Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescens

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The Jake-Man
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Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescens

Post by The Jake-Man » August 30th, 2014, 1:45 pm

Last November, while hiking around a large reservoir in South Central Pennsylvania, I came upon a very peculiar sight. Laid out on rocks across the NW shore of the reservoir were dozens of adult, fully metamorphosed Eastern Newts. All had their backs turned to the mid-afternoon sun, and allowed me to get extremely close to photograph them. The last three photos are from this March, when I observed the same behavior, but only saw 3 individuals out of the water. Have any of you ever seen this behavior before? Also, do you think it is thermoregulation or something else?

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Noah M
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Re: Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescen

Post by Noah M » August 30th, 2014, 5:13 pm

I had a non-herping, non-wildlife background classmate tell me he sees newts do this all the time at his boyscout camp lake. I had totally dismissed it, but after seeing this, maybe not

BeMoreAssertive
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Re: Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescen

Post by BeMoreAssertive » August 30th, 2014, 6:27 pm

Oh wow, that's really fascinating! Given that you saw dozens doing the same thing I would think they would have a common need for thermoregulation. I'm sure they don't fear desiccating because it seems that most of them have half of their bodies left in the water. Another need for drying out could be to remove ectoparasites.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescen

Post by Kelly Mc » August 30th, 2014, 9:54 pm

Yes - I have in captives I kept in a low long glass tank with a UVB tube across its length. There was a high end land portion that inclined in graduation to the aquatic portion. Alongside the uvb source warmth was accentuated on this high end with a laterally positioned 25 watt tubular incandescent bulb. The newts positioned themselves in those poses in reference to the lighting, but also along the back wall and draped in the pothos under the UVB tube which was only inches away above them as they basked like thus. I have also seen this basking behavior varietally expressed in other newts and anurans kept in whole light provisioned vivaria.

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Rich in Reptiles
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Re: Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescen

Post by Rich in Reptiles » August 30th, 2014, 10:29 pm

That is so neat and so beautiful!! Thanks for sharing, had no idea they did this!

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mfb
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Re: Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescen

Post by mfb » August 31st, 2014, 2:09 pm

Very neat observation and photos, thanks for posting.

It certainly could be a strategy to fight off fungal or bacterial infections. Here's an interesting paper from Cori Richards on that topic:

behavioral thermoregulation and disease

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescen

Post by Kelly Mc » August 31st, 2014, 2:43 pm

Not only does warmer temperature and a slight dry out inhibit many fungal life, but ultraviolet light itself is a known anti fungal and bacterial agent. I have also seen significant differences in mortality rates in froglets, and amphibians generally when they have the opportunity to voluntarily access patches or areas that allow them this behavior.

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The Jake-Man
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Re: Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescen

Post by The Jake-Man » September 1st, 2014, 7:27 am

Thanks for the replies everyone! Parasite elimination had occurred to me, and pollution/poor water quality was suggested to me as well. Basic water quality tests came up normal, I just wanted to see what others thought. Seems like I could do a lot more investigating here. Another interesting aspect of this population is its density. I have not formally sampled density here, but there are areas where the density of adults can exceed 2 or 3 per square foot of shallow water.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescen

Post by Kelly Mc » September 1st, 2014, 9:46 am

Perhaps it is just a normal behavior that was clarified by the particular situ sighted, and not an anomalous response to abnormal conditions at all. Another thing to keep in mind is that semi aquatic poikilotherms will also bask when immersed in shallow water, I have even seen fishes station themselves right below the surface, under detectable radiant source. Koi fish will often do this in the sun.



edit to add :

I think sometimes when a familiar behavior is well exhibited in an identified group /s, it is assumed not to exist in other groups that may not present it as overtly, but have their version and frequency of the behavior. Even certain insects bask.

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Nshepard
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Re: Observation of "Basking" Behavior in Adult N. viridescen

Post by Nshepard » September 2nd, 2014, 1:02 pm

Huh, interesting. Looks like basking to me. I've never seem them do this in the south.

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