© 2005 Henk Wallays (1 of 74)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of, Moldova, Republic of, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom. Introduced: Australia.
The Smooth Newt is associated with wood habitats. The presence of forests is the critical factor for the existence of T. vulgaris lantzi in the Caucasus. The nominative subspecies is one of the most eurytopic amphibians over a large territories. It often occurs also in meadows and bushlands on the place of former forests, as well as in various anthropogenic landscapes, such as parks, gardens, fields etc. It penetrates into the steppe zone by inhabiting wooded river valleys.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The Smooth Newt spends most of the time on land. It returns to water bodies for reproduction in spring or autumn, depending on the geography and the subspecies. Adult newts are active primarilyin darkness, both in water and on land. In the daytime, terrestrial adults are active during and just after rains. In the aquatic phase, adults and larvae are active both day and early night. During metamorphosis, larval activity shifts to the twilight. The newts usually overwinter on land in rotten trees and burrows, generally in groups. The hibernation period is longer in the north and northeast of the distribution, and the hibernation may be entirely absent in the south.
Reproduction starts soon after hibernation in the aquatic environment. Spawning is preceded by courtship, is highly species-specific and, in respect to some behavioral elements, even subspecies-specific. The clutch consists of about 60-300 eggs, which are deposited singly or in small groups, and the eggs are wrapped in leafs of aquatic plants by the female. Metamorphosis is completed usually in the same year, a few months after egg deposition. However, in many cases larvae overwinter. Cases of neoteny, i.e. reproductionat larval stages, are also known. The age of postmetamorphic adults was estimated as 3-14 years. Just after hatching, larvae live on their endogenous yolk, then switch to eating microcrustaceans: Chydoridae, Daphniidae, Copepoda and Ostracoda. During subsequent development, the food spectrum widens to include larger prey, primarily aquatic molluscs (Bivalvia, Gastropoda) and insects (larval Ephemeroptera and Chironomidae, larval and imago Coleoptera). In general, dwellers of aquatic vegetation are predominant, plankton and benthos are rarely eaten. Feeding probably ceases for a short period during transition to land, a time period shorter than one developmental stage. Newly metamorphosed juveniles forage exclusively on land. The adult food spectrum is wider than that of the juveniles and includes Lumbricidae, Gastropoda, Acarina, Aranei, Collembola, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera and Diptera. In the aquatic phase, adults prey on invertebrates of the same orders as large-sized larvae. Main predators of larvae seem to be insects, while many vertebrates eat juveniles and adults. Cannibalism, mainly in the form of oophagy at the nesting sites, is well-known. The oophagy is more typical for females, because they spend more time in the sites of egg deposition.
Trends and Threats
Relation to Humans
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Written by Sergius L. Kuzmin (ipe51 AT yahoo.com), Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
First submitted 1999-10-06
Edited by Sean Schoville (1/18/00)
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