Mesotriton alpestris


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Mesotriton alpestris
Species Authority: (Laurenti, 1768)
Common Name/s:
English Alpine Newt
Spanish Tritón Alpino
Triturus alpestris (Laurenti, 1768)
Triturus alpestris (Laurenti, 1768)
Taxonomic Notes: There are some ecological and behavioural traits that support a certain distinction (perhaps at the species level) between some of the currently recognized subspecies (Arano and Arntzen 1987; Andreone et al. 1993). Populations in the Peloponnese and southeastern continental Greece are undergoing taxonomic revision (P. Lymberakis pers. comm.).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-14
Assessor/s: Jan Willem Arntzen, Mathieu Denoël, Sergius Kuzmin, Vladimir Ishchenko, Pedro Beja, Franco Andreone, Robert Jehle, Per Nyström, Claude Miaud, Brandon Anthony, Benedikt Schmidt, Agnieszka Ogrodowczyk, Maria Ogielska, Jaime Bosch, Milan Vogrin, Miguel Tejedo
Reviewer/s: Cox, N. and Temple, H.J. (Global Amphibian Assessment)
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. Some taxa within M. alpestris, including polyphenisms (populations with no observed genetic variation from M. alpestris) are severely threatened and close to extinction. This is the case for most of the 87 known paedomorphic populations (only a few of these are considered not to be threatened). Subspecies of M. alpestris that probably qualify for listing in a threatened category include M.a. veluchiensis, M.a. inexpectatus, M.a. lacusnigri and M.a. cyreni (M. Denoël pers. comm.). The neotenous subspecies M.a. serdarus, endemic to Zminicko Lake, in Montenegro, is considered to be highly endangered by Kalezic and Dzukic (2001). The subspecies M.a. inexpectatus, restricted to a few sites on the Catena Costiera in Calabria, southern Italy, is threatened through significant alteration of the aquatic habitats (F. Andreone pers. comm.); this subspecies inexpectatus, would qualify as Vulnerable if assessed separately. It is present at fewer than 5 locations and potential threats are habitat loss and the introduction of predatory fish to the lakes where they live. Populations from southern Greece, which might be taxonomically distinct, are probably also threatened.
2004 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found throughout much of Europe, ranging from the French Atlantic coastline north to Denmark and eastwards to the Ukrainian Carpathians, Romania, and Bulgaria. It is widely distributed in the Balkans. Isolated populations are present in southern Italy and northern Spain (not present in Portugal). The distribution map is based largely on Denoël et al. (2001). It has been successfully introduced in the United Kingdom [distribution not mapped here], and in the Sierra de Guadarrama (Madrid Province, central Spain). The species occurs from sea level to around 2,500m asl (Switzerland and French Alps).
Albania; Austria; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Italy; Liechtenstein; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Montenegro; Netherlands; Poland; Romania; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Switzerland; Ukraine
United Kingdom
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is generally common in suitable habitat. The species is considered to be rare in Hungary and Bulgaria; threatened in Austria and Denmark; vulnerable in Spain (M.a. cyreni) and endangered in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Greece (Gasc et al., 1997; Denoël pers. comm.).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This is a very aquatic species generally found close to water. It is widespread in both alpine and lowland habitats including wet, shaded coniferous, mixed and deciduous forests, sub alpine meadows and pastureland. The species breeds, and larval development takes place, in all stagnant waters including shallow ponds, temporary pools, lakes, and ditches, drinking troughs, ruts and sometimes slow-moving streams. The generation time is between 2 and 10 years depending on the locality. The species life expectancy might be more than 20 years, but is usually around 7 years. Several dozens to hundreds of eggs are deposited per female each year. Neotenous populations occur in some areas, for example mountain lakes of Slovenia, Bosnia and Montenegro. The species can be found in slightly modified habitats, although it is less common in large cultivated fields.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is vulnerable to fish introduction and breeding habitat destruction (drainage of wetlands and aquatic pollution) throughout its range. Following fish introductions, most populations rapidly become extinct (particularly alternative paedomorphic populations); some taxa (if taxonomy justified) have disappeared following fish introductions (e.g., M.a. lacustris: M. Denoël pers. comm.). In some areas there is over collection of the species for use in education and science (this has led to the extinction of the species from some Ukrainian localities). It is also collected in small numbers for the commercial pet trade (especially M.a. inexpectatus of Calabria). Populations in the Pelopenese and southeastern continental Greece are facing severe habitat loss. At least one of the introduced populations in the UK harbours chytridiomycosis, threatening native amphibian populations in the area.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention. It is present in many protected areas, and protected by national legislation over much of its range. The species is recorded in a number of many national and sub national Red Data Books and Lists. New breeding sites for the species have been created in parts of its range (e.g., Hungary). Conservation measures needed include the removal of predatory fishes in mountain lakes, reduction of overgrazing in mountain pastures, and the restoration of traditional livestock troughs as breeding sites. There is an urgent need to conserve the unique paedomorphic mountain isolates of M. alpestris. In parts of the species range, mitigation measures to reduce road kill have been established.
Citation: Jan Willem Arntzen, Mathieu Denoël, Sergius Kuzmin, Vladimir Ishchenko, Pedro Beja, Franco Andreone, Robert Jehle, Per Nyström, Claude Miaud, Brandon Anthony, Benedikt Schmidt, Agnieszka Ogrodowczyk, Maria Ogielska, Jaime Bosch, Milan Vogrin, Miguel Tejedo 2009. Mesotriton alpestris. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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