Bolitoglossa zacapensis
Zacapa Salamander
Subgenus: Magnadigita
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
Species Description: Rovito SM, Vasquez-Almazan CR, Papenfuss TJ 2010 A new species of Bolitoglossa from the Sierra de las Minas, Guatemala. J Herptol 44:516-525.

© 2011 Sean Michael Rovito (1 of 6)

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


Diagnosis: A medium-sized member (SVL of males 36.5–45.3 mm, mean 42.1, N = 12; SVL of females 40.1–52.3 mm, mean 45.7, = 5 13) of the rostrata species group of the subgenus Magnadigita (Parra-Olea et al., 2004). Differs from all Guatemalan members of subgenera Bolitoglossa, Nanotriton, Mayamandra, and Pachymandra by lack of full interdigital webbing. Less interdigital webbing than close relatives B. engelhardti or B. cuchumatana, but more than B. rostrata (Elias 1984). Distinguished from other members of rostrata species group (B. helmrichi, B. cuchumatana, B. rostrata, and B. engelhardti) and all members of dunni species group (Parra-Olea et al. 2004) except B. dunni, B. longissima, and B. porrasorum by having more maxillary teeth on average (males 48–80, mean 71.8, N = 12; females 52–85, mean 75.2, N = 13) (Wake and Brame 1969; Elias 1984; McCranie and Wilson 1993, 2002; McCranie and Koehler 1999). Also distinguished from B. engelhardti by its larger size (Elias 1984) and from B. rostrata by its lack of dark red-brown dorsal color. Distinguished from B. dunni and B. longissima by its smaller size and presence of faint golden dorsolateral stripe in many specimens, and from B. porrasorum by its smaller body size (Greenbaum 2004). Differs from the two Guatemalan members of the dunni species group, B. morio and B. flavimembris, by its longer tail for its body size (Greenbaum 2004) and brown dorsal coloration. Distinguished from all members of the franklinispecies group (Parra-Olea et al. 2004) (B. franklini, B. lincolni, and B. meliana) by its brown dorsal coloration, less robust body, and smaller body size (Schmidt 1936; Stuart 1943; Wake and Lynch 1982).

Resembles the sympatric B. helmrichi closely in external appearance, but B. zacapensis has a uniform pale tan color on the underside of the tail and lacks any mottling on the ventral side, whereas the subcaudal surface is orange or pink in B. helmrichi with mottling on the venter, gular region, and underside of limbs. Bolitoglossa zacapensis has less interdigital webbing compared with B. helmrichi: sinuosity = 1.90 + 0.11 [mean + SD, N = 10] vs. mean 1.80 + 0.07, N = 14 for B. helmrichi (Jaekel 2002; Jaekel and Wake 2007). Compared with B. helmrichi, B. zacapensis has a relatively longer tail (males: TL/ SVL 0.696–1.032, mean 0.909, N = 12 for B. zacapensis vs. 0.504–1.089, mean 0.814, N = 25 for B. helmrichi; t = 2.344, P = 0.030; females: 0.701–1.012, mean 0.887, N = 10 for B. zacapensis vs. 0.652–0.972, mean 0.781, N = 20 for B. helmrichi; t = 2.820, P = 0.015), and relatively shorter (significantly shorter for males) fore and hind limbs (males: FLL/SVL 0.254–0.286, mean 0.267, N = 12 for B. zacapensis vs. 0.246– 0.322, mean 0.282, N = 25 for B. helmrichi; t = 3.466, P = 0.002; HLL/SVL 0.247–0.289, mean 0.270, N = 12 for B. zacapensis vs. 0.267–0.339, mean 0.296, N = 25 for B. helmrichi; t = 4.644, P = 0.0001; females: FLL/SVL 0.238–0.279, mean 0.258, N = 13 for B. zacapensis vs. 0.245–0.286, mean 0.265, N = 21 for B. helmrichi; t = 1.736, P = 0.095; HLL/SVL 0.540–0.296, mean 0.273, N = 13 for B. zacapensis vs. 0.257–0.306, mean 0.282, N = 21 for B. helmrichi; t = 1.695, P = 0.106).

Description: A moderately sized species of Bolitoglossa. Head moderately broad; snout truncate; eyes weakly protuberant, barely visible when viewed from below; relatively shallow postorbital groove extends posteriorly from eye to the posterior end of the mandible, where it proceeds sharply ventrally and continues weakly across the gular region. Maxillary teeth abundant, premaxillary teeth anterior to line of maxillary teeth, do not pierce lip. Premaxillary teeth more numerous in females than in males. Moderate number of vomerine teeth extending in an irregular row just past outer edge of internal nares. Oval mental gland present in males. Labial protuberances moderately well developed. Tail somewhat rectangular at base, becoming more round towards tip; weakly constricted at base; tail relatively long, approximately same length as body. Limbs slender and relatively short; adpressed limbs separated by approximately two costal grooves. Webbing reduced with two phalanges of Digit III free of webbing on both hands and feet. Digit tips bluntly rounded with distinct subterminal pads; digits in order of increasing length I-II-IVIII on hands and I-II-V-IV-III on feet. Phalangeal formulae 1-2-3-2 for hand and 1-2-3-3-2 for foot. Brown in color; some individuals with thin yellowish lines running from head to hind limbs.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Guatemala

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
Bolitoglossa zacapensis is known only from the vicinity of the type locality in the Departmento de Zacapa, Guatemala. It may occur somewhat more widely on the poorly explored southern slope of the Sierra de las Minas. All specimens have been found at elevations between 1,600 and 1,750 m asl. The habitat is composed of cloud forest 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. The salamanders were all collected from inside arboreal bromeliads.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Bolitoglossa zacapensis is presumed to be a direct-developer. This species was found to be fairly abundant in arboreal bromeliads during a visit to the type locality of the Sierra de las Minas in 2007, as it was during a visit to the site in the 1970s. Syntopic species include B. helmrichi and the recently described salamander Cryptotriton sierraminensis, which were found along with B. zacapensis in the bromeliads. Bolitoglossa meliana was found under ground cover objects at the type locality in the 1970s but was not found on a recent visit.

Trends and Threats
Although much of the Sierra de las Minas is protected as a biosphere reserve, clearing of habitat (particularly in the buffer areas of the reserve) continues, and forest fires of anthropogenic origin also threaten the habitat of this species.

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities

Species authority: Rovito et al. (2010).

Etymology: Named for the Departmento de Zacapa, Guatemala, in which it was discovered and likely is restricted to. The authors of the original description suggest "Zacapa Salamander" as its English common name.


Elias, P. (1984). ''Salamanders of the northwestern highlands of Guatemala.'' Contributions in Science, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 348, 1-20.

Greenbaum, E. (2004). ''A new species of Bolitoglossa (Amphibia: Caudata: Plethodontidae) from montane forests in Guatemala and El Salvador.'' Journal of Herpetology, 38, 411-421.

McCranie, J. R., and Koehler, G. (1999). ''A new species of salamander of the Bolitoglossa dunni group from Cerro El Pital, Honduras and El Salvador (Amphibia, Caudata, Plethodontidae).'' Senckenbergiana Biologica, 78, 225-229.

McCranie, J. R., and Wilson, L. D. (1993). ''A review of the Bolitoglossa dunni group (Amphibia: Caudata) from Honduras with the description of three new species.'' Herpetologica, 49, 1-15.

Parra-Olea, G., García-París, M., and Wake, D. B. (2004). ''Molecular diversification of salamanders of the tropical American genus Bolitoglossa (Caudata: Plethodontidae) and its evolutionary and biogeographical implications.'' Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 81, 325-346.

Rovito, S. M., Vásquez-Almazán, C. R., and Papenfuss, T. J. (2010). ''A new species of Bolitoglossa (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from the Sierra de las Minas, Guatemala.'' Journal of Herpetology, 44, 516-525.

Schmidt, K. P. (1936). ''Guatemalan salamanders of the genus Oedipus.'' Zoological Series, Field Museum of Natural History , 20, 135-166.

Stuart, L. C. (1943). ''Taxonomic and geographic comments on Guatemalan salamanders of the genus Oedipus.'' Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 56, 1-33.

Wake, D. B., and Brame, A. H. (1969). ''Systematics and evolution of neotropical salamanders of the Bolitoglossa helmrichi group.'' Contributions in Science (Los Angeles), 175, 1-40.

Wake, D. B., and Lynch, J. F. (1982). ''Evolutionary relationships among Central American salamanders of the Bolitoglossa franklini group, with a description of a new species from Guatemala.'' Herpetologica, 38, 257–272.

Written by Sean M. Rovito (smrovito AT, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UC Berkeley
First submitted 2011-01-21
Edited by Michelle S. Koo, Kellie Whittaker (2011-01-24)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2011 Bolitoglossa zacapensis: Zacapa Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 24, 2017.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 24 Mar 2017.

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