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Natural History note on the reproduction of Echinotriton maxiquadratus

Herpetological Review 47(3), 2016
moving to still wetlands along the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains
of the United States. Due to their secretive behavior and the habi-
tats in which they reside, much of their natural history is poorly
known, including their predators (Petranka 2010. Salamanders
of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press,
Washington D.C. 592 pp.). At 0818 h on 7 November 2015, we
witnessed an adult Buteo lineatus (Red-shouldered Hawk) eat-
ing an adult A. means in Audubons Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary,
Collier Co., Florida, USA (26.3968°N, 81.5941°W; WGS 84). The
B. lineatus was sitting in a tree then flew off and dropped the
half-eaten A. means (Fig. 1). In addition, a series of trail camera
pictures taken at the sanctuary at 1610 h on 23 August 2015,
(26.3858°N, 81.6026°W; WGS 84), showed a similar B. lineatus
eating an adult S. lacertina (Fig. 2).
It is possible these might be two cases of kleptoparasitism
(feeding by food theft), possibly from an Ardea alba (Great
Egret), as has been similarly reported from Lake Placid, High-
lands Co., Florida, USA (Kilham 1984. Colon. Waterbirds 7:143–
145). However, in both cases reported here, no other birds were
seen in the vicinity. Therefore, it is likely these were actual pre-
dation events. This is based on several observations of B. linea-
tus diving into shallow water at the edge of wetlands in other
locations in South Florida but with no prey captured during
these events. Additionally, the diet of B. lineatus has been found
to contain as much as 46% amphibians in their southern range
(Strobel and Boal 2010. Wilson J. Ornithol. 122:68–74).
JOHN E. HERMAN (e-mail: and WENDY
BROSSE, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast Uni-
versity, 10501 FGCU Boulevard South, Fort Myers, Florida 33965, USA;
ZACH S. STONE and MIMI WOLOK, 1248 Frank Whiteman Blvd, Naples,
Florida 34103, USA; CRISTINA UGARTE WHELAN, Florida Interna-
tional University, College of Arts and Sciences, ECS 313, MMC University
Park, Miami, Florida 33199, USA (e-mail: cugarte@; KEVIN R. T.
WHELAN, South Florida/Caribbean Inventory and Monitoring Network,
National Park Service, 18001 Old Cutler Road, Suite 419, Palmetto Bay,
Florida 33157, USA (e-mail:; SHAWN CLEM
(e-mail: and MICA RUMBACH, Audubon Florida,
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, 375 Sanctuary Road West, Naples, Florida
34120, USA.
REPRODUCTION. Newts of the genus Echinotriton have
gained increasing conservation attention, particularly regard-
ing collection for the illegal pet trade. Notably, the descrip-
tion of a new species, E. maxiquadratus, concealed the locality
data to prevent poaching activities (Hou et al. 2013. Zootaxa
3895:89–102). However, despite the increasing attention to the
conservation of E. maxiquadratus, nothing is known about its
reproductive biology. Such information is crucial to the habitat
conservation and future captive breeding of the species.
fIg. 1. Adult Amphiuma means partially consumed by a Buteo lin-
fIg. 2. Adult Siren lacertina being consumed by a Buteo lineatus.
fIg. 1. Breeding habitat of Echinotriton maxiquadratus in Southern
China. A) Example of a breeding pond; B) eggs of E. maxiquadratus,
with their relative position indicated by arrow in A; C) an adult female
of E. maxiquadratus found 200 m away from the pond.
Herpetological Review 47(3), 2016
On 12 July 2015 at 0000 h, we found one adult female E. maxi-
quadratus in a mixed forest (evergreen and deciduous broadleaf)
in southern China. Later, on 9 May 2016 at 1413 h, we located
two breeding ponds of E. maxiquadratus in the same area, about
200 m from where the female was found. The two ponds were
about 500 m apart, 1 m2 and 5 m2 in size, respectively, and average
water depth was about 10 cm. Four clutches of eggs were found
under leaf litter around each pond, all ranging from 0.3 m to 1.1
m away from the water edge. The average clutch size for the eight
clutches was 42 eggs (Fig. 1).
Our observations suggest that E. maxiquadratus has similar
reproductive ecology to its congeners, in which eggs are depos-
ited terrestrially near the water source (Xie et al. 2002. Acta Zool.
Sin. 48:554–557; Takeshi et al. 2013. Animals 3:680–692).
JIAJUN ZHOU, Zhejiang Forest Resources Monitoring Center, Zheji-
ang, 310020, China; AXEL HERNANDEZ, Engineering and Ecological Con-
servation, University of Corsica, Corsica, 20250, France; ZHIYONG YUAN,
Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yunnan,
650031, China; KAI WANG, Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural His-
tory and Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma 73072,
USA (e-mail:
BREEDING AGGREGATION. Agalychnis spurrelli is a nocturnal,
arboreal, canopy-dwelling species that inhabits humid lowland
moist and wet forests and lower premontane rainforest from
southwestern Costa Rica to northwestern Ecuador (Savage 2002.
The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: Herpetofauna be-
tween Two Continents, between Two Seas. University of Chicago
Press. Chicago, Illinois. 934 pp.). Agalychnis spurrelli is described
as an explosive breeder, where large aggregations form around
breeding ponds after heavy rains. However, this behavior is pri-
marily described in only one published account from a human-
made pond in Rincon de Osa, Costa Rica (Scott and Starrett 1974.
Bull. So. California Acad. Sci. 73:86–94).
Here, we describe three explosive breeding events during
the rainy season of 2015, in a naturally-occurring swamp on
the southern tip of the Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
(8.4126°N, 83.3458°W, WGS 84; 34 m elev.). In each of the three
events, starting on 22 July, 19 September, and 24 August 2015, we
observed a large breeding aggregation of A. spurrelli lasting for
3–4 days (Figs. 1, 2). To observe the breeding aggregations, we ar-
rived at the swamp just before sunrise (ca. 0500 h). Peak breeding
behavior lasted until 0800 h, when A. spurrelli individuals began
to climb back up the vegetation to the canopy. However, on some
occasions we observed frogs continuing to lay eggs until as late
as 1030 h. The average nighttime temperature during the obser-
vation periods was 25 ± SD 1°C (between 1800–0600 h) and aver-
age rainfall during the breeding aggregations was 23.8 ± SD 26.5
mm. We observed the aggregations during the following moon
phases: waxing crescent phase of the moon, 20 days from the last
full moon, with approximately 30% illumination, waxing gibbous
phase, 24 days since the last full moon, with approximately 57%
fIg. 1. Swamp where breeding aggregation of Agalychnis spurrelli
was observed. The dashed box denotes one of the areas in which the
breeding aggregations were concentrated.
fIg. 2. Dense concentrations of Agalychnis spurrelli on vegetation.
fIg. 3. Leaves covered with Agalychnis spurrelli egg masses.
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