Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Life History and Behavior
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:1112
Specimens with Barcodes:703
Species With Barcodes:138
The Plethodontidae, or lungless salamanders, are a family of salamanders. Most species are native to the Western Hemisphere, from British Columbia to Brazil, although a few species are found in Sardinia, Europe south of the Alps, and South Korea. In terms of number of species, they are by far the largest group of salamanders.
A number of features distinguish the plethodontids from other salamanders. Most significantly, they lack lungs, conducting respiration through their skin, and the tissues lining their mouths. Another distinctive feature is the presence of a vertical slit between the nostril and upper lip, known as the "nasolabial groove". The groove is lined with glands, and enhances the salamander's chemoreception.
Adult lungless salamanders have four limbs, with four toes on the fore limbs, and usually with five on the hind limbs. Many species lack an aquatic larval stage. In many species, eggs are laid on land, and the young hatch already possessing an adult body form. Many species have a projectile tongue and hyoid apparatus, which they can fire almost a body length at high speed to capture prey.
Measured in individual numbers, they are very successful animals where they occur. In some places, they make up the dominant biomass of vertebrates. It has been estimated that there are 1.88 billion individuals of the species Southern Redback salamander in just one district of Mark Twain National Forest alone, about 1,400 tons of biomass. Due to their modest size and low metabolism, they are able to feed on prey such as Collembola, which are usually too small for other terrestrial vertebrates. This gives them access to a whole ecological niche with minimal competition from other groups.
|Subfamily||Genus, scientific name, and author||Common name||Species|
|Batrachoseps Bonaparte, 1839||Slender salamanders|
|Bolitoglossa Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854||Tropical climbing salamanders|
|Bradytriton Wake & Elias, 1983||Finca Chiblac salamander|
|Chiropterotriton Taylor, 1944||Splay-foot salamanders|
|Cryptotriton García-París & Wake, 2000||Hidden salamanders|
|Dendrotriton Wake & Elias, 1983||Bromeliad salamanders|
|Nototriton Wake & Elias, 1983||Moss salamanders|
|Nyctanolis Elias & Wake, 1983||Long-limbed salamanders|
|Oedipina Keferstein, 1868||Worm salamanders|
|Parvimolge Taylor, 1944||Tropical dwarf salamanders|
|Pseudoeurycea Taylor, 1944||False brook salamanders|
|Thorius Cope, 1869||Minute salamanders|
|Hemidactylium Tschudi, 1838||Four-toed salamander|
|Aneides Baird, 1851||Climbing salamanders|
|Atylodes Gistel, 1868||Sardinian cave salamander|
|Desmognathus Baird, 1850||Dusky salamanders|
|Ensatina Gray, 1850||Ensatinas|
|Hydromantes Gistel, 1848||Web-toed and European cave salamanders|
|Karsenia Min, Yang, Bonett, Vieites, Brandon & Wake, 2005||Korean crevice salamanders|
|Phaeognathus Highton, 1961||Red Hills salamanders|
|Plethodon Tschudi, 1838||Slimy and mountain salamanders|
|Speleomantes Dubois, 1984||Cave salamanders|
|Eurycea Rafinesque, 1822||North American brook salamanders|
|Gyrinophilus Cope, 1869||Spring salamanders|
|Pseudotriton Tschudi, 1838||Mud and red salamanders|
|Stereochilus Cope, 1869||Many-lined salamander|
|Urspelerpes Camp, Peterman, Milanovich, Lamb, Maerz & Wake, 2009||Patch-nosed salamander|
- Lanza, B., Vanni, S., & Nistri, A. (1998). Cogger, H.G. & Zweifel, R.G., ed. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 74–75. ISBN 0-12-178560-2.
- Hairston, N.G., Sr. 1987. Community ecology and salamander guilds. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.
- Salamanders a more abundant food source in forest ecosystems than previously thought
- Min, M.S., S. Y. Yang, R. M. Bonett, D. R. Vieites, R. A. Brandon & D. B. Wake. (2005). Discovery of the first Asian plethodontid salamander. Nature (435), 87-90 (5 May 2005)
- Camp, C. D. et al. (2009). "A new genus and species of lungless salamander (family Plethodontidae) from the Appalachian highlands of the south-eastern United States". Journal of Zoology 279: 1–9. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00593.x.
- Frost et al. 2006. THE AMPHIBIAN TREE OF LIFE (http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/dspace/bitstream/2246/5781/1/B297.pdf)
Several salamanders that primarily or exclusively inhabit caves have commonly been termed “cave salamanders”. With one highly notable exception, all are members of the family Plethodontidae ("lungless salamanders"). Some of these species and genera have developed special, even extreme, adaptations to their subterranean environments, such as an absence of eyes or pigmentation (e.g., Proteus anguinus, Eurycea rathbuni).
The first intense and continuous scientific study of a cave animal was of a cave salamander, Proteus anguinus. It was originally identified as a "dragon's larva" by Janez Vajkard Valvasor in 1689. Later, the Austrian naturalist Joseph Nicolaus Lorenz described it scientifically in 1768.
Another early scientific description of a cave salamander was performed by Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in 1822 while he was a professor of botany and natural history at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. The species he described was known to the locals as a "cave puppet" and is now known to be Eurycea lucifuga. His discovery was not surprising at the time because E. lucifuga inhabits near the entrance of caves, thus an in-depth exploration was not required; and, E. lucifuga is neither blind nor depigmented.
List of cave salamanders
- The following species have commonly been termed “the cave salamander” without any additional modifier or adjective:
- Eurycea (of North America) and Speleomantes (of Italy and France) are two genera of lungless salamanders with so many individual species termed “cave salamanders” that the entire group is sometimes so designated
- Individual species of “cave salamander”, generally with an additional modifier or adjective in their name, include the following:
- Eurycea rathbuni, the Texas cave salamander, or Texas blind salamander
- Eurycea tridentifera, the Honey Creek Cave Blind Salamander, or Comal Blind Salamander
- Eurycea spelaea, the Ozark Blind Cave Salamander, or Grotto Salamander
- Speleomantes ambrosii, Ambrosi's Cave Salamander, or French Cave Salamander, or Spezia Cave Salamander
- Speleomantes imperialis, Imperial Cave Salamander, or Scented Cave Salamander
- Speleomantes supramontis, the Supramonte Cave Salamander
- Speleomantes italicus, the Italian cave salamander
- Speleomantes flavus, the Monte Albo Cave Salamander, or Stefani's Salamander
- Speleomantes strinatii, Strinati's cave salamander
- Speleomantes sarrabusensis, Sarrabus' cave salamander
- Gyrinophilus palleucus, the Tennessee Cave Salamander
- G. p. necturoides, the Big Mouth Cave salamander
- Gyrinophilus gulolineatus, the Berry cave salamander
- Atylodes genei, the brown cave salamander, or Gene's cave salamander, Sardinian cave salamander, or simply Sardinian salamander
- Chiropterotriton mosaueri, Cave Splayfoot Salamander
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