Anatolian newt (Neurergus strauchii)

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Anatolian newt fact file

Anatolian newt description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAmphibia
OrderCaudata
FamilySalamandridae
GenusNeurergus (1)

The large-bodied Anatolian newt (Neurergus strauchii) is a striking amphibian. The back and sides of this species are black and covered with small, irregularly dispersed yellow spots. The underside is almost totally black (2), except for a thin orange line (3).

During the breeding season, the sides of the male Anatolian newt’s tail turn a silver-blue colour, a trait which is unique to this species within the Neurergus genus (2). This breeding pattern is highly reflective, and is easier to see in dim light (4).

The male Anatolian newt has a relatively shorter tail than the female, and the tails of juveniles are also relatively shorter than those of adults (3).

Size
Length: up to 18 cm (2)
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Anatolian newt biology

The Anatolian newt is primarily nocturnal, but is also known to be active during the day (6). All members of the Salamandridae family have skin which produces toxic secretions (7).

The breeding season of the Anatolian newt starts at the end of April or the beginning of May (3). Breeding begins with the male either swimming or walking behind the female or approaching from above, before placing itself in front of the female. The male Anatolian newt then performs a mating display which involves a movement known as tail-fanning, during which the female remains motionless.  Bouts of tail-fanning, which usually last about three seconds each, are alternated with motionless pauses in which the male holds its tail in a bent position (2).

Following the courtship display, the male Anatolian newt will turn away and walk ahead of the female, keeping its tail slightly raised, with the female following if it is responsive. While making agitated, snake-like movements, the male deposits a spermatophore in front of the female. The male then moves away to allow the female to move over the spermatophore, sticking it to the cloaca (2).

An intruding male can sometimes disrupt a mating pair and take over courtship by placing itself between the displaying male and the female. Similarly, a second female can move in behind the creeping male and begin following it, pushing the first female away (2).

The female Anatolian newt deposits the eggs under stones or in hollows and crevices, either individually or in small clusters (2). Each clutch usually contains between 10 and 20 eggs (1) (5), although larger clutches have been reported (6). The Anatolian newt lays relatively large eggs, and does not provide any parental care such as egg guarding (7).

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Anatolian newt range

The Anatolian newt is endemic to Turkey, and is only known from three areas of Eastern Anatolia (1) (5). It can be found at elevations between 1,000 and 2,000 metres above sea level (1).

There are two recognised subspecies of Anatolian newt: Neurergus strauchii strauchi and Neurergus strauchii barani (3). N. s. strauchi is found in the streams surrounding the southern and western parts of Lake Van, while N. s. barani is restricted to Kubbe Mountain (1) (5).

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Anatolian newt habitat

Small, cool mountain streams, with wooded or non-wooded borders, are the preferred habitat of the Anatolian newt (1) (5). It breeds in fast-running streams, usually no more than two metres wide, with rock pools and rocky and sandy bottoms. On land, the Anatolian newt occurs in rocky areas with herbaceous vegetation (6).

During the winter months, this species will remain on land, either under stones or within burrows (1) (5).
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Anatolian newt status

The Anatolian newt is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Anatolian newt threats

The Anatolian newt is found at high elevations where the human population is low, and so it is currently thought to face relatively few threats (1) (5). However, in the eastern part of its range, this species may be threatened by the pollution of streams and rivers from domestic detergents and sewage (1) (5).

A further potential threat to the Anatolian newt is the disturbance of areas of key habitat (3). The planned construction of a dam on the river catchments in the Kubbe Dagi region, where the western subspecies is found, could threaten the Anatolian newt (1) (5), as could road enlargements in prime breeding habitat (3).

The Anatolian newt has been recorded in the pet trade, but the threat this poses to wild populations is unknown (1) (5). However, illegal collection of wild individuals during the breeding season is known to occur, which could potentially put heavy pressure on some populations, particularly N. s. barani (3).

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Anatolian newt conservation

The Anatolian newt is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention, which means that it should be afforded strict protection (8). However, this species is not known from any protected areas in Turkey (1) (5).

Proposed conservation actions for the Anatolian newt include the development of national legislation in order to mitigate the pollution of streams in eastern Turkey (1) (5).

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Find out more

Learn more about amphibians:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Cloaca
A common cavity into which the reproductive, digestive and urinary systems open in birds, reptiles, amphibians, most fish and some primitive mammals.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Herb
Small, non-woody, seed bearing plant in which all the aerial parts die back at the end of each growing season.
Spermatophore
A capsule or mass of sperm transferred from a male to a female during mating, for example in certain insects, arthropods and cephalopods (octopuses and squids).
Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Sparreboom, M., Steinfartz, S. and Schultschik, G. (2000) Courtship behaviour of Neurergus (Caudata: Salamandridae). Amphibia-Reptilia, 21: 1-11.
  3. Pasmans, F., Bogaerts, S., Woeltjes, T. and Carranza, S. (2006) Biogeography of Neurergus strauchii barani Öz, 1994 and N. s. strauchii (Steindachner, 1887) (Amphibia: Salamandridae) assessed using morphological and molecular data. Amphibia-Reptilia, 27: 281-288.
  4. Wells, K.D. (2007) The Ecology and Behaviour of Amphibians. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  5. Stuart, S.N., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J.S., Cox, N.A., Berridge, R.J., Ramani, P. and Young, B.E. (Eds.) (2008) Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
  6. Bogaerts, S., Pasmans, F. and Woeltjes, T. (2006) Ecology and conservation aspects of Neurergus strauchii (Amphibia: Salamandridae). In: Vences, M., Köhler, J., Ziegler, T. and Böhme, W. (Eds.) Herpetologia Bonnensis II. Proceedings of the 13th Congress of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Bonn, Germany.
  7. EDGE of Existence (November, 2011)
    http://www.edgeofexistence.org/
  8. Council of Europe: Bern Convention (November, 2011)
    http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/Treaties/Html/104.htm
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Image credit

Anatolian newt crawling over tree bark  
Anatolian newt crawling over tree bark

© Dan Lay

Dan Lay
dan_lay@hotmail.com
http://www.dan-lay.com

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