Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

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BillMcGighan
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Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by BillMcGighan » February 9th, 2015, 10:01 am

Normally, I visit Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) pools in the springtime only at night, but I had to visit this one in the daytime to see if ice was out.
(CM, this was the pool we wisely chose to not visit a couple weeks ago, since it was probably covered with ice!)

Here, Eastern Spotted Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens) chow down on some “sunny side ups” that were provided by some very gracious Spotted Salamanders. They did seem to prefer the clear and semi-clear egg masses, but that would need more observation.

A nice paper on clear/opaque egg masses:
http://www.hedgeslab.org/pubs/59.pdf



Almost every clump of eggs had one or more newts taking advantage of the protein bonanza.


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Here’s one of the moms.


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If you haven’t watched them feed on other amphib eggs before, here’s a peek.





Also interesting was a pile of 20+ dead newts in the center of the pond.


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JakeScott
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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by JakeScott » February 10th, 2015, 3:29 pm

This is so great, Bill. I've never actually witnessed this in person, only heard/read about it. Good job capturing it!

-Jake

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Nshepard
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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by Nshepard » February 10th, 2015, 3:41 pm

I've personally only see them consume Tiger Salamander eggs but I assumed they likely eat everybody's egg masses.

Still cool to get some photos and video of it in action.

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Daniel D Dye
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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by Daniel D Dye » February 10th, 2015, 3:42 pm

That's an awesome observation, Bill. I wonder what killed the 20 or so newts.

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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by mtratcliffe » February 10th, 2015, 5:22 pm

Awesome find, except for the dead newts. That said, I hope the Spotted Sallies in the area aren't set back by this feast! Thanks for sharing!

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by BillMcGighan » February 11th, 2015, 8:27 pm

Jake
Good job capturing it!
Thanks Jake.
Now the challenge for you is to capture an amphiuma attacking a Limpkin nest and eating the eggs.



Nate
I've personally only see them consume Tiger Salamander eggs but I assumed they likely eat everybody's egg masses.
Tiger eggs – very cool
In this area, in Wood Frog pools that are not totally ephemeral, we regularly see newts eating Wood Frog eggs.
I think your right about eating everything. Last year, I watched newts eating on a dead cat carcass as it putrefied. They looked like tiny crocs, spinning off pieces!




Matt
I hope the Spotted Sallies in the area aren't set back by this feast!

I doubt it, Matt. This pond has tons of Green and Bull Frogs, eggs and wogs, in warmer weather, so there is an abundance of newt food




DDD
That's an awesome observation, Bill. I wonder what killed the 20 or so newts.
It's puzzling, Dan.
I visited this pond about 3 weeks ago (1/17/15) and it was half covered with ice. It is about 100 feet X 30 feet, but only 6 inches of water. There were no spotted eggs yet. I found 2 dead newts, hundreds of live newts, and 2 dead immature bullfrogs.

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I found one newt that was bloated and floating on the surface, still alive. I have no clue what made the newt bloated, but the quantity of dead amphibians seemed consistent with ice-out kills I'd seen up north.

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This pile of dead newts???? I have no idea, Dan.

One possible factor is that, although this is a National Forest Pond, one end touches a rural paved road where human pigs occasionally dump their household garbage; no telling what chemicals occasionally get in this pond.

PS, by the way, in this pond particularly, I use hip waders and religiously follow decontamination protocol
http://www.northeastparc.org/products/p ... otocol.pdf

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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by Noah M » February 11th, 2015, 9:00 pm

Last year, I watched newts eating on a dead cat carcass as it putrefied. They looked like tiny crocs, spinning off pieces!
Pictures? Sounds gross and amazing. Has this ever been documented before?

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by BillMcGighan » February 12th, 2015, 5:47 am

Pictures? Sounds gross and amazing.
no pics. I guess I'll have to go shoot a cat and duplicate it!!! ;) ;)
(OK cat lovers.... just kidding.... well, no ..... I mean, yes, kidding ...... of course not.........ok, maybe......no, not an inside cat anyway.....Hmmm outside?????.....No, what was I thinking????? Cabin fever, of course.....)
Has this ever been documented before?
I don't know about carrion? Good question.
I can say that in captivity, newts will eat small pieces of beaf heart and bologna, offered on the tip of a dissecting needle, in addition to natural food.


Wait a minute..... Small pieces of cat, the other white meat..... Noooo, what was I thinking????? Well, maybe just a little piece ....Hmmmm?????? I wonder???????

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Nshepard
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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by Nshepard » February 24th, 2015, 7:46 pm

I see occasional dead winter amphibs in the ponds I monitor and frequent. Death is a natural process - most probably die from complications stemming from very cold conditions over long periods. I am sure their are parasite, fungal, and bacterial interactions going on we don't detect. I know ranavirus is a really big real right now - very virulent in wood frogs.

Sort answer - I don't know, could be a lot of things. But if you see big die offs, I'd report them to a regional wildlife biologist.

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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by ThatFrogGuy » February 26th, 2015, 6:47 pm

Cool observations! I have seen the same thing with jeffersonianum eggs.
ImageEastern Newt Preying upon Jefferson's Salamander Eggs by Zach Truelock, on Flickr

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by BillMcGighan » February 28th, 2015, 5:15 am

Very good, thanks for the contribution.

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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by BDSkinner » March 3rd, 2015, 11:19 am

Awesome! I too have witnessed the same behavior. Maybe this year I'll snap my own photo of it. My initial reaction to the dead newts was a cold snap. That's the reason I haven't been out yet. With our recent late winter weather, it seems our spotteds are holding off a bit. I have been told of wood frogs being around, but they are usually the first to the party every year.


-Brad

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Newt Predation on Spotted Salamander Eggs

Post by BillMcGighan » March 5th, 2015, 5:03 am

Nate
I see occasional dead winter amphibs in the ponds I monitor and frequent. Death is a natural process - most probably die from complications stemming from very cold conditions over long periods.
Brad
My initial reaction to the dead newts was a cold snap.
I haven't returned to this pond since, but I'm sure you guys are right. Having them piled in one spot was strange.
At the lake I grew up on in the north, every ice-out in April revealed hundreds of rougher fish that had died during the winter; mostly Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, and Green Sunfish, Yellow perch, and Bullhead Catfish. This was every year, didn't seem to lessen their populations, and the combination of fish and fly larva provided an incredible feast for large numbers of birds like Boat-tailed Grackles.



Brad
With our recent late winter weather, it seems our spotteds are holding off a bit. I have been told of wood frogs being around, but they are usually the first to the party every year.
You're right with this winter. I'm at about 2,000 feet in altitude, and you're over 1,000 feet higher than I am. Yesterday, we went skiing and I saw most ponds above 3,000 feet were still iced over, while down here they're free.

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