Triturus vittatus (Jenyns 1835) Banded Newt; Crested Newt
Hebrew name: טריטון פסים, triton pasim
Global Threat: NE – Not Evaluated
Regional Threat: CR (A1c) – Critically Endangered
Distribution area: Israel is the southernmost limit of the species distribution area. The Israeli subspecies is T. v. vittatus. It is found in the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee, Ramot Menashe (the densest population) and the Coastal Plain south, down to the Ashqelon latitude line.
Historic distribution: Wadi Rubin (lower Nahal Soreq), En Bida (Bodenheimer 1926), Miqwe Yisra’el, the Sharon, Yizre’el Valley (Mendelssohn & Steinitz 1944), and the Upper Galilee (Degani 1982, Degani & Mendelssohn 1983). It has become extinct in the Hula Valley and the Gaza Strip (Mendelssohn & Steinitz 1944).
Typical Habitat: Tadpoles develop in winter pools, springs, slow flowing streams and roadside channels. Adults burrow in the ground in summer, and are found under rocks close to water bodies and inside the water in winter. The activity period is shorter on the Coastal Plain than in the Upper Galilee or on Mt. Hermon (Geffen et al. 1987).
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Habitat destruction.
2. Water source pollution.
3. Habitat fragmentation.
Population Size: The adult population is estimated at a few thousand. Between 10 and 20 breeding sites were found in the Coastal Plain and Ramot Menashe in the late 1990s (Gafny & Gasith unpubl.). Eight water bodies with tadpoles were found in the Galilee and Golan (Degani & Kaplan 1999).
Fluctuations in Population Size: The number of breeding sites in Israel has decreased by over 70% in the past 10 years, which indicates a similar decrease in the number of populations.
Isolation Between Subpopulations: There is no continuity between the central (Coastal plane and Ramot Menashe') and the northern (Galilee and Golan) populations.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation: Protecting winter pools, springs and streams with clean water from drying up, pesticide spraying and pollution. Excavating artificial pools in protected sites.