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Adaptation of the reproductive cycle in Triturus alpestris apuanus to an unpredictable habitat

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The annual reproductive cycle was studied in a Triturus alpestris apuanus population from northwestern Italy. Adult and larval newts were captured and measured monthly. By using histological techniques, the status and evolution of male gonads were examined. T. a. apuanus shows a post-nuptial gametogenesis, and testes reach their smallest size and weight in spring, when there are mainly mature sperm ampullae and yellow glandular tissue. Secondary sexual characters reach their maximum development during this period, decreasing during gametogenesis and increasing again in early autumn. Breeding activity begins at the same time, and is interrupted by the winter. Reproduction starts again in spring, lasting until summer. Eggs are laid at least twice a year, and the two larval cohorts live together. It is suggested that all these biological features are adaptations to unpredictable aquatic environments in a Mediterranean dry climate. These results suggest high levels of flexibility and variability in newt seasonal cycles.

Affiliations: 1: Museo regionale di Scienze naturali, via Giovanni Giolitti 36, 10123 Torino, Italy; 2: Dipartimento di Biologia Animale, Università degli Studi di Torino, via Accademia Albertina 17, 10123 Torino, Italy


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