Spotted Blue Ambistoma (Ambystoma Laterale)

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Spotted Blue Ambistoma (Ambystoma Laterale)
Spotted Blue Ambistoma (Ambystoma Laterale)

Video: Spotted Blue Ambistoma (Ambystoma Laterale)

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The spotted blue ambistoma (Ambystoma laterale) gets its name from the bluish-blue or whitish spots on the tail, back, legs and belly. The pattern of spots is individual for each amphibian. Inhabits flat mature forests, abounding in damp and wetlands, next to open bodies of water. Avoids dry places. These are carnivorous amphibians that eat various invertebrates. Reproduction takes place in forest ponds and ditches.

Area

North America - from southeastern Quebec to Lake Winnipeg, in the south across the Great Lakes and New England to northern Indiana and New Jersey.

Spotted blue ambistoma (Ambystoma laterale), photo photograph tailed amphibians
Spotted blue ambistoma (Ambystoma laterale), photo photograph tailed amphibians

Appearance

The body of the spotted blue abmistoma is thin, stocky with short legs. The head is large. The tail is long (about 40% of the length of the whole body), fleshy, wide at the base and compressed towards the end. The toes are relatively long, 4 on the front and 5 on the hind legs. The skin is smooth. The vertebrae are biconcave. Palatine teeth are located transversely. The eyelids are movable. Costal (costal) grooves 12. Males are slightly smaller than females.

Color

The spotted blue ambistoma got its name because of the bluish-blue or whitish spots on the tail, back, paws and belly. The belly is black or slightly lighter than the back, the back is dark gray. The skin is bluish black to light gray. The pattern of spots is individual for each amphibian.

Immediately after metamorphosis, young salamanders are dark brown in color with dull yellow spots on the back or yellowish stripes (on each side of the back). Sometimes completely black individuals are found.

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The size

Ambistoma grows up to 8-14 cm.

Habitat

Plain mature forests (deciduous and coniferous), abounding in damp and wetlands, near open water bodies (the bottom of which consists of medium and fine structured soils - clay, loam, silt, sand, fine gravel and pH> 4.5). Found in large city parks and small forest areas. Avoids dry places.

Temporary and swampy reservoirs, roadside ditches with dense aquatic vegetation are used for breeding. The reservoir must be deep (15-100 cm) so that the ambist larvae have time to metamorphize.

Enemies

The larvae are hunted by coleoptera, East American newts (Notophthalmus) and tiger salamander larvae.

Food / nutrition

Spotted blue ambistomas are carnivorous amphibians - adults eat various invertebrates (earthworms, snails, slugs, insects, etc.). The larvae feed on small aquatic invertebrates (cladocerans and copepods, aquatic insects and their larvae - especially mosquito larvae) and amphibian tadpoles (leopard frogs and three-striped tree frogs).

They look for food on the ground in fallen and rotting foliage, under driftwood and stones.

Spotted blue ambistoma (Ambystoma laterale), photo photograph of an amphibian
Spotted blue ambistoma (Ambystoma laterale), photo photograph of an amphibian

Behavior

Spotted blue ambistomas are nocturnal. The day is spent in damp places (under fallen or rotting logs, in fallen leaves, moss and other organic matter residues) or underground burrows, and at night they go out to eat.

When an ambistome is in danger, it begins waving its tail back and forth, and secretes a sticky, caustic, milky liquid from two glands located at the base of the tail. If the salamander is grabbed by the tail, it will throw it back.

Reproduction

Reproduction takes place in forest ponds and ditches. Males go to the reservoirs where breeding takes place in early spring, when intensive snow melting begins. Females appear at the reservoirs a few days later. Amphibians move at night and, possibly, during the day - in rainy weather.

The courtship process in spotted blue salamanders is quite simple - the male pushes the female with his nose, then he climbs onto her, grabs her front legs, rubs his chin against her head and back. Amplexus can last for several hours. The male lays 1-3 spermatophores. Fertilization is internal. After 24-48 hours, the female lays 190-250 eggs with a diameter of 1.5-1.7 mm. Caviar is glued separately or in clusters to the bottom of the reservoir or to the leaves of aquatic plants.

Season / period of breeding

Depends on the area - mid-March (southern Michigan) - May.

Puberty

Onset at about two years of age.

Incubation

Egg incubation lasts from 2 to 4 weeks.

Offspring

The larvae of the spotted blue ambistoma have external gills, a mouth and a tail with a wide fin. When they reach 3-5 cm in size (at the age of 2-3 months), then metamorphosis occurs and young ambistomas come to land. Most of the time, the larvae hide in aquatic vegetation or fallen leaves.

Spotted blue ambistoma (Ambystoma laterale), photo photograph tailed amphibians
Spotted blue ambistoma (Ambystoma laterale), photo photograph tailed amphibians

Benefit / harm to humans

Ambistoma larvae destroy a large number of mosquito larvae.

Population / conservation status

Blue-spotted ambistoma is listed in the IUCN Book as the "Least Concern" species. There is no exact information on the size of the population, but it is assumed that it exceeds 100,000 adults.

Threats to the species: disappearance or acidification of reservoirs suitable for breeding; settlement of reservoirs with fish that prey on eggs and larvae; pollution of the habitat with insecticides and herbicides; destruction of the habitat.

Forms hybrids with Jefferson's ambistoma (Ambystoma jeffersonianum), tiger (A. tigrinum) and fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) over a large area of ​​its range.

The Ambystoma laterale x Ambystoma jeffersonianum hybrid is called A. platineum. It is a same-sex triploid clone. Hybrids are larger in size (up to 18 cm), lighter colored, their limbs are longer, and their muzzles are wider. They are more tolerant of dry places and spend more time on the surface.

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