Suitability of the Photographic Identification Method as a Tool to Identify the Endangered Yellow Spotted Newt, Neurergus microspilotus (Caudata: Salamandridae)

Mozafar Sharifi, Babak Naderi, Reza Hashemi



The authorship is disputed between two team of the authors:

  1. Mozafar Sharifi, Babak Naderi, Reza Hashemi
  2. Mozafar Sharifi, Babak Naderi, Mohsen Takesh, Reza Hashemi, Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyani, Robert Browne.

The final decision will be taken by the RJH after investigation of this case.

In order to develop a non-invasive method for recognizing the yellow spotted mountain newt (Neurergus microspilotus) we investigated the use of the pattern of distribution of the yellow spots on the head and shoulder using a photographic identification procedure. Visual judgment of two expert observers (authors 1, 2) in the field and also 6 postgraduate students (nave observers) comparing live newts with a set of photographs taken from the newts in laboratory showed that spots on head and shoulder of this species are highly polymorphic and individually distinguishable. In three field trips 8 out of 67 adult N. microspilotus previously photographed were identified. In laboratory, suitability of the photographic identification method to recognize individual newt was validated by comparing five live newts with 67 photos taken from the field (false recognition) and a single duplicate photo compared with the 67 photos (true recognition). In all trials the mean success rate in photographic identification based on mis-matching (false recognition) was 99.1% ranging from 95.5 to 100%. Assessment of accuracy of photo-identification method by matching photographs (true recognition) yielded 99.51% success rate. Moreover, a complete spatial randomness (CSR) test was conducted using the finite nearest neighbors method for the spots over the head and shoulder of individuals showed a reasonable match with the Poisson distribution indicating that spots are distinguishable random markings appropriate to be used in a photographic identification method.


yellow spotted newt; Neurergus microspilotus; photo-identification method

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