Saturday, August 22, 2015

[Herpetology • 2009] Cryptotriton sierraminensis • A New Species of Cryptotriton (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from eastern Guatemala

Cryptotriton sierraminensis
Vásquez-Almazán, Rovito, Good & Wake, 2009
Fig. 2. (A) Dorsal view of the holotype of Cryptotriton sierraminensis , with inset showing view of head. (B) Ventral view of a paratype (USAC 1118), showing characteristic yellow coloration.

 A new species of lungless salamander (Plethodontidae) is described from the mountains of eastern Guatemala. The new species is distinguished from all other members of its genus by its yellow ventral coloration. It is geographically closest to its sister taxon, Cryptotriton veraepacis, from which it differs in several osteological features as well as nostril size and shape. Molecular analyses with allozyme loci and mitochondrial DNA also support its distinctiveness from C. veraepacis. This miniaturized species inhabits cloud forest habitats and has been found most commonly in bromeliads.

Fig. 1. Map of known localities for Cryptotriton adelos (crosses), C. alvarezdeltoroi (diamonds) in Mexico, C. veraepacis (squares), C. sierraminensis (circles), C. monzoni (asterisk), and C. wakei (star) in Guatemala, and C. nasalis (triangles) in Honduras. Light gray shading represents areas between 500 m and 1500 m elevation, and dark gray shading represents areas above 1500 m elevation.

Cryptotriton sierraminensis, new species
Sierra de las Minas Hidden Salamander [Figure 2A, 2B]
Cryptotriton sp. A García-París and Wake, 2000

Life history and ecology.— Cryptotriton sierraminensis is an arboreal, bromeliad-dwelling specialist, as are several other members of its genus (C. veraepacis and C. nasalis: Wake,1987; C. adelos : Papenfuss and Wake, 1987). The salamanders were all collected from inside arboreal bromeliads, as were two clutches of unattended eggs (n = 50 and n = 9, respectively). The number of unattended eggs in the larger clutch suggests communal egg-laying without brooding by adults. This behavior, unusual for tropical plethodontids,has been observed in Nototriton barbouri (McCranie andWilson, 1992). Unattended egg clutches have also been reported in Nototriton picadoi (Good and Wake, 1993; Bruce, 1998), Nototriton guanacaste (Good and Wake, 1993), and Oedipina maritima (García-París and Wake, 2000). Bruce(1998) suggested that the small size of Nototriton may prevent them from effectively defending clutches from predators and that egg desiccation may not be a problem for these cloud forest inhabitants. McCranie and Wilson(1992) also state that, as N. barbouri eggs develop during the wet season, parental care to prevent desiccation may not be necessary. The same may be true in C. veraepacis, as the clutches of eggs were found in July, during the wet season in the Sierra de las Minas. Communal laying of unguarded eggs is also reported in Batrachoseps (Jockusch and Mahoney,1997) and some Hemidactylium (Harris and Gill, 1980).

All specimens have been found at elevations of 1700–2200 m. The habitat is composed of cloud forest in the lower montane moist forest life zone (Holdridge, 1967) with a mixture of large broadleaf and pine trees, as well as tree ferns. Trees are covered in a dense growth of epiphytes and mosses. On Volcán de los Monos, Bolitoglossa helmrichi was found in bromeliads and at Finca Planada de Margot; both B. helmrichi and a second, undescribed species of Bolitoglossa (Larson, 1983; Rovito and Vásquez Almazán, unpubl.) were found along with C. veraepacis in bromeliads. Bolitoglossa meliana was found under ground cover objects at both sites in the 1970s, but has not been seen on recent visits to either site.

Distribution.— Cryptotriton sierraminensis is known from only two localities in Municipio Rio Hondo, Department of Zacapa, Guatemala, which are separated by 18.7 km (by air).Both known localities are on the south side of the Sierra de las Minas, between 1700 m and 2200 m. While the locality on Volcán de los Monos is inside the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere reserve, the type locality is outside the reserve andhas no formal protection at present. The species likely occurs at other sites on the southern side of the Sierra de las Minas. 

Etymology.— The specific epithet is an adjective that makes reference to the Sierra de las Minas, Guatemala, where the species occurs.

 Vásquez-Almazán, C. R.; Rovito, S. M.; Good, D. A. and Wake, D. B. 2009. A New Species of Cryptotriton (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from eastern Guatemala. Copeia. 2009 (2): 313–319. doi: 10.1643/CH-08-086

Se describe una nueva especie de la familia Pletodontidae de las montañas del este de Guatemala. Cryptotriton sierraminensis se distingue de todos los otros miembros de su género por su coloración del vientre amarillo. Ésta especie está más cerca geográficamente a su especie hermana, Cryptotriton veraepacis, de la que se distingue por varios aspectos osteológicos y por el tamaño y forma de los orificios nasales. Análisis moleculares con allozimas y ADN mitocondrial apoyan sus diferencias con C. veraepacis. Esta especie miniaturizada vive en los bosques nubosos y ha sido encontrada con mayor frecuencia en bromelias.