Newts...because they're there

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jonathan
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Newts...because they're there

Post by jonathan » December 24th, 2015, 10:13 am

I've done posts on the west coast slenders, torrents, and climbing salamanders, three salamander families I've taken a special interest in over the years. Sometime after I've finally gotten out to northern Idaho (as well as tracked down those secretive Cascades/Siskyou species), I'm going to do posts on Dicamptodon and Plethodon too. But I just realized - I forgot about newts!

Because, um, I don't care very much about newts. :?

They're cute, love them when I see them...and that's about it.

But, because they're there, and I've seen our three coastal species, I thought I might as well do a newt post.

I really haven't had any energy to research them though, unlike those other families. So if you want to learn real information, go to Sam Sweet's fantastic post on the California Newt!



Starting way down in SoCal, at the San Diego/Riverside county borders, you can find the California Newt (Taricha torosa) in the canyons of the Santa Ana Mountains. They appear to be strictly a mountain canyon, stream-breeding species in SoCal.

Great eyebrows

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habitat shot

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Slightly further south in San Diego County there is a population with warty skin that used to be considered T.t. klauberi, the Warty Newt, but it turned out they were just diseased. Still, it's a disjunct, genetically different population, and might be revived as a subspecies someday.


Getting up into LA County, newts are the most reliable salamanders to find in canyon streams outside of slenders. And we take whatever sallys we can get down there! As Sam writes, populations are in trouble due to crayfish, drought, development, and road mortality.

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habitat shot of these nice canyon bottoms. Five points if you can identify the other bottom in the photo.

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There's a completely disjunct population of newts running through the Tehachapis and Sierra Nevadas. Somehow, the ones at the bottom are California Newts (far disjunct from other populations) and the rest are a separate species, the Sierra Newt, with a wide hybrid zone in the middle. Whatever.

These representatives of the "California Newt" from the Tehachapis are remarkably red in color

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Habitat shot

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Back to the coast, you can find them in pockets in Monterey County. This is the furthest south that pond-breeding populations can be found, though they are rare and most populations in this area are still stream-breeders. These were breeding in a fantastic spot in the Big Sur River.

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My southernmost pond breeders were in Santa Cruz County

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habitat shot

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But there are still plenty of stream-breeders around. This one from Santa Clara County

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Also in Santa Clara County, a pond-breeder in habitat stunningly different from the stream-breeders.

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But from Santa Cruz/Santa Clara counties going north, you know what you can also find? Rough-skinned Newts (Taricha granulosa)! The can be distinguished by the continuation of dark dorsal coloration below the eyes, and perhaps rougher skin. These newts were found in a stream in San Mateo County, which I believe has California Newts as well.

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habitat shot

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Then you get up to Sonoma County, and all three coastal species are around! This stream in Mendocino County had both Red-bellied Newts and California Newts.

As a light rain fell in December in a small stream in oak habitat, the Red-bellied Newts (Taricha rivularis) were moving out of the water and heading upland in big numbers.

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There was a sole California Newt hiding among them.

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In redwood habitat only a little ways away, I ran into this Rough-skinned Newt the next day. All three species in two days within 100 miles.

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Both California Newts and Red-bellies drop out of the picture before you get up to the border counties. So here in Curry County just on the Oregon side of the border, this gorgeous stream only held Rough-skinned Newts. There were more than a hundred in the pools here in late April.

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One of my favorite habitat shots

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Over in Crater Lake, the "Crater Lake Newt" used to be considered a distinct subspecies, but it isn't recognized anymore. I haven't seen that population, but I did find another lake population at over 5,000 feet in the Cascades in Lake County. This is close to their eastern range boundary.

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They keep following the Cascades up...in the Columbia Gorge in Multnomah County when you're finding every other kind of stream salamander in the world, the newts take you by surprise, but they're there too.

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They follow the Coast Range up as well. Here's one from the eastern edge of the coast range in Washington County.

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The newts are in the valley in-between too, of course. This juvi died crossing a bike path in really flat wetland habitat in Lane County.

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Here are a couple in a nice pond in the middle of agricultural habitat in Polk County.

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And here are some from the Columbia River basin in Columbia County, within sight of Washington.

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habitat - moving between the hills and the floodplain

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Of course there are newts in Washington and BC too...but I don't have their pictures.


Thanks for taking a look!

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hellihooks
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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by hellihooks » December 24th, 2015, 2:28 pm

there is an isolated, (likely introduced population) of red belly newts in the Santa Cruz mt, as well. nice post.

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Calfirecap
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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by Calfirecap » December 26th, 2015, 5:48 am

Great series of post Jonathan, I had missed the others until now. Thanks, and well done.

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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by FrogO_Oeyes » December 26th, 2015, 9:45 am

And then there are the genetically distinct rough-skins in the Palouse prairie of Idaho.

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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by hellihooks » December 26th, 2015, 2:51 pm

Calfirecap wrote:Great series of post Jonathan, I had missed the others until now. Thanks, and well done.
I know, right? Torrent sally post one of the best posts ever... :thumb: I can't even imagine climbing cold rushing waterfalls in the far north... :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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jonathan
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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by jonathan » December 28th, 2015, 8:51 pm

Calfirecap wrote:Great series of post Jonathan, I had missed the others until now. Thanks, and well done.
hellihooks wrote:I know, right? Torrent sally post one of the best posts ever... :thumb: I can't even imagine climbing cold rushing waterfalls in the far north... :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks much to both of you! The torrent sali post is probably my own favorite that I've ever posted too. And searching waterfalls might be close to my favorite kind of herping.

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TravisK
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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by TravisK » December 29th, 2015, 8:33 am

Taricha granulosa in ID are now on my 2016 Target list. Great post Jonathan.

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AndyKraemer
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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by AndyKraemer » December 30th, 2015, 7:54 pm

Jonathan, great post!
TravisK wrote:Taricha granulosa in ID are now on my 2016 Target list.
I'll be living in Moscow until late May, so if anyone is in town and wants to see the Palouse Taricha, let me know.

Cheers,
Andy

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jonathan
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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by jonathan » January 7th, 2016, 9:12 pm

Thanks Travis and Andy!

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Owen
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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by Owen » January 8th, 2016, 8:58 am

Can't get enough newt love.
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Brian Hubbs
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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by Brian Hubbs » January 13th, 2016, 4:04 pm

Jonathan: You gonna post the winners of the national and historical contests? :beer:

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jonathan
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Re: Newts...because they're there

Post by jonathan » January 13th, 2016, 8:23 pm

Nah - I'm not in contest posting mode this year.

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