The Metamorphosis in Triturus vittatus ophryticus and Triturus carnifex: Two Different Life Histories

Stefano Gozzo, Rita Casetti, Alessandra Taglioni, Monica Meloni, Vincenzo Monaco


Some developmental parameters in the larval, climax and postmetamorphic stages of Triturus vittatus ophryticus and Triturus carnifex were compared in order to identify interspecific differences within the genus Triturus. Seventy larvae from each investigated species were reared in the same experimental conditions from hatching to the postmetamorphic stage. Biometric (body weights, total body lengths, snout-vent lengths) and histological data (density of epidermic glands) were collected in ten specimens randomly chosen after hatching, from thirty days old larvae, at climax and at the first postmetamorphic stage. Dry-substrate migration trend in the first postmetamorphic life was also estimated. Higher developmental rates attained during metamorphosis, smaller body size in the climax and in the first postmetamorphic stages, higher dry-substrate migration pattern and lower glandular density in the skin were observed in Triturus vittatus ophryticus when compared to Triturus carnifex. Our data show remarkably differences of the developmental patterns in Triturus vittatus ophryticus and Triturus carnifex. The observed differences are correlated and discussed, taking into account some ethological peculiarities of the two species.


genus Triturus; Triturus vittatus ophryticus; Triturus carnifex; metamorphosis; life history; thyroid glands

Full Text:



Arntzen J. W. and Sparreboom M. (1989), «A phylogeny for the Old World newts, genus Triturus: biochemical and behavioural data», J. Zool. Lond., 219, 645 – 664.

Bannikov A. G., Darevsky I. S., Ischenko V. G., Rustamov A. K., and Szcherbak N. N. (1977), Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of the USSR, Prosveshchenie, Moscow, pp. 11 – 66 [in Russian].

Beccari N. and Mazzi V. (1972), «Fissazione dei tessuti», in: Manuale di tecnica microscopica, Vallardi, Milano, p. 43.

Berven K. A. (1982a), «The genetic basis of altitudinal variation in the wood frog Rana sylvatica. II. An experimental analysis of larval development», Oecologia, 52, 360 – 369.

Berven K. A. (1982b), «The genetic basis of altitudinal variation in the wood frog Rana sylvatica. I. An experimental analysis of life history traits», Evolution, 36(5), 962 – 983.

Berven K. A., Gill D. E., and Smith-Gill S. J. (1979), «Countergradient selection in the green frog, Rana clamitans», Evolution, 33(2), 609 – 623.

Bizer J. R. (1978), «Growth rates and size at metamorphosis of high elevation populations of Ambystoma tigrinum», Oecologia, 34, 175 – 184.

Bolkay St. J. (1928), «Die Schädel der Salamandrinen mit besonderer Rücksicht, auf ihre systematische Bedeutung», Zeitsch. Anat. Entw. München, Berlin, (1 Abt.) 86(3/4), 259 – 319.

Bucci-Innocenti S., Ragghianti M., and Mancino G. (1983), «Investigations of karyology and hybrids in Triturus boscai and T. vittatus, with a reinterpretation of the species groups within Triturus (Caudata: Salamandridae)», Copeia, 3, 662 – 672.

Busack S. D., Jericho B. G., Maxson L. R., and Uzzell T. (1988), «Evolutionary relationship of salamanders in the genus Triturus: the view from immunology», Herpetologica, 44(3), 307 – 316.

Degani G. and Mendelssohn H. (1983), «The habitats, distribution and life history of Triturus vittatus vittatus (jenyns) in the mount meron area (upper Galilee, Israel)», Br. J. Herpetol., 6, 317 – 319.

Galgano M. (1945), «Il ciclo sessuale annuale in Triturus cristatus carnifex (Laur)», in: N. Beccari (ed.), Archivio italiano di Anatomia e di Embriologia, Ditta editrice Luigi Niccolai, Firenze, Vol. L, pp. 21.

Golubev N. S. (1982), «Data on Ecology of Triturus vittatus», Ékologiya, 1, 83 – 84 [in Russian].

Gozzo S. and Cantuti-Castelvetri I. (1988), «Forebrain development in control and hypothyroid larvae of Triturus cristatus carnifex», Int. J. Neurosci., 38, 299 – 309.

Gozzo S., Perretta G., Andreozzi U., and Monaco V. (1992), «Neuropathology in the urodele Triturus cristatus induced by trimethyltin», Toxicol. Lett. Suppl. 1992, 280.

Gozzo S., Perretta G., Andreozzi U., Monaco V., and Rossiello E. (1994), «Neuropathology induced by trimethyltin in the central nervous system of the urodele Triturus cristatus», Aquatic Toxicol., 30(1), 1 – 11.

Gozzo S., Taglioni. A., Casetti R., Meloni M., Bagnoli C., and Monaco V. (1996), «Supernumerary thyroid glands of Pleurodeles waltl (Caudata, Salamandridae)», Italian J. Zool., 63, 207 – 214.

Gozzo S., Taglioni A., Casetti R., Bagnoli C., and Monaco V. (1997), «Postmetamorphic development of supernumerary thyroid glands in Pleurodeles waltl», J. Herpetol., 31, 93 – 98.

Grant W. C., Jr., and Cooper G. I. (1964), «Endocrine control of metamorphic and skin changes in Diemictylus viridescens», Am. Zool., 4, 413 – 414.

Grant W. C., Jr., and Cooper G. I. (1965), «Behavioral and integumentary changes associated with induced metamorphosis in Diemictylus», Biol. Bull., 129, 510 – 522.

Halliday T. R. (1974), «Sexual behaviour of the smooth newt, Triturus vulgaris (Urodela, Salamandridae)», J. Herpetol., 8, 277 – 292.

Halliday T. R. (1975a), «An observational and experimental study of sexual behaviour in the smooth newt, Triturus vulgaris (Amphibia, Salamandridae)», Anim. Behav., 23, 291 – 322.

Halliday T. R. (1975b), «On the biological significance of certain morphological characters in males of the Smooth newt Triturus vulgaris and of the Palmate newt Triturus helveticus (Urodela: Salamandridae)», Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 56, 291 – 300.

Halliday T. R. (1977), «The courtship of European newts: an evolutionary perspective», in: D. H. Taylor and S. I. Guttman (eds.), The Reproductive Biology of Amphibians, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 185 – 232.

Hensley F. (1993), «Ontogenetic loss of phenotypic plasticity of age at metamorphosis in tadpoles», Ecology, 74(8), 2405 – 2412.

Huxley J. (1929), «Thyroid and temperature in cold-blooded vertebrates», Nature, 123, 712.

Lantz L. (1912), «Beitrag zur biologie von Molge (= Triton) villata Gray forma ophrytica Berthold», Blätter Aquar.-Terrar.-Kde. Stuttgart, 23, 182 – 188.

Macgregor H. C., Sessions S. K., and Arntzen J. W. (1980), «An integrative analysis of phylogenetic relationships among newts of the genus Triturus (family Salamandridae), using comparative biochemestry, cytogenetics and reproductive interactions», J. Evol. Biol., 3, 329 – 373.

Morescalchi A. (1994), «Environmental crisis, adaptations and genome in amphibians», Boll. Zool., 61, 403 – 407.

Norris D. O. (1985), «The thyroid gland», in: Vertebrate Endocrinology, Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia, pp. 162 – 201.

Pyastolova O. A. and Tarkhnishvili D. N. (1989), The Ecology of Onthogenesis of Caudata and the Problem of Species Coexinstence, Sverdlovsk, p. 156 [in Russian].

Rafinski J. and Arntzen J. W. (1987), «Biochemical systematics of the Old World newts, genus Triturus: allozyme data», Herpetologica, 43, 446 – 457.

Raxworthy C. J. (1989), «Courtship, fighting and sexual dimorphism of the banded newt, Triturus vittatus ophryticus», Ethology, 81, 148 – 170.

Shaffer H. B. (1984a), «Evolution in a paedomorphic lineage. I. An electrophoretic analysis of the Mexican ambystomatid salamanders», Evolution, 38, 1194 – 1206.

Shaffer H. B. (1984b), «Evolution in a paedomorphic lineage. II. Allometry and form in the Mexican ambystomatid salamanders», Evolution, 38, 1207 – 1218.

Smith-Gill S. J. and Berven K. A. (1979), «Predicting amphibian metamorphosis», The Am. Naturalist, 113(4), 563 – 585.

Smith-Gill S. J. (1983), «Developmental plasticity: developmental conversion versus phenotypic modulation», Am. Zool., 23, 47 – 55.

Sprules W. G. (1974), «The adaptive significance of paedogenesis in North American species of Ambystoma (Amphibia: Caudata): an hypothesis», Can. J. Zool., 52, 393 – 398.

Teyssedre C. and Halliday T. (1986), «Cumulative effect of male’s displays in the sexual behaviour on the Smooth newt Triturus vulgaris (Urodela, Salamandridae)», Ethology, 71, 89 – 102.

Thorn R. (1968), Les salamandres d’Europe, d’Asie et d’Afrique du Nord, Lechavalier, Paris.

Travis J. (1981), «Control of larval growth variation in a population of Pseudacris triseriata (Anura: Hylidae)», Evolution, 35(3), 423 – 432.

Tuniev B. S. (1982), «K razmnozheniyu maloaziatskogo tritona», Vestn. Zool., 3, 69 – 70 [in Russian].

Uhlenhuth E. (1919), «Relationship between metamorphosis and other developmental phenomena in Amphibia», J. Gen. Physiol., 1, 525 – 544.

Wake D. B. and Özeti N. (1969), «Evolutionary relationship in the family Salamandridae», Copeia, 1, 124 – 137.

Wallis G. P. and Arntzen J. W. (1989), «Mitochondrial DNA variation in the crested newt superspecies: limited cytoplasmic gene flow among species», Evolution (Lawrence, Kans.), 43, 88 – 104.

Werner E. E. (1986), «Amphibian metamorphosis: growth rate, predation risk, and the optimal size at transformation», The Am. Naturalist, 128(3), 319 – 341.

Wilbur H. M. and Collins J. P. (1973), «Ecological aspects of amphibian metamorphosis», Science, 182, 1305 – 1314.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

You can subscribe to the print or electronic version of the journal on the site of EastView Company. If you have any questions, please write to the email