Nyctanolis pernix is a long-legged, slender, scansorial salamander with a wide and flattened head, protuberant eyes, small nostrils, and labial protuberances (more pronounced in males). SVL is 70 mm and total length is 150 mm. The tail is slender and cylindrical with no constriction at the base, and relatively long. The forelimbs and hindlimbs overlap when adpressed along the flank. Digits are elongate and are truncated at the tip; no webbing is present. There may be as many as 15 premaxillary teeth. Premaxillary bones are paired, unlike all other tropical salamanders. The tongue pad is round. In addition to having larger labial protuberances, males also have a pronounced mental gland under the chin.
The ground color is black, with dorsal spots of deep crimson, orange, light yellow and cream from the eyelids to the tail tip (Elias and Wake 1983).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Guatemala, Mexico
This species occurs in Mexico and Guatemala, at four known localities. In Mexico, N. pernix is found in southern Chiapas, in the Parque Nacional Lagunas de Montebello. In western Guatemala it has been found on the north-eastern slopes of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes and in central Guatemala it occurs on the mountains of Alta Verapaz and the mountains of Baja Verapaz. The altitudinal range is 1,200-1,610 m asl. The habitat consists of humid pine-oak and cloudforest. In northern Chiapas, Mexico, an individual was collected adjacent to a cave near a creek downstream from the main lake. Individuals have been found under moss and bark and were most active on rainy evenings (Elias and Wake 1983; Stuart et al. 2008).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
It is believed to be a direct-developer, like other bolitoglossines (Stuart et al. 2008).
Trends and Threats
This species is rare and thought to be declining, with only a single record in Mexico and three known localities in Guatemala. It is protected in Mexico. Its range overlaps with several protected areas in Guatemala: Parque Nacional Lagunas de Montebello, the Biotopo del Quetzal in Baja Verapaz, a privately held reserve in Alta Verapaz, and in the proposed Parque Nacional Sierra de los Cuchumatanes. The main threat is habitat loss from deforestation and increased agriculture as well as expanding human settlement. This species does not tolerate disturbed habitat (Stuart et al. 2008).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Elias, P. and Wake, D. (1983). ''Nyctanolis pernix, a new genus and species of plethodontid salamander from Northwestern Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico.'' Advances in Herpetology and Evolutionary Biology: Essays in Honor of Ernest E. Williams. G. J. Rhodin and K. Miyata, eds., Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard, Cambridge.
Parra-Olea, G., García-París, M., and Wake, D. B. (1999). ''Status of some populations of Mexican salamanders (Amphibia: Plethodontidae).'' Revista de Biología Tropical, 47, 217-223.
Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., and Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.
Wake, D. B., and Elias, P. (1983). ''New genera and a new species of Central American salamanders, with a review of the tropical genera (Amphibia, Caudata, Plethodontidae).'' Contributions of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 345, 1-19.
Written by Kevin Gin (Kevgin AT berkeley.edu), UC Berkeley
First submitted 2004-03-08
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2010-02-01)
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