Notophthalmus meridionalis - (Cope, 1880)
Black-spotted Newt
Other English Common Names: black-spotted newt
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Notophthalmus meridionalis (Cope, 1880) (TSN 173617)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101904
Element Code: AAAAF01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Salamanders
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Caudata Salamandridae Notophthalmus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B85FRO01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Notophthalmus meridionalis
Taxonomic Comments: See Reilly (1990) for information on phylogenetic relationships of the 3 species of NOTOPHTHALMUS.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 05May2004
Global Status Last Changed: 30Oct2001
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Massive habitat alteration and destruction has occurred within the historical range in Texas and Mexico; breeding sites are localized and patchy; low abundance.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (05Nov1996)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Texas (S2)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: EN - Endangered

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This species occurs along the Gulf Coastal Plain, from south of the San Antonio River in Texas southward along the Atlantic versant to Tamaulipas, northern Veracruz, and southeastern San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It has never been found more than 130 km inland. It occurs from sea level to 800 m.

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Many historical occurrences are no longer extant. USFWS survey in mid-1980s reported 5 localities, 2 in Texas and 3 in Mexico, of 221 surveyed. The localities in Mexico are few and far between, and it now seems to be absent from two of the three known localities in Mexico. It still exists in Siberia in northern Veracruz.

Population Size: Unknown
Population Size Comments: The species has never been found to be abundant at any locality. A maximum of 25 individuals found at one site.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Extensive habitat alteration in Texas and northeastern Mexico has had a severe impact on this newt. It has become endangered in Texas due to insecticide and herbicide use (Dixon 1987). Water pollution is also a major problem in Mexico.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Apparently still declining in Texas (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999). The populations in Mexico also seem to be very small and declining, but more field work is needed to verify the status of the species there.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Once rather common in Texas, now seldom seen (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Narrow to moderate.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Potential habitat needs to be inventoried at optimal times of the year (early spring or after rains).

Protection Needs: Identify, characterize, and protect occurrences.

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) This species occurs along the Gulf Coastal Plain, from south of the San Antonio River in Texas southward along the Atlantic versant to Tamaulipas, northern Veracruz, and southeastern San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It has never been found more than 130 km inland. It occurs from sea level to 800 m.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States TX

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: IUCN, Conservation International, NatureServe, and collaborators, 2004


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
TX Aransas (48007)*, Cameron (48061), Hidalgo (48215)*, Kenedy (48261), Kleberg (48273), McMullen (48311), Nueces (48355)*, Refugio (48391)*, San Patricio (48409)*, Willacy (48489)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
12 Aransas Bay (12100405)+*, Aransas (12100407)+*, Middle Nueces (12110105)+, San Fernando (12110204)+, Baffin Bay (12110205)+, Central Laguna Madre (12110207)+, South Laguna Madre (12110208)+
13 Los Olmos (13090001)+*, Lower Rio Grande (13090002)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A salamander with large black spots and irregular yellowish stripes.
General Description: A newt with large black spots on the dorsum and venter, rough skin, irregular yellowish dorsal stripes, and an orange venter (Conant and Collins 1991).
Diagnostic Characteristics: The large black spots and yellowish stripes distinguish this species from NOTOPHTHALMUS VIRIDESCENS.
Reproduction Comments: Apparently no distinct breeding season; depends on availability of water; may peak in spring (Garrett and Barker 1987). Larvae appear a few weeks after egg laying, metamorphose after about 3 months (Garrett and Barker 1987). No eft stage.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, Pool
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian, TEMPORARY POOL
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Adults, juveniles, and larvae inhabit permanent and temporary ponds, roadside ditches, and quiet stream pools, habitats that are relatively uncommon in at least the northern part of the range. It is usually found among submerged vegetation (e.g., Chara). It is found under rocks and other shelter when ponds dry up. The eggs are attached to submerged vegetation in shallow water (Garrett and Barker 1987).
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats various of small aquatic animals (insects, leeches, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, and small amphibians and their eggs) (Garrett and Barker 1987).
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Apparently active throughout the year. Easiest to find in early spring or after rains.
Length: 11 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Research is needed on demography, water quality requirements of aquatic stages, terrestrial habitat requirements, and diet.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Salamandrids (Newts)

Use Class: Not applicable
Subtype(s): Breeding Pond
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including larvae or eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Mapping Guidance: Occurrences should include aquatic/wetland habitat and known occupied upland habitat (if any), but occurrences based on observations/captures of individuals in aquatic/wetland habitat should include only the known distribution of the population and not include large areas of upland habitat (not known to be occupied) that may extend between occupied aquatic/wetland habitat within the appropriate separation distances.
Separation Barriers: Heavily traveled road, especially with high traffic volume at night; urban area dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Although newts may cross roads successfully during breeding migrations, though often with high mortality, it is likely that broad, high-speed transportation corridors such as interstate highways normally serve as functional barriers.

Both Ashton (1998) and Johnson (2001) reported that striped newts (N. perstriatus) may cross highly disturbed land, such as the cleared and bedded soils of some silvicultural site preparations, although they did not note that such sites could sustain the species. Similarly, other newt species readily traverse large areas of disturbed upland and wetland habitat.

Although population genetic data are unavailable to document the existence or importance of interdemic migration for N. perstriatus (potentially important to the reestablishment of locally extirpated populations), individuals may move more than 800 meters from breeding ponds to terrestrial home ranges (Dodd 1993, Johnson 1998, Dodd and Cade 1998). Sixteen percent of individuals in a large population studied by Johnson (2001) moved more than 500 meters into uplands. Red-bellied newts may travel a mile (1.6 km) or more between breeding sites and upland habitat (Twitty 1966). Further, there is strong likelihood that newts breeding in a proximate series of ponds function as a metapopulation (principal EO; Johnson 1998, 2001).

Given that newts exhibit good mobility and longevity, it seems unlikely that occupied locations separated by a gap of less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent independent occurrences over the long term.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Jackson, D. R., and G. Hammerson. Separation distance by G. Hammerson.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 05May2004
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Wahl, R., and G. Hammerson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 31Mar1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Allen, C. R., S. Demarais, and R. S. Lutz. 1994. Red imported fire ant impact on wildlife: an overview. The Texas Journal of Science 46(1):51-59.

  • Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999a. A field guide to Texas reptiles & amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. xviii + 331 pp.

  • Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999b. A field guide to Florida reptiles and amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. xvi + 278 pp.

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 719 pp.

  • Blackburn, L., P. Nanjappa, and M. J. Lannoo. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Copyright, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA.

  • Conant, R. and J. T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians: eastern and central North America. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts. 450 pp.

  • DIXON, JAMES R. 1987. AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF TEXAS, WITH KEYS, TAXONOMIC SYNOPSES, BIBLIOGRAPHY, AND DISTRIBUTION MAPS. TEXAS A& M UNIV. PRESS, COLLEGE STATION. xii + 434 pp.

  • Dixon, J. R. 1987. Amphibians and reptiles of Texas. Texas A & M Univ. Press, College Station. xii + 434 pp.

  • Dixon, J. R. 2000. Amphibians and reptiles of Texas. Second edition. Texas A & M University Press, College Station. 421 pp.

  • Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.

  • GARRETT, JUDITH M. AND DAVID G. BARKER. 1987. A FIELD GUIDE TO REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS OF TEXAS. TEXAS MONTHLY PRESS, AUSTIN. xi + 225 pp.

  • Garrett, J. M., and D. G. Barker. 1987. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Texas. Texas Monthly Press, Austin, Texas. 225 pp.

  • Judd, F.W. 1985. Status of Siren intermedia texana, Notophthalmus meridionalis, and Crotaphytus reticulatus. Final report, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cooperative Agreement No. 14-16-0002-81-923 Modification NO. 1, Pan American University 60 PP.

  • Mecham, J.S. 1968. Notophthalmus meridionalis. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 74:1-2.

  • Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

  • RAPPOLE, JOHN H. AND JOHN KLICKA. 1991. STATUS OF THE BLACK-SPOTTED NEWT (NOTOPHTHALMUS MERIDIONALIS) IN TEXAS AND MEXICO. FINAL REPORT, CONTRACT NO. 14-16-0002-86927, 4, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, ALBUQUERQUE. 74 PP.

  • Reilly, S. M. 1990. Biochemical systematics and evolution of the eastern North American newts, genus NOTOPHTHALMUS (Caudata: Salamandridae). Herpetologica 46:51-59.

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