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The Sharp-ribbed Newt, Pleurodeles waltl, possesses a unique defense mechanism, giving it its name; it is able to pierce its ribs through the poisonous skin, thus warding off predators with poisonous spines. This highly aquatic salamander is found in Portugal, Spain and northern Morocco and is listed as ‘Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species TM.

Found in scrub, cultivated land, and woodland, Sharp-ribbed Newt populations are in decline. A main cause of population decline is habitat loss and fragmentation as a result of agrochemical pollution, nutrient pollution, drainage pollution, livestock pollution, and development. The species was once present in coastal areas, but has since retreated because of increases in tourism and human population. Introduced fish and crayfish also prey on the eggs and larvae of Sharp-ribbed Newts.

Some populations are within protected areas in Iberia, and the species is listed in Appendix III of the Bern convention. Spanish and Portuguese populations require further monitoring, although legislation in Spain ensures protection of the species, including the implementation of habitat restoration and captive breeding projects.

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