"Temporary Ponds: a natural habitat to be protected!"


> Southern marbled newt

Triturus pygmaeus

It has a relatively average body (7.5 to 12.5cm from the snout to the tip of the tail, the females are larger than males), having an elegant bearing and soft skin. The dorsal and lateral colour is bright green or olive green, permeated with a thin network of dark spots. The abdomen is greyish and mottled. During mating season the males develop a well formed and continuous dorsal rim, which extends until the tail and whose colour consists in alternated narrow strips of dark and light colours.


Behaviour and reproduction:

The reproduction season is quite variable, depending on annual weather conditions and on the hydric dynamic in the breeding places. In southwest Portugal it usually happens after the first rains of autumn. If the reproduction places do not hold enough water, the beginning may be delayed up to February or March, when the spring rain begins. Females can lay between 150 and 350 eggs, laying each one individually, duly wrapped underneath a broad leaf from an aquatic plant.


It lives in many various places, such as the Montado and cork oaks, pine and eucalyptus forests, and shrubby pastures. For reproduction it resorts to temporary ponds, cattle drinking pools, deep wells, fountains, reservoirs and small agricultural dams, preferring well preserved water locations with abundant aquatic vegetation. 


It is an Iberian endemism found in the western half of the Iberian Peninsula, except for the east and southeast regions of Spain. In Portugal it completely penetrates into north, along the coast of Portugal until Aveiro. Nevertheless, in the interior regions the northernmost limit only comes near the transversal line of Tagus River.


In the South-western regions of Portugal it is a specie with a relatively fragmented known distribution. It is not known for sure if this was due an inefficient sampling effort or due to the suspicion that their reproduction sites were being threatened by the progress of intensive agriculture, which includes drainage of temporary ponds. Another important threat is the predation by invasive species, such as the red swamp crawfish (Procambarus clarkii) and the pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus).

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