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The Irish Smooth Newt and Its Habitat

The Irish Smooth Newt and Its Habitat

The Smooth Newt is a member of the tailed amphibians (Urodela) and the only member that of this family that exists in Ireland (Heatwole & Wilkinson, 2013). The Newt is one among a few native amphibian species in Ireland (Heatwole & Wilkinson, 2013). The Newt has a lifespan of about four to five years (Heatwole & Wilkinson, 2013). The Smooth Newts are often encountered near water bodies although the adult newts are terrestrial and thus they only return to water bodies to breed (Gandola, 2017). The Smooth Newt is also referred to as Lissotriton Vulgaris, and they prefer habitats that protect them from desiccation. Therefore, the Smooth Newts prefer long grass, scrubland and woodland habitats. These Newts often spend their times over winter in woodpiles and rotting logs which offer them protection (Gandola, 2017).

With the need to keep their species alive, the Newts migrate to water bodies during the breeding season to find a mate. This period witnessed a change in appearance in the male Newts as well as an increase in the size of the spots on their skins (Gandola, 2017), they develop a more detailed dorsal crest, and their undersides turn bright orange. The females, on the other hand, are drabber in appearance (Gandola, 2017). The Smooth Newts in Irish are affected by the suitability of terrestrial and aquatic components of their habitats. Environmental pressures threaten the existence of these species due to their effects on the continuous deterioration of terrestrial and aquatic habitat features necessary for the newt population (Denoel, Perez, Cornet, & Ficetola, 2013). The Irish Smooth Newt is often referred to as the ‘water dragon’.

Importance of the Irish Smooth Newt

The Irish Smooth Newt is an important model to study because it is rare, a slow evolver and it encounters a lot of challenges to its existence. It presents people with the challenge of understanding how it manages to survive in Ireland regardless of terrestrial and aquatic environmental effects that limit its existence. It poses the question on what can be done so as to ensure there was more breeding of this species and improve the longevity of these species (Capek, 1996). Therefore, the study of this model opens up a field whereby scientists focus on life history traits such as age at maturity, growth rate, longevity, timing of reproduction, and fecundity (Marnell, Discriminant analysis of the terrestrial and aquatic habitat determinants of the smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris) and the common frog (Rana temporaria) in Ireland, 1998). These traits offer a broad understanding of the animal as they offer variation among the populations along altitudinal and environmental gradients (Altunisik, Kalayci, Gul, Ozdemir, & Tosunoglu, 2014). The study of this model offers people a chance to have detailed information on a rare species and use this information to understand their existence.

Many scientists, as well as other people, often research on physiological, morphological, and behavioural characteristics that they fail to incorporate life-history characteristics. This model gives people a chance to come up with diverse research methodologies as well as diverse research fields. Therefore, people will be required to look into more specific details rather than the general details that most people confine themselves to. The study of the Irish Smooth Newt gives people a chance to carry out research on a broader base of an endangered species. The nature of the smooth newt requires people to come up with detailed and comprehensive research on the subject and thus makes it an indulging topic to focus on.

The study of this model gives people a more comprehensive history of the species of native amphibians. Ireland supports three such native amphibian species; the Natterjack Toad, the Common Frog, and the Smooth Newt (Hurley, 2012). Therefore, the study of this model opens up a platform to explore the history of these amphibians and how they have managed to survive in Ireland. It broadens the topic about their existence and how and when they mate, and thus it requires the researchers to conduct ample and sufficient research in this field to come up with comprehensive results on the rare species.

Work on the Smooth Newt

People have found it imperative to conduct research on the Irish Smooth Newt because it is unique and represents one of the three native amphibian species in Ireland. There have been studies on this model since the late 1990s with a lot of work being done in a bid to understand the smooth newts; people have investigated the breeding site characteristics of the Smooth Newt in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland (Altunisik, Kalayci, Gul, Ozdemir, & Tosunoglu, 2014). This covered about 278 water bodies with their neighbouring terrestrial habitats which were examined with 33 habitat parameters being recorded (Marnell, Discriminant Analysis of the Terrestrial and Aquatic Habitat Determinants of the Smooth Newt (Triturus Vulgaris) and the Common Frog (Rana Temporaria) in Ireland, 1998). The results identified the aquatic habitat and terrestrial habitat variables that were used and unused by the smooth newts.

There have been further works over the years in a bid to comprehensively understand the smooth newt with some aimed at understanding the individual age of the smooth newts by using the skeletochronology method for age determination in amphibians (Altunisik, Kalayci, Gul, Ozdemir, & Tosunoglu, 2014). This research was factored out during the breeding season in 2013 whereby there was the determination of sex and the age of the newts before trying to understand the other life-history traits.

There have been a lot of studies on the smooth newts even in Turkey whereby the study has concentrated on the variation in the age and body size of these species (Ozdemir et al., 2012). These studies show the need to comprehensively understand these specify from a specific point of view rather than a general point of view. The studies offer comprehensive results in their specific research areas and use these to expound on the nature of the newts. These newts relate in different areas; in Turkey, they are explained on their life-history traits on the island and mainland.

Mitochondrial DNA and Nuclear DNA

Nuclear DNA refers to the DNA contained in the nucleus of a eukaryotic organism while mitochondrial DNA refers to structures in a cell that converts energy from food into an efficient form to be used by the cells. The incorporation of Mitochondrial and Nuclear DNA is still unknown and poses a challenge on how to effectively integrate them in a gene fragment (Srinivasainagendra et al., 2017). There is the need to come up with a project to fully understand how to incorporate these two in an efficient gene that can handle them. It is important to understand other terms that relate to DNA such as DNA barcoding which entails a taxonomic method which uses a short genetic marker in the DNA of an organism so as to identify which species it belongs to (Srinivasainagendra et al., 2017).

Part B

It is important to understand what Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) entails before trying to carry it out and thus the process involved amplifying one copy on the DNA segment and using it to come up with multiple copies of the DNA sequence (Mullis, Ferre, & Gibbs, 2012). This entailed taking the copy to the laboratory and using PCR tool to generate these copies.

Sanger sequencing refers to a DNA sequencing method that focuses on selective enactment of chain-terminating dideoxynucleotides during the vitro DNA replication process by the use of DNA polymerase (Munshi, 2012). The main essence of using the Sanger sequencing is to determine the individual sequencing of pieces of DNA such as the fragments necessary for DNA cloning (Munshi, 2012).

Bio drop offers insights on how to conduct micro-volume measurements. It is effective in helping with DNA concentration as it works with pre-programmed methods for RNA, proteins, oligos, and DNA (BioDrop DUO Boost your micro-volume application capability, n.d.). This can be used to come up with comprehensive data on small volume measurements and concentrate on DNA.

Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (MEGA) refers to computer software which conducts statistical analysis of the molecular evolution and helps construct phylogenetic trees (Tamura, Stecher, Peterson, Filipski, & Kumar, 2013). It contains resources for creating sequence alignments and conducting analysis for molecular evolution (Tamura, Stecher, Peterson, Filipski, & Kumar, 2013). However, the use of this software is at time hard due to its complex nature.

CLUSTAL refers to a series of computer programs which can be used as a dataset for testing. It can be used to create phylogenetic trees by incorporating a PHYLIP-format alignment of essential sequences (Higgins & Sharp, 1988). The trees created can be viewed and analyzed through numerous programs with CLUSTAL being an effective program to use.

Chromas describe a free trace viewer used for simple DNA sequencing activities, and it requires the assembly of minimal sequences (Mullis, Ferre, & Gibbs, 2012). This can be used to search for subsequences by optimal alignment or by using exact matching alignment. It is effective in batch processing and can batch print and batch export (Mullis, Ferre, & Gibbs, 2012).


Altunisik, A., Kalayci, T. E., Gul, C., Ozdemir, N., & Tosunoglu, M. (2014). A Skeletochronological study of the smooth newt Lissotriton Vulgaris (Amphibia: Urodela) from anIisland and mainland population in Turkey. Italian Journal of Zoology, 81(3), 381-388.

BioDrop DUO Boost your micro-volume application capability. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Capek, K. (1996). War with the Newts. Northwestern: Northwestern University Press.

Denoel, M., Perez, A., Cornet, Y., & Ficetola, G. F. (2013). Similar local and landscape processes affect both a common and a rare newt species. PLoS ONE, 8(5).

Gandola, R. (2017). The herpetological society of Ireland. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from

Heatwole, H., & Wilkinson, J. W. (2013). Amphibian Biology, Volume 11, Part 3: Status of conservation and decline of amphibians: Eastern Hemisphere: Western Europe. New York: Pelagic Publishing.

Higgins, D., & Sharp, P. (1988). CLUSTAL: a package for performing multiple sequence alignment on a microcomputer. Gene, 73(15), 237-44.

Hurley, J. (2012, March 14). IWT Seeking Information on Smooth Newts. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from

Marnell, F. (1998). Discriminant analysis of the terrestrial and aquatic habitat determinants of the smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris) and the common frog (Rana temporaria) in Ireland. Journal of Zoology, 1469-7998.

Marnell, F. (1998). Discriminant analysis of the terrestrial and aquatic habitat determinants of the smooth newt (Triturus Vulgaris) and the common frog (Rana Temporaria) in Ireland. Journal of Zoology, 244(1), 1-6.

Mullis, K. B., Ferre, F., & Gibbs, R. A. (2012). The polymerase chain reaction. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.

Munshi, A. (2012). DNA Sequencing – Methods and Applications . Rijeka: InTech.

Ozdemir, N., Altunisik, A., Ergul, T., Gul, S., Tosunoglu, M., Cadeddu, G., & Giacoma, C. (2012). Variation in body size and age structure among three Turkish populations of the treefrog Hyla Arborea. Amphibia-Reptilia, 25-35.

Srinivasainagendra, V., Sandel, M. W., Singh, B., Sundaresan, A., Mooga, V. P., Bajpai, P., . . . Singh, K. K. (2017). Migration of mitochondrial DNA in the nuclear genome of colorectal adenocarcinoma. Genome Medicine, 9(31).

Tamura, K., Stecher, G., Peterson, D., Filipski, A., & Kumar, S. (2013). MEGA6: Molecular evolutionary genetics analysis version 6.0. Oxford Journals of Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2725-2729.

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