AmphibiaWeb - Lissotriton vulgaris


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Lissotriton vulgaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
Smooth Newt
Subgenus: Lissotriton
family: Salamandridae
subfamily: Pleurodelinae
genus: Lissotriton
Lissotriton vulgaris
© 2005 Henk Wallays (1 of 129)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status T. vulgaris lantzi: Red Data Books of Azerbaijan and Russia.
Regional Status Bern Convention (Annex 3). In general, the Smooth Newt is not a threatened species, except for Georgia and Azerbaijan, where it is Indeterminate and Vulnerable, respectively. The conservation status of narrow-ranged subspecies, as well as populations that include neotenic individuals, is Indeterminate. These populations deserve special concern and protection.
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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A small newt. Vomerine tooth series in parallel lines, slightly convergent in their hind parts. Tail equal, slightly shorter, or slightly longer than body with head. Skin smooth or slightly granular. Head with dark longitudinal stripes, one of which passes along the eye and is always visible. Dorsal and lateral surfaces brownish, gray-brownish, yellow-brownish or olive-gray. Belly light-yellow to orange with dark points or spots. In contrast to the female, the male has a notched mid-dorsal crest and wide webs on hind legs that are well developed during the breeding season. At that time, light-bluish longitudinal bands appear on the lateral surfaces of the male's tail and sometimes on the body, and the cloaca becomes more swollen. In addition, the male's back and belly are covered with large dark spots that are reduced or absent on the female's back and flanks (and small on her belly). These spots are also present after the breeding season. The background coloration of the back is often darker in males than in females.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of, Moldova, Republic of, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom. Introduced: Australia.

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View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (869 records).
The species inhabits all of Europe, except for the southwest (Portugal and Spain, southern France and Italy), northern Scandinavia and northeastern Europe, namely steppe regions between the river systems in Russia and Ukraine. The nominative subspecies is the most widespread. From west to east, the range margin extends from Scandinavia to the Karelia Republic in Russia (Kalevala District), then southeast to the Arkhangelsk Province (Kargopol and Plesetsk districts) - Komi Republic - Perm and Tyumen provinces (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous County - Yuganskii Nature Reserve) - Tomsk Province (environs of Tomsk City: 56o29'N, 84o57'E) - Kemerovo Province - Krasnoyarsk Region (Sayano-Shushenskii Nature Reserve: 52o10'N, 92oE, the eastern-most locality). The southern margin of the range in Eastern Europe generally coincides with dry steppes, then extends through the Urals to Chelyabinsk, Kurgan and Novosibirsk provinces and the Altai Region (area of Barnaul City: ca. 53o21'N, 83o46'E) of Russia, then to the Kemerovo Province and Krasnoyarsk Region (see above). T. vulgaris vulgaris is dispersed eastwards in Siberia. Triturus vulgaris ampelensis lives in the northern part of the Romanian Plateau, T. vulgaris lantzi in the Caucasus near Black Sea, T. vulgaris graecus in Greece, Macedonia, and the Ionian Islands, T. vulgaris meridionalis south of the Alps, in Switzerland and in northern half of Italy, Slovenia and Herzegovina, two subspecies live in Western Turkey.

The Smooth Newt is associated with wood habitats. The presence of forests is the critical factor for the existence of T. vulgaris lantzi in the Caucasus. The nominative subspecies is one of the most eurytopic amphibians over a large territories. It often occurs also in meadows and bushlands on the place of former forests, as well as in various anthropogenic landscapes, such as parks, gardens, fields etc. It penetrates into the steppe zone by inhabiting wooded river valleys.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The Smooth Newt is one of the most common amphibians in the forest zone of the temperate belt, in particular the European part of the former USSR where it yields only to frogs of the genus Rana. The abundance, however, decreases northwards and southwards, in high latitudes as well as in the dry steppe zone, where the species forms small isolated populations though their local density in the reproductive period may be high. Spawning, as well as embryonic and larval development, usually occurs in small ponds, lakes, puddles and ditches with stagnant or semi-flowing water. The population density is especially high at this time.

The Smooth Newt spends most of the time on land. It returns to water bodies for reproduction in spring or autumn, depending on the geography and the subspecies. Adult newts are active primarily in darkness, both in water and on land. In the daytime, terrestrial adults are active during and just after rains. In the aquatic phase, adults and larvae are active both day and early night. During metamorphosis, larval activity shifts to the twilight. The newts usually overwinter on land in rotten trees and burrows, generally in groups. The hibernation period is longer in the north and northeast of the distribution, and the hibernation may be entirely absent in the south.

Reproduction starts soon after hibernation in the aquatic environment. Spawning is preceded by courtship, is highly species-specific and, in respect to some behavioral elements, even subspecies-specific. The clutch consists of about 60-300 eggs, which are deposited singly or in small groups, and the eggs are wrapped in leafs of aquatic plants by the female. Metamorphosis is completed usually in the same year, a few months after egg deposition. However, in many cases larvae overwinter. Cases of neoteny, i.e. reproduction at larval stages, are also known. The age of postmetamorphic adults was estimated as 3-14 years. Just after hatching, larvae live on their endogenous yolk, then switch to eating microcrustaceans: Chydoridae, Daphniidae, Copepoda and Ostracoda. During subsequent development, the food spectrum widens to include larger prey, primarily aquatic molluscs (Bivalvia, Gastropoda) and insects (larval Ephemeroptera and Chironomidae, larval and imago Coleoptera). In general, dwellers of aquatic vegetation are predominant, plankton and benthos are rarely eaten. Feeding probably ceases for a short period during transition to land, a time period shorter than one developmental stage. Newly metamorphosed juveniles forage exclusively on land. The adult food spectrum is wider than that of the juveniles and includes Lumbricidae, Gastropoda, Acarina, Aranei, Collembola, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera and Diptera. In the aquatic phase, adults prey on invertebrates of the same orders as large-sized larvae. Main predators of larvae seem to be insects, while many vertebrates eat juveniles and adults. Cannibalism, mainly in the form of oophagy at the nesting sites, is well-known. The oophagy is more typical for females, because they spend more time in the sites of egg deposition.

Trends and Threats
On large areas, T. vulgaris is not a threatened species. However, some populations are declining or extinct due to anthropogenic causes, especially urban conditions.

Relation to Humans
Although the nominative subspecies of the Smooth Newt often lives in landscapes altered by humans, including large cities, its ability for synanthropization is moderate. As a rule, population sizes are lower in cities and suburbs. In addition, under increased pressure of anthropogenic pollution of the environment and recreation, the occurrence of newt developmental anomalies and diseases increases. However, some types of human activity, such as creation of rides in forests and irrigation, promote population increase and dispersal.

This species was featured in News of the Week September 9, 2015:

Of the three orders of amphibians, Australia only has one native order, frogs (Anura). However, that changed when Tingley et al. (2015) recently reported on the successful establishment of the European newt, Lissotriton vulgaris in southeastern Australia. The introduction of L. vulgaris is believed to have occurred from escaped or illegally released pets before the species was listed as a "controlled pest animal" and its import subsequently prohibited. The potential ecological implications of this invasion are great as the European newt competes with native frogs and has the potential of producing a neurotoxin that to native predators have no evolutionary history with. Lastly, because the climate in southeastern Australia is similar to the native range of the species, L. vulgaris has the potential to spread across much of southern Australia and Tasmania. (Written by Ann Chang)


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Originally submitted by: Sergius L. Kuzmin (first posted 1999-10-06)
Edited by: Sean Schoville (1/18/00) (2021-11-05)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Lissotriton vulgaris: Smooth Newt <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 16, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 16 Jul 2024.

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