AmphibiaWeb - Triturus karelinii


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Triturus karelinii (Strauch, 1870)
Southern Crested Newt
Subgenus: Triturus
family: Salamandridae
subfamily: Pleurodelinae
genus: Triturus
Triturus karelinii
© 2017 Henk Wallays (1 of 32)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status Red Data Books of Azerbaijan and Russia.
Regional Status Bern Convention (Annex 2); Critically Endangered in many sites of the Western Caucasus, Vulnerable in the Eastern Caucasus, declining on the Black Sea coast, Data Deficient in Iran. Red Data Book of Krasnodar Region, Russia.


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Very similar to the Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus), but body longer and more robust (Wolterstorff Index in females 52-75%), head relatively longer and wider, vomerine tooth series considerably curved and divergent posteriorly, throat yellow with black spots and without white points. Similarto some Great Crested Newts, the black spots on the belly merge, and a part of the belly becomes completely black. Male dorsal crest not notched as deeply, frequently no clear gap in the dorsal crest on the tailbase. Females frequently with narrow, yellow middorsal stripe. The value of the Wolterstorff Index seems to be subject to geographic variation.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Islamic Republic of, Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine

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Triturus karelinii inhabits the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula, Crimea, Asia Minor, the Caucasus and northern Iran. From the west to the east, it lives from Serbia to the western coast of the Black Sea, then over its southern coast from the western part of Turkey to Northern Iran (Elburz Mountains). In Crimea, it lives only in the Crimean Mountains in the southern coast of the peninsula. In the system of the Main Caucasian Ridge, the northern margin of the species range runs along the northern macroslope of the Main Caucasian Ridge in Russia from Novorossiik District of the Krasnodar Region to the Southwestern Daghestan.

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
Like other species of newts, T. karelinii forms isolated populations attached to individual ponds and small lakes. Such small populations may consist of several dozen to a few hundred individuals. In general, the abundance is low, though the species occurs even in drier areas than other newt species of the Caucasus. In this region, the abundance gradually decreases south-westwards and north-westwards.

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
Destruction of forests and pollution of water seems to be the most dangerous threat to populations of T. karelinii, a typical forest amphibian very sensitive to water eutrophication. These factors have led to decline and extinction of some populations of this species in Crimea and Caucasus. Similarto the situation of the Great Crested Newt (T. cristatus), the introduction of Crucian Carp affects T. karelinii more adversely than other species of syntopic newts.

Relation to Humans
Anthropogenic influences have negative consequences for the newt populations (see above). However, the species regularly occurs in surroundings of human settlements, though it does not reach high population density there. In the 1990s, cases of illegal trade of this species within Russia and abroad were known.


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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 <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 14, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 14 Jul 2024.

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