Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

A stocky, large-bodied salamander. Dorsal coloration varies from light brown to blackish brown. The venter is light yellow to orangish red. Upper and lower eyelids are dark. The iris is yellow and the eyes are relatively small. This species has a dry, warty skin, except in mating season when adult males develop a smooth, even slimy, skin. The skin of both males and females is lighter colored during the mating season. Adults are 5.6-8.7 cm snout to vent length (12.5-22 cm total length). Some populations have adults which retain gills (Stebbins 1985; Petranka 1998). Hatchlings are 8-12 mm total length (Stebbins 1951; Riemer 1958). Larvae are pond type with busy gills ande a tail fin which extends foward to the shoulder area. Young larvae have a weak dorsal stripe which becomes diffuse a few weeks after hatching. The color pattern of older larvae is a mottled or reticulate pattern of pigmentation, usually with two rows of light spots on the sides of the body. A dark stripe extends from the nostril to the eye. Populations of T. granulosa in and around Crater Lake, Oregon, are sometimes treated as a distinct subspecies (T. g. mazamae) based on the presence of dark blotching on the venter (Nussbaum and Brodie 1981; Stebbins 1985; Petranka 1998).

Taricha granulosa may be distinguished from T. torosa by the V-shaped pattern of the palatine teeth (compared to Y-shaped), dark lower eyelid, and less protruberant eyes. These species also differ in their defensive posture (see below) (Stebbins 1985).

See another account at californiaherps.com.

  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Aubry, K. B., and Hall, P. A. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the southern Washington Cascade Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. Ruggiero, L. F., Aubry, K. B., Carey, A. B., and Huff, M. H., technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 326-338.
  • Corn, P. S. and Bury, R. B. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the Oregon Coast Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 304-317.
  • Stebbins, R.C. (1951). Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1977). "Salamander antipredator postures." Copeia, 1977, 523-535.
  • Brodie, E. D., III, and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1990). ''Tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes: An evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey.'' Evolution, 44, 651-659.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr., Hensel, J. L., and Johnson, J. A. (1974). ''Toxicity of the urodele amphibians Taricha, Notophthalmus, Cynops, and Paramesotriton (Family Salamandridae).'' Copeia, 1974(2), 506-511.
  • Motychak, J. E., E. D. Brodie, Jr., and E. D. Brodie, III (1999). "Evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey: Preadaptation and the evolution of tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes." Evolution, 53, 1528-1535.
  • Nussbaum, R. A., and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1981). ''Taricha granulosa (Skilton). Rough-skinned Newt.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 272.1-272.4.
  • Riemer, W. J. (1958). "Variation and systematic relationships within the salamander genus Taricha." University of California Publications in Zoology, 56(3), 301-390.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs from the Pacific coast of North America from southeastern Alaska to Santa Cruz County, California (Stebbins 1985, Petranka 1998). Records from the Rocky Mountains, including populations in Latah County, Idaho, could represent introductions, though Monello and Wright (1997) recorded three small populations in Latah County in 1997. It can be found at sea level to about 2,800m asl (Stebbins 1985).
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Distribution and Habitat

This species ranges from southwestern Alaska, along the coast of North America through British Columbia, Canada, Washington, Oregon, and California to the San Francisco Bay area. Terrestrial habitat is forests in hilly or mountainous areas, occasionally grasslands or pastures. Aquatic habitat includes seasonally ephemeral ponds, as well as lakes and sluggish areas of streams. Rarely found in fast-flowing water (Riemer 1958; Stebbins 1985; Petranka 1998).

  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Aubry, K. B., and Hall, P. A. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the southern Washington Cascade Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. Ruggiero, L. F., Aubry, K. B., Carey, A. B., and Huff, M. H., technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 326-338.
  • Corn, P. S. and Bury, R. B. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the Oregon Coast Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 304-317.
  • Stebbins, R.C. (1951). Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1977). "Salamander antipredator postures." Copeia, 1977, 523-535.
  • Brodie, E. D., III, and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1990). ''Tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes: An evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey.'' Evolution, 44, 651-659.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr., Hensel, J. L., and Johnson, J. A. (1974). ''Toxicity of the urodele amphibians Taricha, Notophthalmus, Cynops, and Paramesotriton (Family Salamandridae).'' Copeia, 1974(2), 506-511.
  • Motychak, J. E., E. D. Brodie, Jr., and E. D. Brodie, III (1999). "Evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey: Preadaptation and the evolution of tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes." Evolution, 53, 1528-1535.
  • Nussbaum, R. A., and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1981). ''Taricha granulosa (Skilton). Rough-skinned Newt.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 272.1-272.4.
  • Riemer, W. J. (1958). "Variation and systematic relationships within the salamander genus Taricha." University of California Publications in Zoology, 56(3), 301-390.
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Geographic Range

Taricha granulosa is found along the Pacific coast of North America, with a range extending from Santa Cruz County, California, south of San Francisco Bay, into southeastern Alaska north to Juneau. Within this range, it is found at elevations from sea-level to 2743 m, or 9000 ft, and is found on many islands off the coast, including Vancouver Island. In northern California rough-skinned newts are found as far east as Shasta County, extending into northern Butte County. Isolated populations of T. granulosa occur in Latah County, Idaho and Saunders County, Montana. The Idaho population, at least, is probably introduced.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced , Native )

  • Petranka, J. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  • Behler, J., F. King. 1979. National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..
  • Jones, L., W. Leonard, D. Olson. 2005. Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: Seattle Audobon Society.
  • 2007. "Native Amphibians--Introduction" (On-line). Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Accessed December 01, 2007 at http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/statewide/ngplan/files/Amphibians.pdf.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range includes the Pacific coast of North America from southeastern Alaska to Santa Cruz County, California (Petranka 1998, Stebbins 2003). Records from the Rocky Mountains in Idaho and Montana, including populations in Latah County, Idaho, could represent introductions, though Monello and Wright (1997) recorded three small populations in Latah County, Idaho, in 1997. Elevational range extends from sea level to about 9,200 feet (Stebbins 2003).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The eggs of T. granulosa are each separately encased in a gelatinous substance, around 3 to 4 millimeters in diameter. The ova are generally light-brown on top and cream colored on the bottom.

Larvae are aquatic, with a faint dorsal stripe on either side of the body that fades as they mature. Larvae have a dark stripe that extends from the eye to the nostril as well as two rows of spots. One row is near the limb insertions and the other is near the fin. The fin is speckled with dark spots. Larvae measure around 18 mm in total length.

Adults range from about 12.7 to 21.6 cm in total length. They have rough, grainy skin that is dark-colored dorsally and orange to yellow-orange ventrally. Their textured skin has earned them the common name "rough-skinned newts." Their eyes are relatively small and do not extend beyond the edges of the head. The irises are yellow, and the lower eyelids are orange. The vomerine teeth are arranged in a V-shaped pattern. Costal grooves are absent. Males are larger than females, with longer vents. During the breeding season, males and females become temporarily aquatic. Males develop smooth, spongy skin that is lighter-colored than usual. Their vents are strongly pronounced and swollen. The tail crests become more pronounced, as do the nuptial pads on the tips of their toes. The appearance of the females does not change, though their vent becomes cone-shaped.

Some adults living at high elevations retain their gills and are totally aquatic, though they do not exhibit genuine paedomorphosis. Aquatic females can sometimes be confused with breeding males, because they have lighter, smoother skin, tail crests, and larger vents than do terrestrial females. However, these features are less pronounced than in breeding males.

Range length: 12.7 to 21.6 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; poisonous

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes shaped differently

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Size

Length: 22 cm

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It can be found in forests, woodlands, grasslands, open valleys, and ranch land. Found on land (in open or under rocks, logs, etc.) or in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and slow-moving streams. It is the most aquatic western newt. It breeds in ponds, lakes, reservoirs and slow-moving streams. Lays eggs singly on aquatic plants or submerged twigs (Behler and King 1979).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Taricha granulosa inhabits both aquatic and terrestrial environments. Though they generally spend more of their time on land, they must return to the water to breed. Many become temporarily aquatic during the summer months due to dry weather. It is possible for a newt to spend its entire life in an aquatic habitat. In the water, T. granulosa prefers areas of little or no current, such as ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams, and sometimes small ephemeral wet areas such as ditches. Aggregations of adults have been discovered as deep as 12 meters underwater. On land, newts can usually be found under pieces of rotting wood on forested hills or mountains. They occasionally occur in open areas such as fields.

Range elevation: 0 to 2743 m.

Range depth: 0 to 12 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial ; freshwater

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; mountains

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams; temporary pools

Wetlands: marsh

Other Habitat Features: suburban ; agricultural ; riparian

  • Bishop, S. 1943. Handbook of Salamanders: The Salamanders of the United States, Canada, and of Lower California. Ithaca, NY: Comstock Publishing Company, Inc..
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Comments: Rough-skinned newts inhabit various wooded and open valley habitats that include the required aquatic breeding habitat, such as lakes, reservoirs, ponds, and stream pools or backwaters. They generally spend most of their lives on land, but in some areas adults may be aquatic throughout the year or during the dry season. Breeding females attach eggs singly on aquatic plants or submerged twigs.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Migrations between uplands and breeding sites may traverse up to several hundred meters. Migrations often occur during or after seasonal rains. Males migrate earlier than females.

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Larvae eat small aquatic invertebrates. Aquatic adults have been known to eat a variety of organisms, from snails and insects to other amphibians.

Adult terrestrial T. granulosa appear to be opportunistic carnivores, with insects making up a large portion of their diet.

Animal Foods: amphibians; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks; zooplankton

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Molluscivore )

  • Packer, W. 1961. Feeding behavior in adult Taricha . Copeia, 1961/3: 351-352.
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Comments: Larvae probably eat zooplankton and small aquatic invertebrates. Adults feed mostly on small terrestrial or aquatic invertebrates.

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Since T. granulosa is mainly an insect eater, it is important in keeping insect populations in check, possibly including some nuisance insect species, such as mosquitoes (Culicidae). Taricha granulosa is also an important food source for common garter snakes, which are in turn eaten by other animals.

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Predation

Because of the extreme toxicity of rough-skinned newts, they have only one known predator, common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis), which seem to be immune to tetrodotoxin. It has been proposed that these two species are competing against each other in an evolutionary arms race, in which a predator species and a prey species co-evolve, each developing greater defenses against the other. In this case, as the newts evolve greater toxicity, garter snakes evolve greater resistance to the toxicity.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: aposematic

  • Brodie III, E., E. Brodie Jr.. 1990. Tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes: an evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey. Evolution, 44/3: 651-659.
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Population Biology

Global Abundance

100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 100,000.

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General Ecology

After breeding season, adults, as well as subadults and larvae, may form large aggregations. Skin secretion repels many predators.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

It is unclear how T. granulosa individuals communicate with one another, but there is evidence that rough-skinned newts navigate using celestial cues, olfaction, and darkened areas caused by vegetation at the edges of water bodies.

Communication Channels: visual ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; ultraviolet; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: As is true of other land-dwelling amphibians, activity is minimal or absent during freezing weather or extended drought.

In contrast to most salamanders, newts commonly are active in the open on land in daytime. This behavior is associated with high levels of toxins in the bodies of newts in most of their range. The toxins protect the newts from fatal attacks by various kinds of predators. It is safe to handle newts, but do not ingest them or their skin secretions.

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Life Cycle

Development

Taricha granulosa exhibits an aquatic larval stage. Eggs hatch 3 to 4 weeks after being laid, and these newts spend 4 to 5 months as aquatic larvae before metamorphosing into juvenile adults. In some high elevation areas, newts overwinter as larvae and emerge in the spring or summer. They spend a couple of years as juvenile adults before returning to the water to breed. At high elevations, some adults retain their gills and spend their entire life cycle in the water. Adults reach sexual maturity at 4 to 5 years of age.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Little is known about the longevity of T. granulosa, but marked specimens have been recaptured after 17-18 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
18 (high) years.

  • Ridenhour, B., E. Brodie Jr., E. Brodie III. 2007. Patterns of genetic differentiation in Thamnophis and Taricha from the Pacific Northwest. Journal of Biogeography, 34: 724-735.
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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Longevity in captivity is probably underestimated. One animal caught as an adult lived 3.5 years in captivity (http://www.pondturtle.com/). Based on size and growth rates, the average longevity in the wild is estimated to be 12 years (http://amphibiaweb.org/).
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Reproduction

Breeding takes place underwater, and is initiated by the male. He climbs on top of the female, clasps her with his legs, and proceeds to rub the snout of the female with his chin while stroking her legs with his hind legs. This behavior is known as amplexus, and can last anywhere from several hours to two days. The male then releases the female, crawls in front of her, and deposits a spermatophore, which is a gelatinous mass with a small capsule of sperm at the top. The female picks up the sperm capsule with her cloaca (vent). In some instances other males will attempt to separate an amplexed pair.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Reproduction in T. granulosa is totally aquatic, usually occurring in still or slow-moving waters near vegetation. The breeding season is highly variable depending on elevation. At lower elevations, most reproductive activity occurs in the spring, from January to May. At high elevations, most breeding occurs during late summer and early fall. Females lay their eggs soon after mating. The eggs are laid one at a time and are attached by the female to vegetable matter or detritus. They take 3 to 4 weeks to hatch.

Breeding interval: Rough-skinned newts breed annually or biennially, depending on their location.

Breeding season: At high elevations most breeding occurs during late summer, while at lower elevations most breeding occurs during the spring months.

Range time to hatching: 3 to 4 weeks.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 4 to 5 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 to 5 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

There is no parental care exhibited by this species. The female takes care to attach her eggs to vegetation so they will not float away and provides nutrients for development.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female)

  • Petranka, J. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  • Behler, J., F. King. 1979. National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..
  • Jones, L., W. Leonard, D. Olson. 2005. Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: Seattle Audobon Society.
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Timing of migrations and breeding varies greatly, depending on location and conditions. In many lowland areas, newts migrate to breeding sites and deposit eggs in late fall, winter, or spring, and the resulting larvae metamorphose several moinths later in summer or fall. At higher elevations in the mountains, breeding may occur in summer or early fall, with metamorphosis about a year later. Eggs hatch in 20-26 days (Nussbaum et al. 1983) or 5-10 weeks (Behler and King 1979).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Taricha granulosa

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.   Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.  Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

ACTCGATGACTATTCTCTACTAACCACAAAGACATTGGCACCCTGTACTTAATCTTTGGGGCCTGAGCGGGCATGGTCGGCACCGCGCTA---AGCCTGCTGATCCGGGCTGAACTAAGTCAGCCCGGAGCACTTTTAGGCGAT---GACCAAATTTATAATGGAATCGTCCCCGCCCACGCCTTCCTGAAAATCTTCTTTATAGTAATACCAGTTATGATCGGGGGGTTTGGAAACTGACTTTGACCCCTCATA---ATCGGAGCCCCGGAAATGGCCTTCCCCCGAAAAAACAACAAAAACTTTTGACTCCTCCCGCCCTCGTTTCTACTCCTGCTGGCGTCCTCTGGTGTCGAGGCAGGGGCGGGAACCGGGTGAACAGTCTACCCCCCTCTAGCCGGAAACCTCGCCCATGCAGGTGCATCCGTCGATCTG---ACAATTTTTTCCCTCCACCTGGCTGGAGTCTCCTCAATCCTTGGAGCAATTAACTTTATCACAACATCCATCAACATGAAGCCCCCATCGATAACTCAATACCAAACCCCACTATTCGTATGATCAGTCCTCATCACCGCTATTCTTTTACTTCTCTCTCTCCCAGTACTTGCTGCC---GGCATTACTATGCTCCTAACAGATCGAAACCTAAACACCACATTTTTTGACCCCGCTGGCGGGGGAGACCCAGTGCTCTACCAACATCTTTTCTGATTCTTTGGCCACCCAGAGGTGTATATCCTAATTCTACCGGGATTTGGCATAATCTCCCATATCGTGACATACTACTCGGCAAAAAAA---GAACCATTTGGGTACATGGGCATGGTGTGAGCAATAATATCCATTGGATTACTGGGGTTTATTGTGTGGGCCCACCACATATTTACAGTAGACCTAAACGTAGACACACGAGCATACTTTACATCCGCCACAATAATTATTGCAATCCCAACGGGGGTAAAGGTCTTTAGCTGGCTT---GCAACCATGCACGGAGGG---TCAATTAAATGAGACGCAGCAATGCTCTGGGCCCTAGGCTTTATCTTCTTGTTCACTGTTGGCGGACTCACAGGCATTGTACTAGCAAACTCATCATTAGATATTGTCCTACACGACACATATTATGTAGTAGCACACTTTCACTATGTC---TTGTCAATAGGAGCCGTGTTCGCTATCATGGGCGGATTTGTACACTGATTCCCACTCTTTTCAGGATATACACTGCACCCAACCTGGTCTAAAATTCACTTCGGGGTCATATTTATTGGCGTAAACCTCACATTCTTTCCTCAGCACTTCCTGGGACTAGCCGGAATGCCCCGA---CGATACTCAGACTACCCAGACGCGTATACA---CTTTGAAACACAGTCTCGTCAATTGGCTCGCTTATCTCATTAGTTGCCGTTATCATAATAATATTCATTATCTGAGAGGCATTCGCAGCCAAACGAGAAGTA---ATAACAACAGAACTAACATCTACAAAC
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Taricha granulosa

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2004

Assessor/s
Geoffrey Hammerson

Reviewer/s
Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
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Rough-skinned newts are not listed as threatened or endangered, but like many amphibian species may face such a distinction if their habitat is extensively threatened by human development.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Large range in western North America; abundant; secure.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

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Population

Population
It is widespread and common. Total adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 10,000.

Population Trend
Stable
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Rough-skinned newts migrate annually to and from their aquatic breeding sites. Migration occurs primarily in rainy weather when the temperature is >5º. Breeding season varies with latitude, and has been recorded over most months of the year with a peak from March to early May. Courtship includes a period of amplexus of the female by the male. During amplexus, the male rubs his head over the females. Fertilization is internal by means of a spermatophore, deposited by the male on the substrate and picked up by the female in her cloaca. Oviposition takes place shortly after mating. Eggs are layed singly, attached to submerged vegetation, rootlets, or detritus. (Nussbaum and Brodie 1981; Petranka 1998). Development time and length of the larval period vary geographically. Larvae eat small aquatic invertebrates. Prey of adults includes aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, and also amphibian larvae and eggs (Petranka 1998).

While T. granulosa is the most toxic newt in North America, all species of Taricha possess the potent neurotoxin known as tetrodotoxin. This serves the newt as an antipredator defense, and is also harmful to humans (Brodie et al. 1974; Petranka 1998). Despite their toxicity, newts are subject to predation by racoons and garter snakes (Thamnophis.) Thamnophis sirtalis is a specialist predator on newts and has evolved resistance to the tetrodotoxin (Brodie and Brodie 1990; Petranka 1998; Motychak et al. 1999). When harassed, Taricha assume the "unken reflex" where the head is raised, the tail is turned up and held straight over the body, the limbs are extended, and the eyes are closed (Riemer 1958; Brodie 1977). This action exposes the bright aposomatic coloration found on the newt's belly. The exact pattern of this reflex is a species-specific character, distinguishable from sympatric T. torosa, which holds the tail straight, while T. granulosa curls the tip (Stebbins 1985; Petranka 1998).

  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Aubry, K. B., and Hall, P. A. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the southern Washington Cascade Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. Ruggiero, L. F., Aubry, K. B., Carey, A. B., and Huff, M. H., technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 326-338.
  • Corn, P. S. and Bury, R. B. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the Oregon Coast Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 304-317.
  • Stebbins, R.C. (1951). Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1977). "Salamander antipredator postures." Copeia, 1977, 523-535.
  • Brodie, E. D., III, and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1990). ''Tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes: An evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey.'' Evolution, 44, 651-659.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr., Hensel, J. L., and Johnson, J. A. (1974). ''Toxicity of the urodele amphibians Taricha, Notophthalmus, Cynops, and Paramesotriton (Family Salamandridae).'' Copeia, 1974(2), 506-511.
  • Motychak, J. E., E. D. Brodie, Jr., and E. D. Brodie, III (1999). "Evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey: Preadaptation and the evolution of tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes." Evolution, 53, 1528-1535.
  • Nussbaum, R. A., and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1981). ''Taricha granulosa (Skilton). Rough-skinned Newt.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 272.1-272.4.
  • Riemer, W. J. (1958). "Variation and systematic relationships within the salamander genus Taricha." University of California Publications in Zoology, 56(3), 301-390.
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Likely stable in extent of occurrence and probably stable to slightly declining in population size, area of occupancy, and number/condition of occurrences.

Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%

Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, probably less than 25% decline in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.

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Threats

Major Threats
None known.
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Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: This species may be detrimentally impacted by deforestation of areas surrounding breeding sites, though the degree of impact is difficult to quantify. Exposure to UV-B may alter certain behaviors that could have ecological and evolutionary consequences (Blaustein et al. 2000).

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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Regional differences exist in the preferred habitat of T. granulosa. Populations in the Cascades and Coast Range of Washington are most dense in mature and old-growth forests (Aubry and Hall 1991; Corn and Bury 1991), while popuations in the Oregon Cascades are relatively dense in younger stands. These differences should be considered for species management. Logging has a negative impact on the terrestrial habitat and migration corridors of this species and this should be investigated in detail (Petranka 1998).

  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Aubry, K. B., and Hall, P. A. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the southern Washington Cascade Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. Ruggiero, L. F., Aubry, K. B., Carey, A. B., and Huff, M. H., technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 326-338.
  • Corn, P. S. and Bury, R. B. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the Oregon Coast Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 304-317.
  • Stebbins, R.C. (1951). Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1977). "Salamander antipredator postures." Copeia, 1977, 523-535.
  • Brodie, E. D., III, and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1990). ''Tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes: An evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey.'' Evolution, 44, 651-659.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr., Hensel, J. L., and Johnson, J. A. (1974). ''Toxicity of the urodele amphibians Taricha, Notophthalmus, Cynops, and Paramesotriton (Family Salamandridae).'' Copeia, 1974(2), 506-511.
  • Motychak, J. E., E. D. Brodie, Jr., and E. D. Brodie, III (1999). "Evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey: Preadaptation and the evolution of tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes." Evolution, 53, 1528-1535.
  • Nussbaum, R. A., and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1981). ''Taricha granulosa (Skilton). Rough-skinned Newt.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 272.1-272.4.
  • Riemer, W. J. (1958). "Variation and systematic relationships within the salamander genus Taricha." University of California Publications in Zoology, 56(3), 301-390.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Undeveloped buffers should be maintained around breeding sites. It occurs in many protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of T. granulosa on humans, unless ingested. These newts contain enough toxin to kill several humans.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (poisonous )

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Taricha granulosa is of particular interest to biologists because of its evolutionary arms race relationship with common garter snakes. This species is also exploited for the pet trade.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; research and education

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Risks

Relation to Humans

The most toxic newt, Taricha granulosa has been responsible for severe illness and even death of people who have eaten it (e. g., Petranka 1998). Care should be taken when handling these animals. Wash hands after holding newts and do not touch eyes or mouth area.

  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Aubry, K. B., and Hall, P. A. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the southern Washington Cascade Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. Ruggiero, L. F., Aubry, K. B., Carey, A. B., and Huff, M. H., technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 326-338.
  • Corn, P. S. and Bury, R. B. (1991). ''Terrestrial amphibian communities in the Oregon Coast Range.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, technical coordinators, eds., USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington., 304-317.
  • Stebbins, R.C. (1951). Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1977). "Salamander antipredator postures." Copeia, 1977, 523-535.
  • Brodie, E. D., III, and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1990). ''Tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes: An evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey.'' Evolution, 44, 651-659.
  • Brodie, E. D., Jr., Hensel, J. L., and Johnson, J. A. (1974). ''Toxicity of the urodele amphibians Taricha, Notophthalmus, Cynops, and Paramesotriton (Family Salamandridae).'' Copeia, 1974(2), 506-511.
  • Motychak, J. E., E. D. Brodie, Jr., and E. D. Brodie, III (1999). "Evolutionary response of predators to dangerous prey: Preadaptation and the evolution of tetrodotoxin resistance in garter snakes." Evolution, 53, 1528-1535.
  • Nussbaum, R. A., and Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1981). ''Taricha granulosa (Skilton). Rough-skinned Newt.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 272.1-272.4.
  • Riemer, W. J. (1958). "Variation and systematic relationships within the salamander genus Taricha." University of California Publications in Zoology, 56(3), 301-390.
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Wikipedia

Rough-skinned newt

The rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa) is a North American newt known for the strong toxin exuded from its skin.

Appearance[edit]

A stocky newt with rounded snout, it ranges from light brown to olive or brownish-black on top, with the underside, including the head, legs, and tail, a contrasting orange to yellow.[1][2] The skin is granular, but males are smooth-skinned during breeding season. They measure 6 to 9 cm in snout-to-vent length, and 11 to 18 cm overall.[2] They are similar to the California newt (Taricha torosa) but differ in having smaller eyes, yellow irises, V-shaped tooth patterns, and uniformly dark eyelids.[1] Males can be distinguished from females during breeding season by large swollen vent lobes[2] and cornified toe pads.[1]

Distribution and subspecies[edit]

Rough-skinned newt, Fairfield Osborn Preserve

Habitats of rough-skinned newts are found throughout the West Coast of the United States and British Columbia. Their range extends south to Santa Cruz, California, and north to Alaska. They are uncommon east of the Cascade Mountains, though occasionally are found (and considered exotic, and possibly artificially introduced) as far as Montana. One isolated population lives in several ponds just north of Moscow, Idaho, and was most likely introduced.[3]

A number of subspecies have been defined based on local variants, but only two subspecies have wider recognition:[4][5]

Toxicity[edit]

Many newts produce toxins from skin glands as a defense against predation, but the toxins of the genus Taricha are particularly potent. Toxicity is generally experienced only if the newt is ingested, although some individuals have been reported to experience skin irritation after dermal contact, particularly if the eyes are touched after handling the animal without washing hands. On a dare, a 29-year-old man in Oregon swallowed a 20-cm rough-skinned newt and died in July 1981.[6]

Toxin[edit]

The newt's toxin is a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin, which in this species was formerly called "tarichatoxin". It is the same toxin found in pufferfish and a number of other marine animals. This toxin binds reversibly to sodium channels in nerve cells and interferes with the normal flow of sodium ions in and out of the cell. This has the effect of inducing paralysis and death.

Toxin resistance and predation[edit]

A rough-skinned newt underwater
A rough-skinned newt at Brice Creek in Oregon

Throughout much of the newt’s range, the common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) has been observed to exhibit resistance to the tetrodotoxin produced in its skin. While in principle the toxin binds to a tube-shaped protein that acts as a sodium channel in the snake's nerve cells, researchers have identified a genetic disposition in several snake populations where the protein is configured in such a way as to hamper or prevent binding of the toxin. In each of these populations, the snakes exhibit resistance to the toxin and successfully prey upon the newts. Toxin-resistant garter snakes are the only known animals today that can eat a rough-skinned newt and survive.

In evolutionary theory, the relationship between the rough-skinned newt and the common garter snake is considered an example of co-evolution.[7] The mutations in the snake’s genes that conferred resistance to the toxin have resulted in a selective pressure that favors newts which produce more potent levels of toxin. Increases in newt toxicity then apply a selective pressure favoring snakes with mutations conferring even greater resistance. This cycle of a predator and prey evolving to one another is sometimes termed an evolutionary arms race and has resulted in the newts producing levels of toxin far in excess of what is needed to kill any other conceivable predator.

Parasites[edit]

Parasites include the trematode Helipegus occidualis, the adult form of which may infest the newt's esophagus and the anterior of its stomach.[8]

See also[edit]

Line notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Nelson, Nate (2003). "Taricha granulosa". Caudata Culture website. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Hallock, L. A. (2005). "Rough-skinned newt". Washington Herp Atlas. Dept. of Natural Resources, Washington State. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ Natureserve Explorer
  4. ^ Frost, Darrel R. (2013). "Taricha granulosa (Skilton, 1849)". Amphibian Species of the World 5.6, an Online Reference. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Nate Nelson (2000-2002). "Taricha granulosa Rough-skinned Newt". Caudata Culture. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Bradley, Susan G.; Klika, Larry J. (July 1981). "A fatal poisoning from the Oregon rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa)". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 246 (3): 247. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320030039026. PMID 7241765.  Closed access
  7. ^ American Book Company, Liz Thompson (2006). Passing the New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment in Science. American Book Company. p. 106. ISBN 1-59807-103-3. 
  8. ^ Marvin Clinton Meyer, Oliver Wilford Olsen (1975). Essentials of parasitology (2, illustrated ed.). W. C. Brown Co. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-697-04682-6. 

References[edit]

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Crater Lake newt

The Crater Lake newt, Taricha granulosa mazamae, is a subspecies of the rough-skinned newt. Its type locality is Crater Lake, Oregon.[2] Similar newts have been found in Alaska,[3][4] but their identity is unclear.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Myers, G. S. (1942). "Notes on Pacific coast Triturus". Copeia 1942 (2): 77–82. JSTOR 1439122. 
  2. ^ Frost, Darrel R. (2013). "Taricha granulosa (Skilton, 1849)". Amphibian Species of the World 5.6, an Online Reference. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  3. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa), Globaltwitcher, ed. N. Stromberg [1]
  4. ^ Nate Nelson (2000-2002). "Taricha granulosa Rough-skinned Newt". Caudata Culture. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Two subspecies are currently recognized: the northern rough-skinned newt, T. g. granulosa, is found throughout the range; Crater Lake rough-skinned newt, T. g. mazamae, is found in the vicinity of Crater Lake, Oregon.

A high frequency of breeding adults on Gravina Island near Ketchikan, Alaska, display morphological characters similar to the Crater Lake subspecies, T. g. mazamae. Genetic studies suggest that newts from Wrangell Island differ little from those in Washington State (MacDonald 2003).

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