Tylototriton verrucosus in the wild (Plus other amphibs) N. Thailand

froggy

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I recently returned from Chiang Mai Province, in Northern Thailand where I spent two and a bit weeks looking for amphibians in Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary and Doi Inthanon National Park. We found T. verrucosus (at least, verrucosus according to Nussbaum and Brodie 1995) in both parks, where they are said to be very scarce. In Chiang Dao, the newts are limited to a few small habitats of only a few hundred square metres, whereas those in Doi Inthanon seem to be scattered very sparsely over a wide range. There is little or no ecological data on these populations, so no one really knows how many are there or how big their habitats really are.

In Chiang Dao, we found the newts in two out of three known populations (the third is very hard to access and find), where they inhabit areas of low scrubby vegetation, such as grasses and bamboo. They breed in small silted ponds with little or no truelly aquatic vegetation at the beginning of the wet season. I could only get photos of one of the two localities in Chiang Dao as the second was visited at night during heavy rain. In one locality, many male animals were collected in ponds, but no females were found. In the other, we searched for animals during the day on land and found a mix of males and females beneath the cut grass.

In Doi Inthanon, we found only a single female wandering on a grass verge at night.
 

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froggy

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more photos

In both localities, we found the newts at elevati.ons of aroun 1200m above sea level.
The animal shown in this post is the single female from Doi Inthanon, and the group photo is of the large number of males found in the pond at Chiang Dao

At Doi Inthanon, there is a conservation facility where they breed a number of amphibians and fish, including T. verrucosus, for release into the wild and also ecological studies. The tanks were very very simple, just shallow water and some rocks, and the diet was solely mealworms, but they had been breeding for 15 years and most animals were only in captivity for a short while (say a year or two) before release. The problem is that no-one really knows if the efforts are boosting the wild population....
 

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froggy

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the other amphibians

we found some other amphibians while in the parks. In Doi Inthanon, we found two endemic species; Ansonia inthanon (the Inthanon Stream Toad) and Schmacker's frog (Rana schmackeri); along with a Microhyla sp., Amolops marmoratus (Northern Cascade frog) and also Ichthyophis kohtaoensis (Koh Tao Caecilian.
The habitat photos in the next post are those where we found the frogs (except the microhylid); the microhyla and the caecilian were found in the same area as the Tylototriton.

In Chiang Dao we found a species or two (I am not sure if the striped animal is just a variant or not) of Big-head frogs (Limnonectes sp.). The brown one is definately L. kuhli.
 

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wouter

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Chris, extremely interesting, I wish I was there too. Were the terrestrial ones just resting under heaps of cut grass? There is almost nothing known about terrestrial habits of Tylototriton. Also, did you take any temp., pH, etc from the ponds?

I recently heard that a student from Thailand is researching phylogenetics of the whole Tylototriton verrucosus complex there. I hope that his results can support better conservation of the species, and lead to some splitting of the species.

Also thanks for the pics of the other amphibians; pics of Megophryidae are also highly appriciated ;)
 

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last one

finally, the Amolops and the habitat shots


Just to clarify pictures:
Post 1: (going from left to right):
1-6: T. verrucosus in Chiang Dao
7-8: habitat/pond of T. verrucosus in Chiang Dao

Post2:
1-2: the other pond in the same area of Chiang Dao used by T. verrucosus
3: males collected from the other, unphotographed, pond in Chiang Dao
4-5: female found in Doi Inthanon
6-8: breeding facility in Doi Inthanon

Post 3:
1-2: Limnonectes khuli and sp.
3-5: Ichthyophis kohtaoensis
6: Microhyla sp.
7: Rana schmackeri
8:Ansonia inthanon

Post 4:
1: Amolops marmoratus
2-3: habitat of Amolops, Ansonia (sorry - the Rana was from the same place as the microhyla)
4: habitat (with our tents) of Microhyla sp and Rana schmackeri in Doi Inthanon; this is pine forested campsite; the animals were in slightly more mixed habitat with a bit of bamboo as well as the pines, particularly around water courses. Aparently the newts also wander into this area sometimes.
 

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franceschino

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Very interesting pictures! It's rare to see pictures of tylototriton habitat on the net.
What were the temperatures there during your stay? And like Wouter said, where did you find the terrestrial ones?
Francesco
 

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Thanks, Chris! That was a very interesting post. Good to see these verrucosus in their wild habitats.
 

froggy

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The terrestrial animals were just undfer small amounts of rotting grass. The air temps were quite cool (I will email the research team to find out specifics at some point); it was probably around 18-20C air temp, with high humidity. I took loads of different readings from the ponds - I will post them later when I get home.
The water was probably around 18C, but that is an estimate as I didn't have a thermometer (airports staff thought it could be a hazardous item) - it was comfortable to wade around in at night - .....I will check with the people I went with to see if they would agree.

It was certainly a great trip, and I would like to have spent more time in the parks (we only had 2 nights in each).
 

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Hi Chris,

Excellant shots and descriptions. The next time you can take one of the little infrared instant read thermometers. They have come down to between $20 and $30 and should pass right through the airport (I was pulled aside searched due to banana bread... apparently loaves of homemade banana bread look like some kind of explosive on the x-ray machine).

Ed
 

John

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Chris I highly urge you to copyright your photos before posting them. I am quite keen to swap out copyrighted versions for the ones you've posted. This is for your benefit in case there's any confusion.

Now, my reaction: we are most certainly not worthy! This kind of information is what I love to see and people like you Chris make this site the place it is through your awesome posts and your kind donations. Thank you so much for making my day with this thread.

I don't have a lot of observations to offer but I think you allude to one important thing in your first post - these animals aren't the "dark" T. verrucosus (specifically like the ones you got from me). I have been hoping that someone would look into this in a scientific manner and from what Wouter says it seems to be under way, at least on a small scale.

Again, thank you so much, this made my day.
 

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Awesome, its not that often you get to see field photos of newts from Asia.
 
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wouter

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Chris, I'm very interested in the data, maybe stuff for a publication? Its really valuable data, at least for us Tylo-fanatics.

It's very interesting indeed; John, "your" original dark variant does have more similarities to the small dark variant that Mark currently breeds, but the offspring of these animals can be both light and dark coloured. I also see two quite different coloured (dark and light) individuals on Chris' photos from Chiang Mai.

In the past years we learned that all the variants in the hobby are in fact overlapping in colour, size etc., the variation (I expect also within populations) is just too large to be able to describe real variants of T. verrucosus. Chris' photos, and a discussion we had here a few months ago about the "light" variant that just seems to be a variant of the "dark" variant (now its getting complicated ;)) just add to this idea. I also remember the shanjing-form of a few years ago, and a small publication about a probable new Tylototriton sp. in Nepal, which turned out to be a light variant.

There is however quite some difference in skull morphology in some variants Mark and I kept, and some populations in the range (NO Thailand, Laos) really look different. Phylogeography of all Tylo's will most likely show new species; like Chris said, they are almost all longtime-isolated on mountains. Let's wait and see...
 

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John - thanks for the tips (it hadn't occurred to me!) - if you could swap them (as you seem to indicate you would be able to) I would be grateful, otherwise I will do it. Do I just add a (c) Chris Michaels? Thanks as well for your compliments! I feel that its good to put into the site the amount of good things I get out of it.
The temperatures may have been a little warmer, in the end, maybe 22-23 ish. Damn airport staff...

OK - pH etc:

pH : 6.4
KH: 3 o
GH: <3 o
NO3-(mg/l): 0
NO2- (mg/l): 0

These were the same in all three pools we visited. It was surprising that the nitrites/trates were so low considering the amount of silt and lack of aquatic plants. It may be due to the bamboo/forest around removing nutrients from the water table.

We were in the area at the beginning of the wet season; I was told that the newts allegedly breeed at the beginning of the wet season (so the males must come to ponds first as we found 10 males in one pool but no females).

Regarding morphology, these animals differ from the dark animals (apart from colour) in having much narrower, more prominent cranial ridges and dorso-lateral warts. The animal from Doi Inthanon was slightly different to my eyes too; darker and stockier than those from Chiang Dao; but we only found the one animal so its hard to tell if that was a general trait.
Also, in the 'Newt Nursery' where they bred the newts, there were some very light almost shanjing-like animals (I will post a pic later once I've added copyright stuff to it). These animals were more terrestrial too, but as the animals all came from wild stock out of Doi Inthanon and Shanjing is only known from Yunan, it is likely a lighter variant.

Interestingly, the males from Chiang Dao were on average longer than the females, but again only two females were found (a third escaped somehow...) so comparison i s not entirely reliable.

Would a table of measurements be useful to post here?

I took measurements from all the animals we collected, but unfortunately I didn't get a few of the ones used by Nussbaum and Brodie, so comparison is difficult. When I have time I will look at the dat more closely.

Where, and how would I go about, publishing this information? I don't feel it is quite complete enough to be useful yet. I am going to write to the Thai government body which keeps all the (daily) temperature readings from the research station in Chiang Dao, so soon I will have definate data.
 

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Regarding the photos: Email me or put on the net the photos you want to replace the current ones with and I'll do the swap. Just add the copyright you were suggesting, maybe with your email address.

Regarding publication: If you have enough data you might be able to get this into a minor journal but from a strictly scientific point of view I don't think there's much new data here that would get it into a good scientific journal (I'm not shooting you down here, I think it's great, but those journals live for novel info or novel studies). On the other hand, I'd love to base the next issue of Caudata.org magazine around an article by you on your trip. That magazine will appear this year. I'd also use a photo from your article as the cover. If you are willing, I can add at least 2 other serious "papers" to it, one by me. In fact an article like this is really all I need to go forward with editing the new issue because I have several articles hanging around that needed others to make an issue. What do you say?

John - thanks for the tips (it hadn't occurred to me!) - if you could swap them (as you seem to indicate you would be able to) I would be grateful, otherwise I will do it. Do I just add a (c) Chris Michaels? Thanks as well for your compliments! I feel that its good to put into the site the amount of good things I get out of it.
The temperatures may have been a little warmer, in the end, maybe 22-23 ish. Damn airport staff...

OK - pH etc:

pH : 6.4
KH: 3 o
GH: <3 o
NO3-(mg/l): 0
NO2- (mg/l): 0

These were the same in all three pools we visited. It was surprising that the nitrites/trates were so low considering the amount of silt and lack of aquatic plants. It may be due to the bamboo/forest around removing nutrients from the water table.

We were in the area at the beginning of the wet season; I was told that the newts allegedly breeed at the beginning of the wet season (so the males must come to ponds first as we found 10 males in one pool but no females).

Regarding morphology, these animals differ from the dark animals (apart from colour) in having much narrower, more prominent cranial ridges and dorso-lateral warts. The animal from Doi Inthanon was slightly different to my eyes too; darker and stockier than those from Chiang Dao; but we only found the one animal so its hard to tell if that was a general trait.
Also, in the 'Newt Nursery' where they bred the newts, there were some very light almost shanjing-like animals (I will post a pic later once I've added copyright stuff to it). These animals were more terrestrial too, but as the animals all came from wild stock out of Doi Inthanon and Shanjing is only known from Yunan, it is likely a lighter variant.

Interestingly, the males from Chiang Dao were on average longer than the females, but again only two females were found (a third escaped somehow...) so comparison i s not entirely reliable.

Would a table of measurements be useful to post here?

I took measurements from all the animals we collected, but unfortunately I didn't get a few of the ones used by Nussbaum and Brodie, so comparison is difficult. When I have time I will look at the dat more closely.

Where, and how would I go about, publishing this information? I don't feel it is quite complete enough to be useful yet. I am going to write to the Thai government body which keeps all the (daily) temperature readings from the research station in Chiang Dao, so soon I will have definate data.
 

froggy

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OK, I will email you the editted photos for you to replace.
It would be excellent to write up an article for the magazine - how long do youy want it?
I agree that there is not enough depth or novelty of information to have iny point in publishing in a major journal; the Caudata magazine would be the ideal medium, I think.

Chris
 

John

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Actually you could just upload the copyrighted images to the gallery and I can drop them into the current messages (would be more straightforward).

I'm glad to hear you like the article idea. As to length, I would say see what you can write, include as much pertinent info as you can (data you collected as well as any official data regarding climate, elevation, etc). Talk about it, see what it comes to. Don't worry too much if you're not very experienced in writing - we'll get it there.

And thank you!

-John

OK, I will email you the editted photos for you to replace.
It would be excellent to write up an article for the magazine - how long do youy want it?
I agree that there is not enough depth or novelty of information to have iny point in publishing in a major journal; the Caudata magazine would be the ideal medium, I think.

Chris
 

mikebenard

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This is a great post! Thanks for posting.
 

michael

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This is a very interesting thread. Their have been some supposedly w.c. Tylototriton verrocusus offered in the U.S. lately. When you look at the ones offered by the U.S. wholesaler they look like shanjing. I was certain the wholesaler was offering shanjing and just going by some old classification and calling it verrocusus. This wholesaler also labeled the sexes all opposite what they should be. Now it has me scratching my head. I'm still pretty sure some shanjing are being sold as verrocusus. It does seem that nothing is simple and the more you know the less you know.
 

John

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Well Michael, honestly I don't think there's much new basic knowledge here but that doesn't stop it being very interesting.
 

mantighoul

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Thanks for the field report, as this is my favourite specie of Tylototriton, I fully enjoyed reading about them in their natural habitat. Good luck with the study, and thanks for sharing the wonderful pictures and descriptions of habitat of the various populations you have documented. If you post more information I sure will be reading it!
Do you plan on researching on any populations of T.verrucosus besides the said populations in Northern Thailand?
 
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