Cover Image

Age Structure and Body Size of Mertensiella caucasica (Waga, 1876) (Caudata: Salamandridae) in a Population from Turkey

Nurettin Beşer, Aziz Avcı, Çetin Ilgaz, Sako B. Tuniyev, Boris S. Tuniyev, Nazan Üzüm


Here we present the age structure of a breeding Caucasian Salamander population from a high-altitude locality (Kazıkbeli Plateau, Kürtün, Gümüşhane; 2213 m a.s.l.). Age structure was analyzed by counting lines of arrested growth (LAG). Endosteal resorption raised difficulties of counting LAGs. Males were found to be average older than females. Range of age was from 5 to 11 years in males, 4 to 8 years in females and 1 to 3 years in juveniles. Snout-vent length (SVL) of each individual was used as body size and mean values were recorded as 64.24 mm in males, 58.45 mm in females, and 44.60 mm in juveniles. Difference of SVL between sexes was found statistically significant. Meanwhile, male-biased sexual dimorphism was calculated (SDI = –0.099). The SVL was correlated with age in both sexes as strongly positive.


skeletochronology; longevity; growth; Caucasian Salamander

Full Text:



Altunışık A., Ergül Kalaycı T., Gül Ç., Özdemir N., and Tosunoğlu M. (2014), «A skeletochronological study of the smooth newt Lissotriton vulgaris (Amphibia: Urodela) from an island and a mainland population in Turkey», Ital. J. Zool., 81, 381 – 388.

Andersson M. (1994), Sexual Selection, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton.

Baran İ. and Atatür M. K. (1998), Turkish Herpetofauna (Amphibians and Reptiles), Republic of Turkish Ministry of Environment, Ankara.

Baran İ., Ilgaz Ç., Avcı A., Kumlutaş Y., and Olgun K. (2012), Türkiye Amfibi ve Sürüngenleri, Tübitak Popüler Bilim Kitapları. Vol. 207, Ankara [in Turkish].

Başkale E., Yıldırım E., Çevik I. E., and Kaya U. (2013), «Population size and age structure of metamorphic and pedomorphic forms of Ommatotriton ophryticus (Berthold, 1846) in the Northwestern Black Sea Region of Turkey», J. Herpetol., 47(2), 270 – 276.

Başoğlu M., Özeti N., and Yılmaz İ. (1996), Türkiye Amfibileri [The Amphibians of Turkey ], Ege Üniversitesi Fen Fakültesi Kitaplar Serisi, No. 151, İzmir [in Turkish].

Bovero S., Angelini C., and Utzeri C. (2006), «Aging Salamandra perspicillata (Salvi, 1821) by skeletochronology», Acta Herpetol., 1(2), 153 – 158.

Caetano M. H. and Castanet J. (1993), «Variability and microevolutionary patterns in Triturus marmoratus from Portugal: age, size, longevity and individual growth», Amphibia–Reptilia, 14, 117 – 12.

Castanet J., Meunier F. S., and de Ricqles A. (1977), «L’enregistrement de la croissance cyclique Par Le tissue asseux chez les vertébrés poikilothermes données comparatives et essai de synthese», Bull. Biol. Fr. Belg. T. 1, 111, 183 – 202.

Castanet J. and Smirina E. M. (1990), «Introduction to the skeletochronological method in amphibians and reptiles», Ann. Sci. Nat. Zool., 11, 191 – 196.

Cogàlniceanu D. and Miaud C. (2003), «Population age structure and growth in four syntopic amphibian species inhabiting a large river floodplain», Can. J. Zool., 81, 1096 – 1106.

Esteban M., Garcia-Paris M., and Castanet J. (1996), «Use of bone histology in estimating the age of frogs (Rana perezi) from a warm temperate climate area», Can. J. Zool., 74, 1914 – 1921.

Esteban M., Garcia-Paris M., and Castanet J. (1999), «Bone growth and age in Rana saharica, a water frog living in a desert environment», Ann. Zool. Fenn., 36, 53 – 62.

Esteban M., Sanches-Herraiz M. J., Barbadillo L. J., and Castanet J. (2004), «Age structure and growth in an isolated population of Pelodytes punctatus in northern Spain», J. Nat. Hist., 38, 2789 – 2801.

Guarino F. M. and Erismis U. C. (2008), «Age determination and growth by skeletochronology of Rana holtzi, an endemic frog from Turkey», Ital. J. Zool., 75(3), 237 – 242.

Guarino F. M. (2010), «Structure of the femora and autotomous (postpygal) caudal vertebrae in the three-toed skink Chalcides chalcides (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae) and its applicability for age and growth rate determination», Zool. Anz., 248, 273 – 283.

Frost D. R., Grant T., Faivovich J., Baýn R. H., Haas A., Haddad C. F. B., De Sa R. O., Channing A., Wilkinson M., Donnellan S. C., Raxworthy C. J., Campbell J. A., Blotto B. L., Moler P., Drewes R. C., Nussbaum R. A., Lynch J. D., Green D. M., and Wheeler W. C. (2006), «The Amphibian tree of life», Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297.

Halliday T. R. and Verrel P. A. (1986), «Review: sexual selection and body size in amphibians», Herpetol. J., 1, 86 – 92.

Halliday T. R. and Verrel P. A. (1988), «Body size and age in amphibians and reptiles», J. Herpetol., 20, 570 – 574.

Han X. and Fu J. (2013), «Does life history shape sexual size dimorphism in anurans? A comparative analysis», Han Fu BMC Evol. Biol., 2013. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-13-27

Kaya U., Tuniyev B., Ananjeva N., Orlov N., Papernfuss T., Kuzmin S., Tarkhnishvili D., Tuniyev S., Sparreboom M., Ugurtas İ., and Anderson S. (2009), «Mertensiella caucasica», The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 2009, e.T13198A3418986. DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T13198A3418986.en (downloaded on 19 February 2016).

Knonsue W., Chaiananporn T., and Pomchote P. (2010), «Skeletochronological assessment of age in the Himalayan crocodile newt, Tylototriton verrucosus (Anderson, 1871) from Thailand», Tropical Nat. Hist., 10(2), 181 – 188.

Kolarov N. T., Ljubisavljevic K., Polovic L., Dzukic G., and Kalezic M. L. (2010), «The body size, age structure and growth pattern of the endemic Balkan Mosor Rock Lizard (Dinarolacerta mosorensis, Kolombatović, 1886)», Acta Zool. Acad. Sci. Hung., 56(1), 55 – 71

Krebs C. J., Keller B. L., and Tamarin R. H. (1969), «Microtus population biology: demographic changes in fluctuating population of M. ochrogaster and M. pennsylvanicus in Southern Indiana», Ecology, 50(4), 587 – 607.

Kupfer A. (2007), Sexual Size Dimorphism in Amphibians: an Overview, Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford.

Kyriakopoulou-Sklavounou P., Stylianou P., and Tsiora A. (2008), «Skeletochronological study of age, growth and longevity in a population of the frog Rana ridibunda from southern Europe», Sci. Direct Zool., 111, 30 – 36.

Lima V., Arntzen J. W., and Ferrand N. M. (2000), «Age structure and growth pattern in two populations of the golden-striped salamander Chioglossa lusitanica (Caudata, Salamandridae)», Amphibia–Reptilia, 22, 55 – 68.

Lovich J. E. and Gibbons J. W. (1992), «A review of techniques for quantifying sexual size dimorphism», Growth Devel. Aging, 56, 269 – 281.

Makovicky P., Kopecky O., Makovicky P., and Matlach R. (2015), «The using of skeletochronology as a screening method for age determination of Alpine newts (Mesotriton alpestris): a technical report», Acta Univ. Agricult. Silvicult. Mendel. Brunensis, 63, 439 – 446

Miaud C., Joly P., and Castanet J. (1993), Variation of age structures in a subdivided population of Triturus cristatus. Can. J. Zool., 71, 1874 – 1879.

Olgun K., Üzüm N., Avcı A., and Miaud C. (2005), «Age, size and growth of the Southern Crested Newt Triturus karelinii (Strauch, 1870) in a population from Bozdağ (Western Turkey)», Amphibia–Reptilia, 26, 223 – 230.

Reinhard S., Renner S., and Kupfer A. (2015), «Sexual dimorphism and age of Mediterranean salamanders», Zoology, 118, 19 – 26.

Robson D. S. and Chapman D. G. (1961), «Catch curves and mortality rates», Trans. Am. Fish. Soc., 90, 181 – 189.

Seber G. A. F. (1973), The Estimation of Animal Abundance, Hafner Press, New York, NY.

Shine R. (1979), «Sexual selection and sexual dimorphism in the Amphibia», Copeia, 1979, 297 – 306.

Smirina E. M. (1972), «Annual layers in bones of Rana temporaria», Zool. Zh., 51, 1529 – 1534 [in Russian].

Stearns S. C. and Koella J. (1986), «The evolution of phenotypic plasticity in life-history traits: predictions for norms of reaction for age and size-at-maturity», Evolution, 40, 893 – 913.

Tarkhnishvili D. N. and Serbinova I. A. (1993), «The ecology of the Caucasian Salamander (Mertensiella caucasica Waga) in a local population», Asiatic Herpetol. Res., 5, 147 – 165.

Tarkhnishvili D. N. and Gokhelashvili R. K. (1994), «Preliminary data of the age structure of a Mertensiella caucasica population», Mertensiella, 4, 327 – 334.

Tarkhnishvili D. and Kaya U. (2009), «Status and Conservation of the Caucasian Salamander (Mertensiella caucasica)», in: Status and Protection of Globally Threatened Species in the Caucasus, Tbilisi.

Üzüm N. (2009), «A skeletochronological study of age, growth and longevity in a population of Caucasian Salamander, Mertensiella caucasica (Waga, 1876) (Caudata: Salamandridae) from Turkey», N.-W. J. Zool., 5(1), 74 – 84.

Üzüm N. and Olgun K. (2009), «Age and growth of Southern Crested Newt, Triturus karelinii (Strauch 1870), in a lowland population from northwest Turkey», Acta Zool. Acad. Sci. Hung., 55(1), 55 – 65.

Üzüm N., Ilgaz Ç., Kumlutaş Y., Gümüş Ç., and Avcı A. (2014), «The body size, age structure and growth of Bosc’s Fringe-toed Lizard, Acanthodactylus boskianus (Daudin, 1802)», Turk. J. Zool., 38, 383 – 388.

Waga (1876), «Nouvelle espèce de salamandride», Rev. Mag. Zool. Ser. 3, 1876, 326 – 328.

Veith M., Steinfartz S., Zardoya R., Seitz A., and Meyer A. (1998), «A molecular phylogeny of ‘true’ salamanders (family Salamandridae) and evolution of terrestriality of reproductive modes», J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 36, 7 – 16.

Zhang L. and Lu X. (2013), «Ontogenetic mechanisms underlying sexual size dimorphism in Urodele amphibians: An across-species approach», Curr. Zool., 59(1), 142 – 150, 2013.



  • There are currently no refbacks.