The soft-release of captive-born Kaiser’s Mountain Newt Neurergus kaiseri (Amphibia: Caudata) into a highland stream, western Iran

Main Article Content

Tayebe Salehi
Vahid Akmali
Mozafar Sharifi


Captive breeding and reintroduction programs are important conservation tools and are used for increasing the number of plant and animal species worldwide.  The endemic Kaiser’s Mountain Newt Neurergus kaiseri is listed as Vulnerable on the Red List by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is amended to Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES).  In the present study, in order to learn about the survival ability of captive-born newts of N. kaiseri, we conducted a trial translocation of 15 two-year-old captive-born N. kaiseri into the highland stream in Sartakht Village, western Iran.  The survival rate of these newts were determined in two stages, involving early acclimatization in mesh bags and direct release in a highland brook.  In 12 surveys to the translocation site, a total of 86 individuals were identified during spring and summer.  The average survival rate during the acclimatizing phase was 98 ± 0.04 %, while an average survival rate of 12 ± 0.04 % was obtained when the newts were released in the brook.  Applying an average diurnal detection probability obtained for the Yellow Spotted Mountain Newt Neurergus derjugini, the overall survival rate in September when newts began the autumn withdrawal was 13%.  These findings demonstrate that captive-born N. kaiseri released into the wild in controlled conditions can survive during spring and summer and provide information for future reintroduction plan of this species.

Article Details



Attum, O., M. Otoum, Z. Amr & B. Tietjen (2011). Movement patterns and habitat use of soft -released translocated spur-thighed tortoises, Testudo graeca. European Journal of Wildlife Research 57: 251–258. DOI:

Bailey, L.L., T.R. Simons & K.H. Pollock (2004). Estimating site occupancy and species detection probability parameters for terrestrial salamanders. Ecological Applications 14: 692−702. DOI:

Bell, B., D. Phillip, J. Bishop, J.M. Germano & P.O. Wellington (2010). Lessons learned from a series of translocations of the archaic Hamilton’s Frog and Maud Island Frog in central New Zealand, pp. 81–87. In: Soorae, P.S. (ed.). Global Re-introduction Perspectives: 2010: Additional case studies from around the globe. IUCN/ SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group, Abu Dhabi, UAE, xii+352pp.

Bodinof, C.M., J.T. Briggler, R.E. Junge, T. Mong, J. Beringer, M.D. Wanner, C.D. Schuette, J. Ettling & J.J. Millspaugh (2012). Survival and body condition of captive-reared juvenile Ozark Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) following translocation to the wild. Copeia 1: 150–159. DOI:

Dervo, B., J.K. Skei, O.K. Berg, M. Kraabøl, J.M. Arnemo & D. Dolmen (2010). A comparison of external and internal attachments of radio transmitters on adult crested newts Triturus cristatus. Amphibia-Reptilia 31(2): 229–237. DOI:

Dickens, M.J., D.J. Delehanty & L.M. Romero (2010). Stress: an inevitable component of animal translocation. Biological Conservation 143: 1329–1341. DOI:

Estrada, J. (2014). Finding correlations among successful reintroduction programs: an analysis and review of current and past mistakes. A practicum submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science. School of Natural Resources and the Environment,University of Michigan, iv+61pp.

Farasat, H. & M. Sharifi (2016). Ageing and growth of the endangered Kaiser’s Mountain Newt, Neurergus kaiseri (Caudata: Salamandridae), in the Southern Zagros range, Iran. Journal of Herpetology 50(1): 120–125. DOI:

Farasat, H., V. Akmali & M. Sharifi (2016). Population genetic structure of the endangered Kaiser’s Mountain Newt, Neurergus kaiseri (Amphibia: Salamandridae). PloS One 11(2): p.e0149596. DOI:

Gascon, C., J.P. Collins, R.D. Moore, D.R. Church, J.E. McKay & J.R. Mendelson (2007). Amphibian Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK, 64PP.

Germano, J.M. & P.J. Bishop (2009). Suitability of amphibians and reptiles for translocation. Conservation Biology 23(1): 7–15. DOI:

Griffiths, R.A. & L. Pavajea (2008). Captive breeding, reintroduction, and the conservation of amphibians. Conservation Biology 22: 852–861. DOI:

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (2016). Neurergus kaiseri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T59450A49436271. Downloaded on 21 August 2019. DOI:

Jule, K.R., L.A. Leaver & S.E. Lea (2008). The effects of captive experience on reintroduction survival in carnivores: a review and analysis. Biological Conservation 141(2): 355–363. DOI:

Kinne, O. (2004). Successful re-introduction of the newts Triturus cristatus and T. vulgaris. Endangered Species Research 1: 25–40. DOI:

Liu, B., L. Li, H. Lloyd, C. Xia, Y. Zhang & G. Zheng (2016). Comparing post-release survival and habitat use by captive-bred Cabot’s Tragopan (Tragopan caboti) in an experimental test of soft-release reintroduction strategies. Avian Research 7(1): 19. DOI:

Mathews, F., M. Orros, G. McLaren, M. Gelling & R. Foster (2005). Keeping fit on the ark: assessing the suitability of captive-bred animals for release. Biological Conservation 121(4): 569–577. DOI:

McDonough, C. & P.W.C. Paton (2007). Salamander dispersal across a forested landscape fragmented by a golf course. Journal Wildlife Management 71: 1163–1169. DOI:

McFadden, M., D. Hunter, M. Evans, B. Scheele, R. Pietsch & P. Harlow (2016). Re-introduction of the northern corroboree frog in the Northern Brindabella Mountains, New South Wales, Australia, pp. 35–39. In: Soorae, P.S. (ed.). Global Re-introduction Perspectives: 2016. Case-studies from around the globe. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN/SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group and Abu Dhabi, UAE: Environment AgencyAbu Dhabi, xiv+276pp.

Miloski, S. & V. Titus (2008). Translocation of radio-implanted Eastern Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. SUNY College at Brockport.

Mitchell, A.M., T.L. Wellicome, D. Brodie & K.M. Cheng (2011). Captive-reared burrowing owls show higher site-affinity, survival and reproductive performance when reintroduced using a soft-release. Biological Conservation 144: 1382–1391. DOI:

Mobaraki, A., M. Amiri, R. Alvandi, M.E. Tehrani, H.Z. Kia, A. Khoshnamvand, A. Bali, E. Forozanfar & R.K. Browne (2014). A conservation reassessment of the Critically Endangered, Lorestan Newt Neurergus kaiseri (Schmidt, 1952) in Iran. Amphibian Reptilia Conservation 9: 16–25.

Moehrenschlager, A. & D.W. Macdonald (2003). Movement and survival parameters of translocated and resident swift foxes Vulpes velox. Animal Conservation 6: 199–206. DOI:

Moseby, K.E., B.M. Hill & T.H Lavery (2014). Tailoring release protocols to individual species and sites: one size does not fit all. PLoS One 9(6), p.e99753. DOI:

Okuyama, J., T. Shimizu, O. Abe, K. Yoseda & N. Arai (2010). Wild versus head-started hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata: post-release behavior and feeding adaptions. Endangered Species Research 10: 181–190. DOI:

Parto, P., S. Vaissi & M. Sharifi (2013). Histomorphology of digestive tract in two closely related mountain newts (salamandridae: Neurergus kaiseri and N. microspilotus). Animal Biology Journal 4(1): 26. DOI:

Parto, P., S. Vaissi S, H. Farasat & M. Sharifi (2015). Reproductive morphology and sperm storage in Neurergus kaiseri (Caudata: Salamandridae). Online Journal of Veterinary Research 19(9):587–592.

Parto, P., Z.M. Haghighi, S. Vaissi & M. Sharifi (2014a). Microbiological and histological examinations of endangered Neurergus kaiseri tissues displaying Red-leg Syndrome. Asian Herpetological Research 5(3): 204–208. DOI:

Parto, P., S. Vaissi & M. Sharifi (2014b). Histomorphological study of the female genital system in two closely related mountain newts in Iran (Salamandridae: Neurergus microspilotus and N. kaiseri): with the special references to follicular stage. Russian Journal of Herpetology 21(1): 5–12.

Randall, L., K. Kendell, P. Govindarajulu, B. Houston, P. Ohanjanian & A. Moehrenschlager (2016). Re-introduction of the northern leopard frog in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, pp. 45–50. In: Soorae, P.S. (ed.). Global Re-introduction Perspectives: 2016: Case studies from around the globe. IUCN/SSC Reintroduction Specialist, Gland, Switzerland.

Roe, J.H., M.R. Frank, S.E. Gibson, O. Attum & B.A. Kingsbury (2010). No place like home: an experimental comparison of reintroduction strategies using snakes. Journal of Applied Ecology 47(6): 1253–1261. DOI:

Salehi, T. & M. Sharifi (2019). Comparing the predatory impact of captive–bred and free–living yellow spotted mountain newts (Neurergus microspilotus) on the larval green toad (Bufotes variabilis). Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 42(1): 31–37. DOI:

Santos, T., J. Pérez-Tris, R. Carbonell, J.L. Tellería & J.A. Díaz (2009). Monitoring the performance of wild-born and introduced lizards in a fragmented landscape: implications for ex situ conservation programmes. Biological Conservation 142(12): 2923–2930. DOI:

Seddon, P.J., D.P. Armstrong & R.F. Maloney (2007). Developing the science of reintroduction biology. Conservation Biology 21: 303–312. DOI:

Serangeli, M.T., L. Cistrone, L. Ancillotto, A. Tomassini & D. Russo (2012). The post-release fate of hand-reared orphaned bats: survival and habitat selection. Animal Welfare 21(1): 9. DOI:

Sharifi, M., T. Papenfuss, N. Rastegar-Pouyani, S. Anderson & S. Kuzmin (2009). Neurergus kaiseri. In: IUCN Red List of Threatened species. Version 2009.1. Downloaded on 31 August 2009.

Sharifi, M., H. Farasat & S. Vaissi (2012). Sexual size dimorphism in Neurergus kaiseri (Caudata: Salamandridae) in south-western Zagros Mountains, Iran. Amphibia Reptile Conservation 6(4):1–8.

Sharifi, M., H. Farasat, H. Barani-Beiranv, S. Vaissi & E. Foroozanfar (2013). Notes on the distribution and abundance of the endangered Kaiser’s Mountain Newt, Neurergus kaiseri (Caudata: Salamandridae), in southwestern Iran. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 8(3): 724–731.

Sharifi, M., H. Farasat, S. Vaissi, P. Parto & Z.M.S. Haghighi (2014). Prevalence of the amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in endangered Neurergus microspilotus (Caudata: Salamandridae) in Kavat stream, western Iran. Global Veterinaria 12(1): 45–52.

Sharifi, M. & S. Vaissi (2014). Captive breeding and trial reintroduction of the endangered Yellow-spotted Mountain Newt Neurergus microspilotus in western Iran. Endangered Species Research 23: 159–166; DOI:

Stuart, S.N., J.S. Chanson, N.A. Cox, B.E. Young, A.S.L. Rodrigues, D.L. Fischman & R.W. Waller (2004). Status and trends of amphibian declines and extinctions worldwide. Science 306: 1783–1786. DOI:

Sutherland, W.J. (2000). The conservation handbook: Research, Management and Policy. Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK, 296pp.

Vaissi, S. & M. Sharifi (2015). Larval and Post-Metamorphic Growth in the Endangered Yellow Spotted Mountain Newt Neurergus microspilotus (Caudata, Salamandridae). World Journal of Zoology 10(4): 365–373.

Vaissi, S. & M. Sharifi (2016a). Changes in food availability mediate the effects of temperature on growth, metamorphosis and survival in endangered Yellow Spotted Mountain Newts: implications for captive breeding programs. Biologia 71: 444–451. DOI:

Vaissi, S. & M. Sharifi (2016b). Variation in food availability mediate the impact of density on cannibalism, growth, and survival in larval Yellow Spotted Newts (Neurergus microspilotus: implications for captive breeding programs. Zoo Biology 35: 513–521. DOI:

Vaissi, S. & M. Sharifi (2017). Ontogenetic changes in spot configuration (numbers, circularity, size and asymmetry) and lateral line in Neurergus microspilotus (Caudata: Salamandridae), Acta Zoologica 99(1) : 9–19. DOI:

Vaissi, S. & M. Sharifi (2018). Trial reintroduction of the endangered Yellow Spotted Mountain Newt in western Iran, pp. 53–57. In: Soorae, P.S (ed.). Global Re-introduction Perspectives: 2018: Case studies from around the globe. IUCN/ SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group, Switzerland and Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, UAE, xiv + 286pp.

Wanless, R.M., J. Cunningham, P.A. Hockey, J. Wanless, R.W. White & R. Wiseman (2002). The success of a soft-release reintroduction of the flightless Aldabra Rail (Dryolimnas [cuvieri] aldabranus) on Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles. Biological Conservation 107: 203–210. DOI:

Zhang, L., H.X. Zhang, Q.J. Wang, I. Recchio, J. Krebs, D. Barber & A.J. Kouba (2018). Lessons learned from the reintroduction of the Chinese Giant Salamander, pp. 58–63. In: Soorae, P.S. (ed.). Global Re-introduction Perspectives: 2018: Case Studies from Around the Globe. IUCN/ SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group, Switzerland and Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, UAE, xiv+286pp.