Alpine newts in Guadarrama and other outsiders

hembra tritonThe special number of the bulletin of the Asociación Herpetológica Española it is already available about the introduction of amphibians and reptiles species. In this number we have published an article about the introduction and recent expansion of the alpine newt (Mesotriton alpestris) in Peñalara.

As you probably know, the alpine newt inhabits naturally in a big part of Europe, reaching as far as the Iberian Peninsula where it occupies a great part of the Cantabrian coast. There is a lack of this specie in most parts of the Peninsula, although, years ago it was recorded in the central system, probably confused with the Iberian newt due to its red belly.

In the mid-80s, surprisingly, a pair of specimens appeared in Peñalara, without Mario García País and other great herpetologist that normally work in the area could detect it previously. Since then, the alpine newt has not stop from expanding in Peñalara, taking, year after year, more and more pounds since its introduction took place. Now, our genetic analyses, the same way that other that were realized previously with older techniques, confirm the introduced nature of the alpine newt in Peñalara. Although it was impossible for us to specify the precise origin of the introduced specimens, the newts of Peñalara are very similar genetically to the ones from the Asturian populations of the Lago Ercina and the Pozos de Lloroza in Picos de Europa.

The consequences of the introduction of the alpine newt in Peñalara are difficult to assess in detail. To begin with, we will always have the doubt of if it was, precisely this introduction, what motivated the entrance of the killing fungus in Peñalara from the north of Spain. Besides, the alpine newt fights with the indigenous amphibians species from Peñalara and preys on some of them, like for example, on the larvae of the lacking midwife toad. Also, nowadays, the alpine newt acts like reservoir and vector of the chytridiomycosis and complicates the works of mitigating the illness.

llanos penalaraThe alpine newt, for the moment, was not able to reproduce outside the area known as Los Llanos de Peñalara, but if it gets to colonize settlements like the Laguna Grande, its removal it is going to be really complicated. Therefore, it is time to take action and to control this species to maintain, at least, its distribution in the park restricted.

In this last number of the AHE’s bulletin, you can also find a complete article titled “Síntesis de las introducciones de anfibios y reptiles en España” (Summary of the introduction of amphibians and reptiles in Spain), where you can get to know the introduced herpetial species that exits in our country and where are they found. According to this work, the Balearic Islands have suffered the biggest number of introductions (18 species), while the Canary Islands present 5 introduced species and 6 have been translocated among islands. 9 species have been introduced to the Peninsula, mainly in the coast and in the south. In general, all these introductions have been passive and motivated by the freight traffic. Among the active introduction, most of them have occurred in historical times, although some of them have also occurred in the last 25 years.

This article concludes that among other necessary steps to prevent new introductions and to minimize the impacts of the already occurred, it is necessary to reconsider the list of protected species and introduce them in the national and regional catalogs. From SOS Amphibians Guadarrama we support this proposal and in the case of the alpine newt in the Regional Catalog of the Autonomous Community of Madrid it is especially urgent in order to take the necessary actions for the preservation of our biodiversity.

Translated by Maialen Iriso

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