Triturus karelinii (Strauch, 1870)
Southern Crested Newt
© 2017 Henk Wallays (1 of 32)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Islamic Republic of, Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine
The newt lives in mountain forests and their surroundings. These forests are quite variable in tree species composition and include broad-leaved and coniferous species. The newt also occurs in the forest steppe and true steppe sites within the mountains. The majority of such populations are the relic fauna of former forest habitat. Within these landscapes, the newt populations inhabit slopes and plateaus covered with meadows or xerophytic vegetation that contain small, stagnant swamps and ponds. Such habitats are widespread, for example in parts of the species' range in Crimea and Southern Azerbaijan. In general, this species seems to be more resistant to xeric conditions than other Caucasian newts. Reproduction occurs in swamps, ponds and lakes of different sizes. The newts prefer larger and deeper waters than other newts.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Activity is mainly nocturnal. Hibernation usually occurs from September or October to March. In unusually warm winters, the end of hibernation may shift to late January - February. Hibernacula are located on land, but in many cases newts at different stages overwinter in deep stagnant waters. Reproduction occurs in March - May. In the highlands this period shifts to May - July. On the other hand, at low elevations and in warm winters newt reproduction starts earlier, in February. Embryonic development takes about 10-12 days, but larval hatching frequently extends over a long spawning period within a single pond. In Georgia, the peak of hatching occurs from the end of May through June. Microhabitat partitioning occurs within a pond among specimens of different developmental stages. As larvae become older, they switch from a benthic to a pelagic life. Well-developed larvae possess adaptations for a pelagic life typical of crested newts. They are quite vulnerable to seasonal increases of water eutrophication. Metamorphosis occurs in August to October, but in some cases larvae overwinter and complete their development the following year. Sexual maturity is attained at 5-6 years. Maximum longevity has been estimated as 10-15 years.
Just after transition to active feeding, the larvae primarily eat crawling microcrustaceans (Chydoridae and Ostracoda) and small amounts of pelagic and benthic forms, including Copepoda, Daphniidae and larval Chironomidae. The diet widens during larval development. The proportion of molluscs, insects and large planktonic microcrustaceans increases, whereas small crawling microcrustaceans decrease. Planktonic daphniids are a favored food item, which corresponds to the pelagic habits of well-developed newt larvae. Newly metamorphosed specimens on land consume snails, mites, carabids and caterpillars. The food of aquatic adults consists of limnophilous organisms, such as Gastropoda, Ostracoda, Daphniidae, larval Dytiscidae, Chironomidae, Tipulidae, and sometimes Isopoda, Amphipoda, etc. Aquatic adults also eat some terrestrial invertebrates, probably those that have fallen into the water. Terrestrial adults consume worms, slugs, spiders and insects.
Trends and Threats
Relation to Humans
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Originally submitted by: Sergius L. Kuzmin (first posted 1999-10-06)
Edited by: Sean Schoville (1/18/00), JG (fixing maps 07/30/01) (2001-07-30)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2001 Triturus karelinii: Southern Crested Newt <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/4299> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 27, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 27 Mar 2023.
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