopes in farmland, artificial ponds and cisterns. Although in this manner man has certainly influenced its occurrence in a positive way, man has contributed to its decline in many areas in recent years. In Marche, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria, in places where T. italicus was reported as being rather common 10 to 20 years ago, it seems to have become rare due to drainage, industrial use and pollution of the water bodies where it occurred. In the Abruzzo mountains the species has apparantly disappeared from a number of localities in recent times. In the Sila Grande area, in Calabria, the number of breeding sites have decreased drastically since 1975, due to the introduction of Salmo trutta and neglect of irrigation tanks (Gasc 1997).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Drainage of habitat
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Predators (natural or introduced)

References

Gasc, J.-P. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Bonn, Germany.

Griffiths, R.A. (1996). Newts and Salamanders of Europe. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.

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), Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UC Berkeley
First submitted 2000-01-25
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2008-08-06)



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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2016. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed: Jul 26, 2016).

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