Taliang Knobby Newt
|Taxonomic Notes: Fei, Ye & Jiang 2012 Colored atlas of Chinese amphibians place this species in a new monotypic genus Liangshantriton, which was not diagnosed.|
© 2008 Henk Wallays (1 of 13)
Author: Axel Hernandez
Tylototriton taliangensis LIU 1950
Diagnosis and taxonomyThe holotype (FMNH 49388) is an adult male collected at Pusakang, Fulinhsien, Sichuan Province, China, at 2,651 m a.s.l., in 1942 and deposited in the Chicago Natural History Museum. One more specimen was collected during the same summer in 1942 at Lolokou (Jiafanggou), Chaochiaohsien, Zhaojue County (LIU 1942). This species is the sister taxon of T. pseudoverrucosus based on the latest phylogeny and differs from its congener by having very indistinct and squarish coastal glandular warts and a uniformly black body with a long black tail. In males, total length can reach a maximum of 22 cm (max. snout-vent length 98.5 mm) and females measure up to 23 cm TL (max. 11.1 cm SVL). Otherwise the body is moderately stout, the cephalic ridge prominent, the head depressed and longer than broad, the muzzle square, a vertebral bone ridge is present, the dorsolateral glandular warts are indistinct, the tail is thin and longer than the SVL, the skin very rough, there are two orange-red to scarlet spots at the rear end of the cephalic edge and on each parotoid, and the cloacal region and lower edge of the tail are colored likewise, as are the distal halves of the fingers and toes (LIU 1950). The tail is longer in the male than in the female, and he also has longer forelimbs and a slimmer appearance. The cloaca of a female has a pointed conical shape, whereas it is half cone-shaped in a male. Males have nuptial pads and an oval, orange spot on the inner side of the forelimb male that will become more prominent during the breeding season (KABISCH et al. 1994, FLECK 1997). Some specimens are completely black without orange or red parotoids (MIAN HOU pers. comm. 2015).
DistributionT. taliangensis is native to southern Sichuan Province in the central portion of China. It is known only from eight counties and localities: Zhaojue, Mianning, Meigu, Shimian (Liziping), Hanyuan, Liangsha Yizu, E'bianand Mabian and Daguan (LIU 1950, LI et al. 2011, FEI et al. 2012, RAFFAËLLI 2013, SPARREBOOM 2014).
Habitat, ethology and ecologyThe Daliang Mountain crocodile newt is locally abundant in the vegetation covering moist limestone areas at elevations between 1,200 and 3,500 (mainly between 2,000 and 3,000) meters in undisturbed settings (LI et al. 2011). I found approximately 100 to 150 individuals per pond when I prospected three southern localities during the breeding period in 2014. Breeding ponds are usually large (appr. 10 m²), between 50 cm and 1.5 m deep, and situated in open grassland with stands of small bamboo of 20 - 30 cm and other small shrubs. The newts seek refuge in burrows in winter when snow begins to fall during September. The pH of the water bodies varies between 5.5 and 6.4 in the southern areas. Air temperatures range from 10.0 °C in winter to 21.0 °C in summer at 3,361 m a.s.l. Tylototriton taliangensis spend the daylight hours hidden under rocks, in holes, and in the cover of bushes and will come out at night to predate on insects and other small animals (FEI et al. 2012). KABISCH et al. (1994) observed these newts at two ponds on a plateau 120 km south of the type locality at 3,050 m a.s.l. where they emerged at temperatures of 14 - 15.0 °C. According to KÜHNEL (1993) and KABISCH et al. (1994), the natural habitats observed were lentic bodies of water fed by a slow stream of 50 m in length, 2 m in width, and 50 cm in depth with submerged vegetation of Potamogeton spp., and bamboo 20 - 30 cm tall was scattered around its runoff. The water temperature was 15.2 °C with a pH of 6.6 in June of 1992. Air temperature was 12.0 °C with a relative humidity of 82% (SCHULTSCHIK & GROSSE 2013).
ReproductionThe breeding season lasts from June through August (XIE 1999). These newts enter their breeding ponds when temperatures reach approximately 13.0 to 15.0 °C (pers. obs.). Their courtship behavior was observed in captivity as the male first fanning water towards the female with his tail. He will then move under the female and grasp her forelimbs with his from behind and swim around with the female on his back. It is during this amplexus that the male will deposit several spermatophores on the bottom. While continuing to amplect the female, the male will move his body sideways above a spermatophore so that her posterior body will sink and hopefully hit it with her cloaca for picking it up (FLECK 1997, KÜHNEL et al. 1999). YE et al. (1993) observed one amplectant pair on land. Eggs are deposited one by one on plants in the water. They measure 2 - 2.2 mm in diameter and count about 250 - 280 per clutch (FEI & YE 2001). The larvae have a broad head, rounded snout, and long gill tufts. They are brown, mottled with dark. Larval development takes one year during which the larvae grow to 59 - 72 mm (KÜHNEL et al. 1999).
Status, threats and conservationHuman activities are the greatest threat to this species in the Daliang Mountains where many subtropical rainforests have been lost since the 1960’. During my field survey in 2015, farmers told me of a pond some 70 km from the nearest habitat of T. pseudoverrucosus that had been destroyed in the wake of the construction of a dam. Traditional Chinese medicine exploits T. taliangensis as a substitute for Batrachuperus pinchonii, and this species is also collected (illegally) for the international pet trade. It is classified as “Near Threatened” after IUCN criteria and has a special Category-II protection in Sichuan Province.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2019. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 6 Dec 2019.
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