Giant Palm Salamander, Doflein's Salamander, Alto Verapaz Salamander
© 2014 Dr. Joachim Nerz (1 of 36)
Adult female coloration (in Honduran females) is pale brown to dark brown dorsally and may be mottled with rust-red and tan (McCranie and Wilson 2002). Scattered, irregular dark brown spots are present, usually centered on the costal grooves dorsolaterally (McCranie and Wilson 2002). A single subadult female from Honduras was purplish-brown with irregular cream-colored blotches on the body and tail (McCranie and Wilson 2002).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Guatemala, Honduras
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Bolitoglossa dofleini is considered terrestrial (McCranie and Wilson 2002), although Raffaëlli (2007) notes that females may be more terrestrial, preferring to take cover in leaf litter, and males may be more arboreal. This salamander has been found on cardamom plants, which grow to 2-3 m above the ground (Raffaëlli 2007).
This species is likely to have direct development, as do other members of the genus Bolitoglossa. B. dofleini takes 10-12 years to achieve sexual maturity (Cruz et al. 2004).
The salamander preys on invertebrates, and in turn is preyed upon by the false coral snake Urotheca elapoides (Lee 1996). A video of B. dofleini feeding (made by Stephen Deban) can be viewed here.
Trends and Threats
B. dofleini occurs in several protected areas in Honduras: Parque Nacional Cusuco, Parque Nacional Cerro Azul and the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Texiguat (Cruz et al. 2004). Chytridiomycosis appears to be widespread in at least one of those protected areas (Parque Nacional Cusuco) with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infections now having been found in half of the park's endangered amphibian species (Kolby et al. 2009). Amphibian populations in the park have been undergoing sudden unexplained crashes, likely because of chytrid infection (Cruz et al. 2004; Kolby et al. 2009). B. dofleini may be susceptible to chytridiomycosis since a group of six captive B. dofleini imported into Belgium appeared healthy initially but succumbed to chytridiomycosis (confirmed by histology; Pasmans et al. 2004).
Females are more frequently encountered in the leaf litter and are thus more frequently collected for the international pet trade (Raffaëlli 2007). Since this species takes a long time to reach reproductive age (10-12 years), collecting for the pet trade may have a significant negative impact on smaller local populations.
In Guatemala, this species is found in two protected areas: Parque Nacional Laguna Lachuá and the Reserva de Manantiales Montañas del Mico (Cruz et al. 2004).
Relation to Humans
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
To view a movie of this salamander feeding, click here.
The specific epithet honors Franz J. Theodor Doflein, a naturalist from Germany (McCranie and Wilson 2002).Defenders of Wildlife and SSN have recently recommended that the United States advocate for inclusion of Bolitoglossa dofleini in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), which would recommend controls on commercial trade in this species. B. dofleini does reproduce until females are 10-12 years old; the collection of predominantly females for commercial trade may have significant negative impact on smaller populations. In addition, chytrid has been decimating amphibian species in at least one of the localities where B. dofleini is found (Cusuco National Park, Honduras). B. dofleini is known to be susceptible to chytridiomycosis in captivity (Pasmans et al. 2004).
However, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that the U. S. is not planning to propose inclusion of B. dofleini under CITES Appendix II unless "significant additional information is received" about the population and trade status, or assistance is requested by a range country (Belize, Guatemala, or Honduras). The deadline for submitting comments and information to USF&W is September 11, 2009. Species submitted for consideration by the United States and other CITES member countries will be discussed at the CoP15 meeting in Qatar on March 13-25, 2010.
Comments pertaining to species proposals should be sent to the Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 110, Arlington, VA 22203, or via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via fax at: 703–358–2276. Comments pertaining to proposed resolutions, decisions, and agenda items should be sent to the Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203, or via e-mail at: CoP15@fws.gov, or via fax at: 703–358–2298.
For further information pertaining to species proposals contact: Rosemarie Gnam, Chief, Division of Scientific Authority, phone 703–358– 1708, fax 703–358–2276, e-mail: email@example.com. For further information pertaining to resolutions, decisions, and agenda items contact: Robert R. Gabel, Chief, Division of Management Authority, phone 703– 358–2095, fax 703–358–2298, e-mail: CoP15@fws.gov.
Campbell, J. A. (1998). Amphibians and Reptiles of Northern Guatamala, the Yucatan, and Belize. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma.
Cruz, G., Wilson, L. D., McCranie, R., Acevedo, M.. Wake, D. B., Lee, J., Papenfuss, T., Castañeda, F., and Rovito, S. 2004. Bolitoglossa dofleini. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 02 August 2009.
Kolby, J. E., Padgett-Flohr, G. E., and Field, R. (2009). ''Amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Cusuco National Park, Honduras.'' Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, Special Edition 4, preprint 3. Published online May 6, 2009.
Lee, J. C. (1996). The Amphibians and Reptiles of the Yucatan Peninsula. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.
McCranie, J. R., Wake, D. B., and Wilson, L. D. (1996). ''The taxonomic status of Bolitoglossa schmidti, with comments on the biology of the Mesoamerican salamander Bolitoglossa dofleini (Caudata: Plethodontidae).'' Caribbean Journal of Science, 32, 395-398.
McCranie, J. R., and Wilson, L. D. (2002). ''The Amphibians of Honduras.'' Contributions to Herpetology, Vol 19. K. Adler and T. D. Perry, eds., Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca, New York.
Pasmans, F., Zwart, P., and Hyatt, A. D. (2004). ''Chytridiomycosis in the Central American bolitoglossine salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini).'' The Veterinary Record, 154, 153.
Written by Theresa Ly (tea_ly AT berkeley.edu), UC Berkeley
First submitted 2004-03-23
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2010-09-21)
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