Triturus cristatus (Laurenti, 1768)
Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU [B2a, D2], BDA-II, III; International: IUCN-LC, BeC-II, HD-II, IV.
General distribution. It is widely distributed in Europe: from Western France to Southwestern Siberia. The northern border is outlined by habitats in the southern half of the Scandinavian peninsula, in the southeast to 64° 20' eastern longitude. The southern border passes through Southern France, to the north of the Alps, habitats in Northeastern Serbia, Northwestern Bulgaria, Central Romania, Moldova, the Ukraine and the middle courses of the large rivers flowing into the Black Sea.
Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. Three sure habitats in the Western Balkan range and Vrachanski Balkan range, with total numbers not more than several hundred individuals. Their altitude is between 250 and 1400 m. The species was found in Bulgaria in 2005. The habitats are isolated from those in Serbia and Romania and are the southernmost in the area of the species.
Habitats. It spends the water phase in water basins different in size, weakly overgrown with underwater vegetation. The dry ground phase it probably spends in the forest regions near the water basins. It prefers poorly flowing and standing waters, most frequently with depths of over 0,5 m .
Biology. Reproduction in Bulgaria is unstudied. In June, sub-adult individuals in the water phase are most frequently observed. In the other parts of the area the water phase continues from February to May. It lays 200 – 400 eggs, rarely more (a chromosome anomaly discontinues the development of half of the eggs) .
Similar species. T. karelinii, from which it differs with its shorter limbs and the darker colours of the neck with small white and yellow dots. T. dobrogicus, from which it differs with the shorter limbs and the less markedly spotted belly.
Negative factors. Unstudied. A negative influence is probably exercised by industrial pollution, destruction and drying up of the water basins, and especially the introduction of rapacious species of fish. The influence of natural factors such as overgrowth, the decrease of the water level and eutrophication are usually of secondary importance.
Conservation measures taken. Two of the habitats fall within the territory of the natural park Vrachanski Balkan.
Conservation measures needed. Strict measures for protecting the habitats known so far and studying the potential water basins located nearby in which finding the species is possible.
References. 1. Arntzen, 2003.
Authors: Nikolai Tzankov, Andrej Stojanov