Contributions to Zoology, 68 (3) ..-.. (1999)J. W. Arntzen; Graham P. Wallis: Geographic variation and taxonomy of crested newts (Triturus cristatus superspecies): morphological and mitochondrial DNA data

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Plates I, II. Ventral surface of five taxa of crested newts in the Triturus cristatus superspecies.


Plate I: b, c, e, T. dobrogicus; a, d, f, T. cristatus; j, T. carnifex carnifex; k, T. carnifex macedonicus; g - i, T. karelinii. Geographical origin of the individuals is: T. dobrogicus from Tadten, Austria; T. cristatus from Mayenne, France; j, Farma, Italy; k, Vis’egrad, Bosnia-Hercegovina; g, Djurinci, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; h, Istanbul, Turkey, and i, Karacabey, Turkey.


Plate II: l, o, p, Triturus carnifex carnifex; n, q-w, T. carnifex macedonicus, and m, T. karelinii. Geographical origin of the individuals is: l and p, Benevento, Italy; o, Farma, Italy; n, t, v, w, Divcibare, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; q, r, Tavna Monastire, Bosnia-Hercegovina; s, Karan, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; u, Vis’egrad, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and m, Istanbul, Turkey. For geographical coordinates see Table 2. Note that males (a, e, g, h, j, n - r, u, v) and females (the others) can be distinguished by shape, colour and size of the cloaca, by the colour of the underside of the tail and by digit and limb length and body shape. In males the cloaca is large, black and two-lobed and in the female it is small, yellow and flattened. In males the ventral side of the tail is yellow only directly behind the cloaca or it is entirely black; in females the tail underside is yellow along most or all of its lenght. Digits and limbs are longer and inter-limb distance is shorter in males than in females. Note that some toes are not original size (such as one of the inner toes in newt ‘a’) but regenerating from marking by toe-clipping. Photography by L. van der Laan.

Description of phenotypes

Triturus dobrogicus. Lean build, short legs, narrow tail base, heavily white-stippled sides, black throat with large angular white spots, ventral surface deep orange with many sharp, roundish black spots. Notes : Ventral spots tend to line-up and fuse as in (b). Throat spots are larger in males than in females. A possible function of the conspicuous throat coloration is shown by Plate III.

Triturus cristatus. Lean-medium build, medium sized legs, narrow tail base, heavily white-stippled sides, throat a muddied mix of black and yellow with fine white stippling, ventral surface yellow-orange with irregular black spots. Notes : The black spots grow and the spot pattern becomes denser with age (Arntzen & Teunis, 1993) and individual (a) is likely to be younger than the others.

Triturus carnifex carnifex. Medium build, large legs, tail base medium wide, little or no white stippling on sides, throat colour variable with white stipples. Ventral surface yellow with few large, roundish, ill-defined and muddy-gray to black spots. Notes : Males tend to have darker throats with more and larger white stipples than females. The newts ‘l’ and ‘o’ represent opposite sides of the range.

Triturus carnifex macedonicus. Medium to heavy build, large legs, tail base medium wide, sides densely white-stippled, throat a muddied mix of black and yellow with many, medium sized white stipples. Ventral surface yellow to orange-yellow with a dense pattern of small, irregular spots. Notes : The coloration characteristics are particularly variable and individuals may resemble T. dobrogicus (n), T. cristatus (s), T. carnifex carnifex (t) or T. karelinii (v).

Triturus karelinii. Heavy build, large legs, wide tail base, heavily white-stippled sides, ventral surface yellow-orange with many small to medium-sized black spots, extending on to the tail (especially in females) and continuous with throat where spots tend to be angular. Notes: no obvious coloration characters distinguish between T. karelinii possessing different mtDNA haplotypes (KAR and KAR?, see Wallis and Arntzen, 1989).


Plate III. Sexual display by male Triturus dobrogicus. Symptomatic of the species are the bulging black and white throat and high head crest, giving the appearance of increased size. Photo by M. Sparreboom.