Translocate salamanders (including newts)

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One review and three before-and-after studies in the UK and USA found that translocated eggs or adults established breeding populations of salamanders or smooth newts.
  • One replicated, before-and-after study in the USA found that one of two salamander species reproduced following translocation of eggs, tadpoles and metamorphs.  One before-and-after study in the USA found that translocated salamander eggs hatched and tadpoles had similar survival rates as in donor ponds.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after study in 1965–1986 of two created ponds in Missouri, USA (Sexton & Phillips 1986) found that translocating eggs and larvae established breeding populations of spotted salamanders Ambystoma maculatum and ringed salamanders Ambystoma annulatum.  A breeding population of spotted salamanders was established in one pond.  At the other pond, adult ringed salamanders Ambystoma annulatum were recorded in 1984 and egg masses in 1986.  In 1965 and 1968, eggs and larvae of spotted salamanders were translocated to a newly constructed pond.  In 1977, eggs of the ringed salamander were translocated to another created pond.  Ponds were monitored until 1986.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A review in 1991 of amphibian translocation programmes (Reinert 1991) found that three salamander translocations resulted in established breeding populations.  In one study, breeding populations of two salamander species were established (Sexton & Phillips 1986).  In a second study, a breeding population of tiger salamanders Ambystoma tigrinum established at a created pond, with returning adults and 18–25 egg masses recorded within four years.  In 1982–1985, 1,000 tiger salamander eggs were translocated (20 km) annually to the pond (0.2 ha) in New Jersey, USA.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A before-and-after study in 1974–1995 in Missouri, USA (Sexton et al. 1998) found that translocated spotted salamander Ambystoma maculatum eggs established a breeding population. Numbers of salamander captures increased from 428 in 1974 to 2,301 in 1995 at the release pond.  Salamanders also colonized four other created ponds (0.9–2.4 km).  In 1966, spotted salamander egg masses were translocated 1 km to a newly constructed pond.  Another six ponds were constructed at the site in 1965–1979.  Monitoring was undertaken using drift-fencing with pitfall traps around ponds and by egg mass counts.

    Study and other actions tested
  4. A replicated, before-and-after study in 1995–2000 of two created ponds in Ohio, USA (Weyrauch & Amon 2002) found that translocated spotted salamanders Ambystoma maculatum, but not tiger salamanders Ambystoma tigrinum, reproduced in created ponds.  Four adult spotted salamanders and one egg mass were found in one pond in 1997 and three egg masses in the other pond in 2000.  Metamorphs were produced in both ponds in 1996–1998.  Tiger salamanders were not recorded following their introduction.  Ponds were created in 1995–1997 and were 2–4 m deep.  Vegetation, plankton and organic matter (from local wetlands) were added.  Spotted salamander eggs (600–1,100), larvae (40–850) and metamorphs (4–33) and tiger salamander metamorphs (0–25) were translocated in spring 1996–1998 and 2000.  Monitoring was undertaken using drift-fencing and pitfall traps surrounding ponds, dip-netting and egg counts.

    Study and other actions tested
  5. A before-and-after study in 2004 of a pond in parkland in Lancashire, UK (Neave & Moffat 2007) found that translocated smooth newts Triturus vulgaris established a breeding population.  Newts were translocated to the pond from a nearby building site in 2002 and monitored in spring 2004.

    Study and other actions tested
  6. A replicated study in 2005–2008 in a restored forested wetland in Lake County, Illinois, USA (Sacerdote 2009) found that translocated spotted salamander Ambystoma maculatum eggs hatched and survived as tadpoles in enclosures in restored ponds.  Overall, tadpole survival rates (without effects of pond drying) were similar in restored and donor ponds (15–65 vs 26–81%).  Translocated egg masses were placed in two mesh enclosures (56 x 36 x 36 cm) in each of five restored ponds and three enclosures in three donor ponds annually in 2005–2008.  Tadpoles were monitored two or three times/week until metamorphosis.  Tadpoles were moved if ponds dried.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Smith, R.K., Meredith, H. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Amphibian Conservation. Pages 9-64 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Amphibian Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Amphibian Conservation
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What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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