Amphibian populations are declining at an alarming pace in many parts of the world. Consequently, as part of the strategy for establishing a 360 km2 conservation and reference area for amphibians in central Norway, 341 lentic water bodies were surveyed to investigate and briefly describe their hydrography and the occurrence of the newts Triturus vulgaris (L.) and T. cristatus (Laurenti) in the area. In particular we investigated the factors that could explain the presence of the respective newt species, including biotic and abiotic factors. The multiple logistic regression analyses suggested that the presence of T. cristatus was best explained by altitude and ion concentration, both in a nonlinear fashion, whereas fish had a negative effect on T. cristatus, which was never found coexisting with fish. The presence of T. vulgaris was best explained by altitude (linear relationship) and ion concentration (convex relationship), besides the occurrence of T. cristatus. Triturus vulgaris was occasionally found to occur at low densities in ponds having fish. For both species the probability of presence was higher when the opposite newt species was present. pH influenced both species in a convex nonlinear fashion with highest probability of presence around pH 6.5. This area is valuable for conservation, monitoring and reference for marginal amphibian populations. Any decline in their abundance would be discovered relatively quickly, and likely causes could be inferred. It can also serve as a reference area for future comparative studies of amphibians elsewhere.