Great Crested Newt
© 2006 Gustavo Grandjean (1 of 36)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Republic of, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
The Great Crested Newt is distributed in the forest and forest steppe zones. Isolated populations live in "insular" forests within the European steppes. Triturus cristatus is a typical forest amphibian. It lives in coniferous, mixed and deciduous forests, their glades and edges, in bushlands, meadows, parks and gardens. In southern areas, populations of this newt live in insular forests and in the landscapes of dense vegetation of flooded valleys. Reproduction occurs in stagnant and, rarely, in semi-flowing waters such as ponds, flooded quarries, lakes, irrigation channels and ditches. Such water bodies may be large (several thousand square meters and several meters in depth) or small (5-10 m2 and about 0.5 m in depth). The use of small ponds appears to be more typical in the southern part of its range.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Hibernation usually starts in October to November and finishes in February to May (depending on latitude and altitude), when the newts enter the breeding ponds. Adult newts stay in water a long time (sometimes several months) after reproduction. Courtship in this species, as in other members of Triturus cristatus superspecies, is somewhat different from that of the group of "small-bodied" newts (such as T. vulgaris, T. helveticus, etc.), and resembles that in T. vittatus. As in other species of Triturus, the female of the Great Crested Newt tucks each egg or a few eggs into a leaf during oviposition. Clutch consists of 70-600 (usually 150-200) eggs, which are deposited singly or in chains of 2-3 eggs.
Embryogenesis takes 12-20 days. About half of the eggs fail to hatch due to inherent fault at their development. Just after hatching, the larvae live on the bottom, on aquatic plants, or other substrates. Afterwards, they switch to a mainly pelagic life after developing high fin folds, caudal filaments and long toes and fingers. These structures are reduced at metamorphosis and the larvae become benthic. The larval development is longer than many other newts, about 2.5-3 months or more. Metamorphosis occurs in late summer and autumn. Many larvae hibernate and complete their transformation in the next year.
After the exhaustion of embryonic yolk, the larvae primarily eat microcrustaceans: Daphniidae, Chydoridae, Copepoda and small amounts of insects. Afterwards, they prey mainly on plankton as they take up a pelagic life. Large planktonic Daphnia are selected much more than small Diaptomidae. Selectivity toward small crawling invertebrates, e.g. Chydoridae, decreases correspondingly with ontogeny. Terrestrial adults primarily eat earthworms, slugs, insects and their larvae. During the aquatic phase, they consume Mollusca, particularly small Bivalvia, microcrustaceans and insects. Adult newts sometimes display cannibalism and often consume other amphibians, especially at larval and juvenile stages of development. Frequent consumption of vertebrate prey is typical for crested newts, the largest of the aquatic salamanders in Europe. It is even supposed that this predation may cause decline of breeding groups of the Smooth Newt (T. vulgaris) in Moldavia.
Trends and Threats
Relation to Humans
Bannikov, A. G., Darevsky, I. S. and Rustamov, A. K. (1971). Zemnovodnye i Presmykayushchienya SSSR [Amphibians and Reptiles of the USSR]. Izdatelistvo Misl, Moscow.
Bannikov, A. G., Darevsky, I. S., Ishchenko, V. G., Rustamov, A. K., and Szczerbak, N. N. (1977). Opredelitel Zemnovodnykh i Presmykayushchikhsya Fauny SSSR [Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the USSR Fauna]. Prosveshchenie, Moscow.
Edgar P.W., Griffiths, R.A., and Foster, J.P. (2004). ''Evaluation of translocation as a tool for mitigating development threats to great crested newts in England.'' Biological Conservation, 122, 45-52.
Gasc, J. P. , Cabela, A., Crnobrnja-Isailovic, J., Dolmen, D., Grossenbacher,K., Haffner, P., Lescure, J., Martens, H., Martinez Rica, J. P.,Maurin, H., Oliveira, M. E., Sofianidou, T. S., Vaith, M., and Zuiderwijk, A. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica and Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.
Griffiths, R.A. (1996). Newts and Salamanders of Europe. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.
Kuzmin, S. L. (1995). Die Amphibien Russlands und angrenzender Gebiete. Westarp Wissenschaften, Magdeburg.
Kuzmin, S. L. (1999). The Amphibians of the Former Soviet Union. Pensoft, Sofia-Moscow.
Nikolsky, A. M (1936). Fauna of Russia and Adjacent Countries: Amphibians (English translation of Nikolsky, 1918, Faune de la Russie et des Pays limitrophes. Amphibiens. Académie Russe des Sciences, Petrograd, USSR). Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem.
Nikolsky, A. M. (1906). Herpetologia Rossica. Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, Série 8, Phys.-Math, Vol. 17, Sofia, Moscow.
Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.
Szczerbak, N. N. and Szczerban, M. I. (1980). Zemnovodnye i Presmykayushchiesya Ukrainskikh Karpat [Amphibians and Reptiles of Ukrainian Carpathians]. Naukova Dumka, Kiev.
Terent'ev, P. V. and Chernov, S. A (1965). Key to Amphibians and Reptiles [of the USSR]. Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem.
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 Peera Chantasirivisal (2006-04-05)
Feedback or comments about this page.
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.