Red-bellied Newt, Redbelly Newt
Dr. Robert T. and Margaret Orr
© 1999 California Academy of Sciences (1 of 59)
Taricha rivularis may be distinguished from close relatives (T. granulosa and T. torosa) by relatively prominent eyes, brown iris, and bright red ventral coloration (Stebbins 1951; Petranka 1998).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: California
In 2014, several individuals were discovered in Santa Clara County, significantly south (ca. 130 km) from its previously known range (Reilly et al 2014). These adults were seen with egg masses so recruitment is likely. Reilly et al (2014) tried to determine the origin of this disjunct population by comparing a few molecular markers with populations from the north of San Francisco Bay. However due to the extremely low genetic diversity across its range it was inconclusive whether the population in Santa Clara County represents a previously unknown but natural range extension or an introduced population.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Diet is likely composed of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates although this has been poorly studied (Petranka 1998). When attacked, T. rivularis assumes the characteristic "unken reflex" of all species of Taricha: the tail and head are raised to expose the bright red belly as a warning to predators (Brodie 1977). All Taricha produce the neurotoxin known as tetrodotoxin, which is toxic to their predators and humans (Brodie et al. 1974; Petranka 1998).
Trends and Threats
Based on low genetic diversity, limited geographic range and potential habitat, and high potential for habitat disturbance, Reilly et al (2014) recommends conservation protection for this species.
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
Loss of genetic diversity from small population phenomena
See another account at californiaherps.com.
Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1977). "Salamander antipredator postures." Copeia, 1977, 523-535.
Brodie, E. D., Jr., Hensel, J. L., and Johnson, J. A. (1974). ''Toxicity of the urodele amphibians Taricha, Notophthalmus, Cynops, and Paramesotriton (Family Salamandridae).'' Copeia, 1974(2), 506-511.
Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
Reilly, S.B., Portik, D.M., Koo, M.S., and Wake, D.B. (2014). ''Discovery of a New, Disjunct Population of a Narrowly Distributed Salamander (Taricha rivularis) in California Presents Conservation Challenges.'' Journal of Herpetology, 48(3), 371-379 .
Stebbins, R. C. (1972). Amphibians and Reptiles of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London.
Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
Stebbins, R.C. (1951). Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
Twitty, V. C. (1964). ''Taricha rivularis (Twitty). Red-bellied Newt.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 9.1-9.2.
Written by Rachel L. Mueller and Meredith J. Mahoney, updated Michelle Koo (rachel AT socrates.berkeley.edu, molge AT yahoo.com), Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley
First submitted 1999-02-22
Edited by M. J. Mahoney, Kevin Gin, Michelle Koo (2018-02-23)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2018 Taricha rivularis: Red-bellied Newt <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/4289> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jan 19, 2019.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2019. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 19 Jan 2019.
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