The species is a small and slender salamander, dark brown or black in coloration with extensively webbed digits, rounded digit tips and defined subterminal pads. Adults are 76 - 97 mm in total length. Males are 43 mm in standard length and females are 38 - 46 mm in standard length. The head width is 14 - 15% of the standard length. Eyes are large and protuberant. Adults have 32 - 43 maxillary teeth and 19 - 24 vomerine teeth. The leg length is 23 - 26% of the standard length. In males, there is 1 costal fold between adpressed limbs, whereas in females, there are 2 - 3. The tail is 52 - 56% of the total length. It has extensive digital webbing and rounded digital tips. Less than 2 phalanges are free of web on all digits. It also has defined subterminal pads (Wake and Brame 1963).
In life, the species is mostly dark brown or black on the dorsal surfaces, with some tan, orange, pink, or white spots and blotches. The venter is dark and the coloration is nearly uniform except for some purplish to pinkish blotches (Savage 2002).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Costa Rica
Endemic to central Costa Rica. This species is known from two localities on the Atlantic versant: the Río Chitiria, near Turrialba, and Tapantí, in Cartago Province (Bolaños et al. 2008). It is found in premontane wet forest and rainforest at elevations of 775 - 1550 m asl (Savage 2002).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Bolitoglossa epimela is nocturnal and scansorial (Savage 2002). It forages on elevated surfaces such as logs and leaves within a meter of the ground (Bolaños et al. 2008). It can walk upside down on the bottoms of leaves due to the extensive webbing of its hands and feet (Wake and Brame 1963).
Trends and Threats
B. epimela appears to be rare, and is known from only ten specimens. Habitat loss threatens this species. At the type locality of Río Chitiria, small-scale logging has nearly eradicated the forest. Although it occurred in what is now the Parque Nacional Tapantí, it has not been detected there in recent years and may be extirpated there; it is also not clear whether the Tapantí population might have belonged to another, as-yet-undescribed species (Bolaños et al. 2008).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).
Bolaños, F., Wake, D., and Savage, J. 2008. Bolitoglossa epimela. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.1. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 09 April 2010.
Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
Wake, D. B., and Brame, A. H. (1963). ''A new species of Costa Rican salamander, genus Bolitoglossa.'' Revista de Biología Tropical, 11, 63-73.
Written by Mae Huo (mxhuo AT berkeley.edu), University of California, Berkeley
First submitted 2009-11-02
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2010-04-09)
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