Uéno’s Crocodile Newt, Chiang Mai Crocodile Newt
Species Description: Nishikawa K, Khonsue W, Pomchote P, Matsui M. 2013. Two new species of Tylototriton from Thailand (Amphibia: Urodela.Salamandridae). Zootaxa 3737: 261-179.
© 2017 Axel Hernandez (1 of 10)
Author: Axel Hernandez
Tylototriton uyenoi NISHIKAWA, KHONSUE, POMCHOTE, & MATSUI 2013
Diagnosis and taxonomyThe holotype (KUHE 19147) is an adult male collected at the Phuping Rajanives Palace in Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand (18 48’16’’N, 98 54’9’’E, 1,436 m a.s.l.) together with some paratypes in August of 1994. The species name was chosen in honor of SHUN-ICHI UÉNO who collected some of the paratypes. According to a recent phylogeny, T. uyenoi is clustered with T. anguliceps and to some extent with T. yangi. Formerly considered a relict population of T. verrucosus in Thailand, this species is characterized by a large size, which renders it the largest urodele of Thailand. Females can grow to 17.5 and males to 15 cm in TL. Males have more robust limbs, a relatively longer tail, and a longer cloacal slit than females. The species has a rough skin with fine granules, the dorsolateral bony ridges on the head are prominent although narrow, the vertebral ridge is distinct and slightly segmented, the 13 - 15 dorsolateral glandular warts are prominent and distinct, the limbs long and thin, and the tips of the fingers and toes overlap substantially when the limbs are adpressed along the body. The tail is thin. The dorsal side of the head, upper and lower lips, vertebral ridge, dorsolateral glandular warts, limbs, cloacal region, and the entire tail are orange to reddish brown while the ground color is dark brown. Its skull bones and the parotoid glands are much less pronounced than in Yaotriton (RAFFAËLLI 2013). Also, its head is wider and longer and the tail higher. This species is very similar to T. shanjing, from which it differs by its darker color pattern, larger size, and more massive body.
A wide morphological variety within this taxon was observed in populations native to northern Thailand and probably the adjacent mountains in Myanmar, separating it into two geographic groups (northwestern and northeastern). An in-depth study should investigate these and some isolated populations that might warrant taxonomic divisions (HERNANDEZ 2016b).
DistributionT. uyenoi is distributed on the highlands of northern Thailand from the Dawana and the Daen Lao Hills (western group) and from the Phi Pan Nam to the Inthanon Range (eastern group). More precisely, it is known from the following localities: Doi Suthep, Doi Pui, Doi Inthanon (Royal Garden Siribhume), Doi Pha Hom Pok, Doi Khun Chiang Khian, Doi Ang Khang, Doi Chiang Dao (also reported by MICHAELS 2015), Doi Phukha, Namtok Mae Surin (Mae Hong Son Province). The Daen Lao Hills have a network of mountains that extend to the southern Shan states and Karen Hills (Kayah and Kayin States bordering Mae Hong Son) in Myanmar and are connected to the northwestern mountains of Thailand where this species very likely occurs as well.
Habitat, ethology and ecologyAccording to our previous study T. uyenoi inhabits similar habitats as T. panhai. Adult individuals were found in subtropical, moist, broad-leaf forests, dry dipterocarp, and mixed deciduous forests near bodies of water at moderate elevations between 1,450 and 1,900 m a.s.l. (HERNANDEZ 2016b). Water temperatures here range from 13.0 to 22.0 °C all year round (POMCHOTE et al. 2008). According to NISHIKAWA et al. (2013a), the type series was collected in artificial ponds. The species is also found in natural or artificial ditches and slow-flowing streams, with an average water depth of 38.2 cm (range 9 – 120 cm). According to MICHAELS (2015), adults and a single larva of T. uyenoi were recorded from the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary (19.367°N, 98.833°E; 1,200 m a.s.l.) in a pond in bamboo scrub at the edge of a forest at night, and under wads of cut grass during the day, in the vicinity of the Khun Huay Mae Kok Guard Station. This pond was shallow and sparsely vegetated with a deep substrate of reddish silt, and water values were pH 6.4, GH 3°d, KH 3°d, NO2- 0 mg/l, and NO3- 0 mg/l. The adult specimens were similar in size to those reported by POMCHOTE et al. (2008) and NISHIKAWA et al. (2013), and matched in appearance those pictured by GERLACH (2012). At Doi Inthanon National Park (approximately 19.385°N, 98.841°E; above 1,000 m a.s.l.), an adult female was collected at night in disturbed pine and grassy scrub near a campsite. The species has an unspecialized diet, and mainly feed on Hygrophila (pond snails), Hymenoptera (ants), Dermaptera (earwigs), Orthoptera (crickets), Coleoptera (beetles) and Oligochaeta (earthworms).
ReproductionThe beginning of the rainy season in May/June triggers breeding activity in the natural environment. Males are the first to arrive at small forest ponds and streams covered with dense vegetation. Mating takes place in water with a temperature of 18 °C. A male addressed by a female will respond by wagging his tail in the manner known from Triturus spp. prior to amplecting her by taking hold of one of the female’s front legs with its own. This mating behavior was also reported from other Tylototriton spp. (FLECK 1997, 2010a,b). One mating event was observed on land in a terrarium at the conservation center for this species in Doi Suthep in August 2014, with the eggs being deposited in the crevices of the bark of a branch ten days later (pers. obs.). In general, oviposition follows a mating event after two to three weeks. A clutch comprises 15 to 20 eggs that are deposited near a body of water on the roots of shrubs, trunks of banana trees, or grass. Sixteen individual eggs were seen hanging from a branch at a pond in Doi Pui on 26 August 2014 (pers. obs.). Some larvae of 5.5 cm in total length (TL) were observed in artificial ponds at Doi Pui around the end of August 2014. Larval cannibalism is known.
Status, threats and conservationThis species is protected by Thai conservation laws and classified as “Vulnerable” in the Thai Red List. It is more abundant in the territory than T. panhai, but a backup program was nevertheless initiated in 2005 at the Doi Suthep National Park in Phu Ping Palace and at Ratchaniwet Doi Inthanon in the Siribhume Royal Gardens (POMCHOTE pers. comm. 2014).
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Oct 2017.
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