Almost nothing is known about the biology of the recently described, enigmatic Lao Newt (Laotriton laoensis). Using a combination of field surveys and village interviews, we determined that its geographic range is restricted to a small area in northern Laos. Aquatic adults occur in pools of small, cold, slightly acidic, flowing streams that traverse a variety of vegetation types at elevations above 1,100 m. Mark–recapture estimated that aquatic adults are locally abundant where they occur. Analysis of stomach contents found that the species consumes a wide variety of invertebrates and vertebrates, including large prey, and females eat conspecific eggs. Aquatic courtship takes place during the coldest and driest part of the year, and eggs are laid over a long period between dead leaves that accumulate on the bottom of stream pools. Larvae are aquatic and metamorphose into terrestrial efts. The species is threatened from overharvesting for food, medicine, and especially the international pet trade.
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Vol. 46 • No. 1