Morphology of the Northern Banded Newt, Ommatotriton ophryticus (Berthold, 1846) (Caudata: Salamandridae) in Uludağ (Bursa, Turkey) - PDF

Herpetology Notes, volume 4: (2011) (published online on 6 May 2011) Morphology of the Northern Banded Newt, Ommatotriton ophryticus (Berthold, 1846) (Caudata: Salamandridae) in Uludağ (Bursa,

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Herpetology Notes, volume 4: (2011) (published online on 6 May 2011) Morphology of the Northern Banded Newt, Ommatotriton ophryticus (Berthold, 1846) (Caudata: Salamandridae) in Uludağ (Bursa, Turkey) Kerim ÇİÇEK, Dinçer AYAZ and Yusuf BAYRAKCI Abstract. The study was carried out to examine the morphology of Ommatotriton ophryticus in Uludağ (Bursa, Turkey) between April and May A total of 24 individuals (3 juveniles, 12, 9 ) were evaluated. The mean total body length is 85.3 mm ( ) for juveniles, mm ( ) for males, and mm ( ) for females. Male-biased sexual size dimorphism was observed between sexes. Keywords. Caudata, Salamandridae, Ommatotriton ophryticus nesterovi, Turkey Introduction The banded newt, Triturus vittatus (Gray, 1835) complex, is a poorly studied member of the western Palearctic genus Triturus (Litvinchuk et al., 2005). The distribution of T. vittatus complex is fragmented into Ege University, Faculty of Science, Biology Department, Zoology Section, TR-35100, Bornova-Izmir, Turkey two parts. In the southern part of its range, the complex is subdivided into two parts: T. v. vittatus (Gray 1835) and T.v. cilicensis (Wolterstroff, 1906) (Schmidler and Schmidler, 1967; Atatür, 1974; Olgun et al., 1997). The western part of its range is attributed to a different subspecies as T. v. ophryticus. The subspecies ranges from the western Caucasus in southern Russia and Georgia, through northwestern Armenia and northern Turkey west to the İstanbul Strait (Olgun et al., 2008). Figure 1. The distribution of Ommatotriton ophryticus (revised from Başoğlu and Özeti, 1973, Baran and Yılmaz 1986, Tarkhnishvili and Gokhelashvili 1999, Litvinchuk et al. 2005). [Circles, O. ophryticus ophryticus, squares, O. ophryticus nesterovi, filled squares, Kirazlıyayla and Sarıalan.] 162 Kerim ÇİÇEK et al. Table 1. Body measurements (all in mm) and ratios of O. ophryticus. [n= the number of specimens, x= mean, SE= standard error of mean, Min.-Max. = extreme values, SD= standard deviation, L = total length, Lsv = snout-vent length (measured from the snout to the posterior edge of the base of the cloaca), Lcd = tail length, Lc = head length (measured from snout to the gular fold), Ltc = head width, Pa = forelimb length, Pp= hind limb length, O = anterior-posterior diameter of eye, Ln = distance between nostrils]. Recently, Arntzen and Olgun (2000) and Litvinchuk et al. (2001, 2004) mentioned that the trunk vertebrae count and genome size were different in the western and the eastern populations of T. v. ophryticus. Litvinchuk et al. (2005) have split the genus Triturus sensu lato into four monophyletic genera: Triturus Rafinesque, 1815,?1820 (see Schmidtler, 2004) [T. carnifex, T. cristatus, T. dobrogicus, T. karelinii, T. marmoratus, and T. pigmaeus], Lophinus Rafinesque, 1815,?1820 [= Paleotriton Bolkay, 1927; T. boskai, T. helveticus, T. italicus, T. montandoni, and T. vulgaris], Mesotriton Bolkay, 1927 [T. alpestris] and Ommatotriton Gray, 1850 [T. vittatus]. They have also argued that T.v. ophryticus was at distinct species and its western and eastern populations differed at subspecific level. The western group of Ommatotriton ophryticus is separated into subspecies O.o. nesterovi by Litvinchuk et al., Nesterov s northern banded newt is distributed in northern Anatolia from Kastamonu (Turkey) to the İstanbul Strait (Litvinchuk et al. 2005). Uludağ is located in southwestern part of its distribution (Figure 1). The aim of the present study is to provide information on the morphology of O.o. nesterovi in Uludağ. Figure 2. The most common pattern of O. o. nesterovi in Uludağ. Morphology of banded newts 163 Table 2. t-test results of sexes [t= t table value, df= degrees of freedom, P= significant level, aster shows statistically significant characters between sexes.]. Materials and Methods The specimens were captured from Kirazlıyayla (40 o N, 29 o E, 1476 m a.s.l) and Sarıalan (40 o N, 29 o E, 1617 m a.s.l) on April 15 and May in Uludağ (Bursa/Turkey). After being captured, the individuals were sexed and measured with dial calipers to the nearest 0.01 mm. They were then released where they were captured. The following body measurements were taken (all in mm): L = total length, Lsv = snout-vent length (measured from the snout to the posterior edge of the base of the cloaca), Lcd = tail length, Lc = head length (measured from snout to the gular fold), Ltc = head width, Pa = forelimb length, Pp= hind limb length, O = anterior-posterior diameter of eye, Ln = distance between nostrils. Ratios of body measurements were used to compare the populations. Subsequently, the number of trunk vertebrae (the cervical and sacral vertebrae excluded) of 11 individuals (2 juv, 5, 4 ) was counted by X-ray photography (Litvinchuk and Borkin, 2003; Litvinchuk et al., 2005). The coloration and pattern were also evaluated. Sex comparisons were analyzed by student t-test. Alpha was set to Results and Discussion A total of 24 aquatic individuals (3 juv, 12, 9 ) were examined in Uludağ (Bursa, Turkey). Within the individuals, 19 (3 juv, 8, 8 ) were collected in Kirazlıyayla, 5 (4, 1 ) in Sarıalan. In the O.o. nesterovi population in Uludağ, the average total length (L) is 85.3 mm (range= ) for juveniles, mm ( ) for males, and mm ( ) for females. The average snout-vent lengths (Lsv) are 49.8 mm ( ) for juveniles, 73.2 mm ( ) for males, and 65.3 mm ( ) for females (Table 1). Arntzen and Olgun (2000) stated that O. ophryticus differs substantially in size from O. vittatus, its lower adult size is total length 100 mm, and the maximum total length is 170 mm. In the western Turkey population of O. ophryticus, the mean L is mm (range= mm) for males and mm (70-124) for females (Eiselt, 1966; Schmidtler and Schmidtler, 1967; Raxworthy, 1989 In: Borkin et al., 2003). The mean L of Northern Caucasus populations are mm ( ) for males and mm ( ) for females (Golubew, 1982; Tuniev, 1994; Borkin and Litvinchuk s own data in: Borkin et al., 2003). Başoğlu and Özeti (1973) stated that male L could reach 160 mm, and 145 mm in females. The Lsv in the Caucasian population (Georgia) of O. ophryticus varies between mm for males and mm for females (Tarkhnishvili and Gokhelashvili, 1999). Statistically significant differences were found between the sexes considering the values of L, Lsv, Lcd, Pa and Pp. The males were significantly larger than the females (Table 2). Sexual dimorphism was also emphasized by previous studies (Tarkhnishvili and Gokhelashvili, 1999; Arntzen and Olgun, 2000). As shown in Table 3, there were some differences in terms of L, Lcd, Pa, Pp, Ln, O-Ltc (anteriorposterior diameter of eye/head width), Ln-Ltc (distance between nostrils/head width), Lc-Ltc (head length/head width) values among populations. There are distinct differences in body size from different parts of the range (Tarkhnishvili and Gokhelashvili, 1999). A possible reason for this is derived from the development of individuals. We found the mean number of trunk vertebrae in O.o. nesterovi as 12.3 (SD= 0.47) and varied between 12 and 13. Arntzen and Olgun (2000) reported first data on the number of rib-bearing vertebrae (trunk vertebrae and sacrum) in T. vittatus complex [O. vittatus and O. ophryticus]. They observed that rib-bearing vertebrae of T. vittatus complex numbered between 12 and 15 and modal counts were 14 (13+1) for O. ophryticus. Litvinchuk et al. (2005) reported that O.o. nesterovi had 12.3 (SD= 0.5, range= 12 13) trunk vertebrae. They also stated that the eastern (nominate ssp.) population had 13.0 (0.3, 12-14) trunk vertebrae. Our results are in accordance with the mentioned literature. The dorsum and flanks of males in the aquatic phase is bronze-olive or olive-brown with dark small, oval 164 Kerim ÇİÇEK et al. Table 3. Comparison of some measurements (in mm) and ratios of Ommatotriton ophryticus in Turkey Locality L Lsv Lcd Lc Ltc Pa Ulubey** x SD Erbaa** x SD Tokat (Center)** x SD Reşadiye** x SD Erbaa*** x SD Reşadiye*** x SD Ulubey*** x SD Uludağ x SD O Ln Lc-L O-Ltc Ln-Ltc Lc-Ltc Ulubey** x Erbaa** x Tokat (Center)** x SD 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 Reşadiye** x Erbaa*** x SD Reşadiye*** x SD Ulubey*** x SD Uludağ x SD 0.1 0.1 0.1 **Olgun and Baran (1993), ***Arntzen and Olgun (2000) or irregular shaped spots (Figure 2). In both sexes, a light pearl whitish band bordered with dark stripes occurred on the flanks, extending from the corner of the mouth to the groin. During the breeding season, the mid-dorsal and caudal crest of males is notched and very high (than O. vittatus), brownish with dark vertical stripes. During this season, the male s tail is covered with dark spots from above and with blue and/or greenish spots from the sides and below. The ground color of the dorsum and flanks of females is uniformly olive green. The belly of both sexes is yellow to orange, generally without pattern. The throat is frequently yellow and rarely white, with numerous irregularly arranged small and medium-sized dark spots. The belly (12.5 %), throat (83 %), and groin - hind limbs region (75 %) of the specimens in the study are covered with irregular shaped spots. Usually, females and juveniles have a tendency to be without pattern compared to males in the Uludağ population. Litvinchuk et al. (2005) described that O.o.nesterovi lacked black spots on the belly, but had narrow white and dark stripes in the lower part of both sides of the body, while and breeding males were characterized by very high dorsal crests and denticulation of the lower edge of the tail. The coloration and pattern of the Uludağ population are in accordance with the literature (Terentev and Chernov, 1949; Başoğlu and Özeti, 1973; Olgun and Baran, 1993; Tarkhnishvili and Morphology of banded newts 165 Gokhelashvili, 1999; Borkin et al., 2003; Litvinchuk et al., 2005; AmphibiaWeb, 2010). The population of the Northern banded newt is decreasing and under threat (Olgun et al., 2008). Habitat loss and fragmentation (through forest destruction, destruction of wetlands, overgrazing by cattle, urbanization, industrial and agrochemical pollution), predation (e.g. Procyon lotor), and the pet trade negatively affect the populations (Tarkhnishvili and Gokhelashvili, 1999; Olgun et al., 2008; AmphibiaWeb, 2010). In Uludağ, there are many pressure elements affecting sustainability of the Northern banded newt population, especially arising from anthropogenic factors (Çiçek, 2009). According to the field observations in this study, populations of O.o. nesterovi are more vulnerable than the nominate subspecies because of the rate of habitat loss and fragmentation. This reveals the requirement to take some protection measures. Acknowledgements. This study is partly supported by TUBİTAK [Project number: 105T336], EBİLTEM [2007BİL015] and Research Fund Accountancy of Ege University [2006FEN015]. We are indebted to these establishments for their financial supports. We thank Biologist S.K. ASERIM for helping in the field studies. The authors wish to acknowledge use of the Maptool program for analysis and graphics in this paper. Maptool is a product of SEATURTLE.ORG. (Information is available at www. References AmphibiaWeb (2010): Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application] Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: (Accessed: Nov 2, 2010). Arntzen, J.W., Olgun, K. (2000): Taxonomy of the banded newt, Triturus vittatus: morphological and allozyme data. Amphibia- Reptilia 21: Atatür, M. K. (1974): Güney Anadolu da yasayan Triturus vittatus (Salamandridae) populasyonlari Üzerinde morfolojiktaksonomik arastirmalar. Sci. Rep. Fac. Sci. Ege Univ. No. 188:1-19. [in Turkish] Baran, I., Yılmaz, İ. (1986): On the distribution or Triturus vittatus ophryticus in Northern Anatolia. Zool. Middle East 1: Başoğlu, M., Özeti, N. (1973): Türkiye Amfibileri. Ege Üniv. Fen Fak. Kitaplar Serisi No: 50, İzmir, 155pp. [in Turkish] Borkin, L.J., Litvinchuk, S.N., Zuiderwijk, A. (2003): Bandmolch, Triturus vittatus (Gray, 1835). pp In: Grossenbacher, K.G., Thiesmeier, B. (eds): Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas. Bd. 4/IIA: Schwanzlurche (Urodela) IIA, Hrg., Wiesbaden, AULAVerlag. Çiçek, K. (2009): Uludağ (Bursa) da yaşayan, Rana macrocnemis Boulenger, 1885 (Anura: Ranidae) in populasyon dinamiği. Ege University, Institute of Natural and Applied Science, Ph.D. thesis, 274p. [In Turkish] Litvinchuk, S. N., Zuiderwijk, A., Borkin, L. J., Rosanov, J. M. (2005): Taxonomic status of Triturus vittatus (Amphibia: Salamandridae) in western Turkey: trunk vertebrae count, genome size and allozyme data. Amphibia-Reptilia 26: Litvinchuk, S.N., Borkin, L.J. (2003): Variation in number of trunk vertebrae and in count of costal grooves in salamanders of the family Hynobiidae. Contr. Zool. 72: Mermer, A. Ayaz, D. Çiçek, K. (2008): Abundance of Syntopic Newts, Triturus karelinii (Strauch, 1870) and Triturus vittatus (Gray, 1835), in Uludağ National Park (Bursa, Turkey). Turk J Zool 32: Olgun K., Baran, İ. (1993): Orta Karadeniz Bölgesi nin iç kesiminde yaşayan Triturus vittatus (Gray, 1835) (Urodela: Amphibia) populasyonları üzerine sistematik araştırma. 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