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Salamandra lanzai
Lanza's Alpine Salamander; Salamandra di Lanza
Subgenus: Mimandra
family: Salamandridae
subfamily: Salamandrinae

© 2003 Franco Andreone (1 of 23)

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Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Vulnerable (VU)
See IUCN account.
CITES No CITES Listing
Other International Status Vulnerable
National Status None
Regional Status Bern Convention

   

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Description
It is quite similar to the Alpine Salamander (Salamandra atra atra), but differs from this in some morphological peculiarities, among which the size (maximum TL: 160 mm in S. lanzai versus 140 in S. atra), morphology of the tail’s tip (rounded vs. pointed), paravertebral glands (absent vs. present). The head is quite flattened. Dorsal and lateral skin black, without pattern. Small web-like skin structure between digits.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: France, Italy

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The range is restricted with a few localities in a narrow area of Cottian Alps around the Viso Massif, either in SE France (Guil Valley), or in NW Italy (Po, Germanasca, Pellice valleys). An old museum sample (Museum La Specola, Firenze)suggests its historical presence in the Maritime Alps. The species lives mainly on alpine meadows and slopes, often next to brooks. The lowest localities are positioned in mixed and coniferous forests. Altitude range goes from 1200 to about 2600 m. The record of 2800 m, as reported in some recent reports, together with the species' occurrence in the Chisone Valley (Italy), still need to be confirmed.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The species become active during the Alpine summer, from about the beginning of May to October. During this period it is mainly nocturnal, although on the occasion of heavy rains it becomes diurnal. The species appears to be quite territorial, and old individuals show fidelity to the refuges (stones, old roots, etc.). When the weather is not good, the individuals hide under rocks or in deep crevices. S. lanzai is quite long-aged, and it can reach or overpass 20 years of age. The diet consists in a wide range of terrestrial invertebrates, varying upon the period of the season. Little is known about its breeding habits, although observations seem to indicate that the species copulate at the end of the summer. The pregnancy lasts at least 2 years, and the number of salamanderlets is variable from 1 to 6. The youngs are immediately adapted to the terrestrial life.

Trends and Threats
This species is typical of high altitudes, and for this it seemed to be quite safe in terms of habitat alteration. Anyhow, recent observations at the lowest sites (Germanasca Valley, Piedmont) showed very heavy works in and around the stream bed, with the consequent heavy alteration of the neighbouring meadows where a conspicuous population lives. F. Andreone's feeling is that this population has become highly threatened. Nex year (2003) a study will be carried out at this site to understand if there have been remarkable changements in the population abundance. At another Italian site the important summer car traffic seems to threaten the population. Anyhow, the other populations seem to be quite safe, and the species in its whole does not seem to suffer, although it is necessary to carry out regular surveys to establish in detail its distribution and population density.

Relation to Humans
There is no special interactions between local communities and S. lanzai. The species is sometimes known and appreciated as valuable endemism.

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Disturbance or death from vehicular traffic
Drainage of habitat
Dams changing river flow and/or covering habitat
Subtle changes to necessary specialized habitat
Loss of genetic diversity from small population phenomena
Intentional mortality (over-harvesting, pet trade or collecting)

Comments
It is one of the European amphibians with the narrow distribution. For this it is indispensable that special conservation actions will be run in the future. It is very "strange" that this species, characterised by a narrow distribution, alpine repartition (it is the only "true" Alpine endemic vertebrate), a peculiar reproductive mode and singular natural history traits, has not yet been included in important and "political" redlists. It is NOT an asterisked species in the HABITAT DIRECTIVE!! Urgent status changements are necessary. Up to now it has never been found in syntopy with Salamandra salamandra.

References
 

Andreone, F. (1992). ''Observations on the territorial and reproductive behaviour of Salamandra lanzai and considerations about its protection (Amphibia: Salamandridae).'' British Herpetological Society Bulletin, 39, 31-33.  

Andreone, F. and Luiselli, L. (2000). ''The Italian batrachofauna and its conservation status: a statistical assessment.'' Biological Conservation, 96, 197-208.  

Andreone, F. and Sindaco, R. (1999). Erpetologia del Piemonte e della Valle d’Aosta. Atlante degli Anfibi e dei Rettili. Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino (Italy).  

Andreone, F., Clima, V., and De Michelis, S. (1999). ''On the ecology of Salamandra lanzai Nascetti, Andreone, Capula, Bullini, 1988. Size, movements, and influence of climate on activity in a population of the upper Po Valley (Caudata: Salamandridae).'' Herpetozoa, 12(1/2), 3-10.  

Andreone, F., De Michelis, S., and Clima, V. (1996). ''Preferenze ambientali in una popolazione di Salamandra lanzai.'' Studi Trentini di Scienze Naturali - Acta Biologica, 71, 137-143.  

Andreone, F., De Michelis, S., and Clima, V. (1999). ''A montane urodele and its feeding habits: Salamandra lanzai (Amphibia, Urodela, Salamandridae) in the Alps of northwestern Italy.'' Italian Journal of Zoology, 66, 45-49.  

Andreone, F., Miaud, C., Bergò, P., Doglio, S., Stocco, P., Ribéron, A., and Muratet, P. (2002). ''Living at high altitude: testing the natural history traits upon the conservation of Salamandra lanzai.'' Italian Journal of Zoology, (in press).  

Andreone, F., Miaud, C., Bergó, P., Bovero, S., Doglio, S., Guyétant, R, Ribéron, A.and Stocco, P. (2002). ''Research and conservation activity on Salamandra lanzai in Italy and France (Urodela, Salamandridae).'' Proceedings of Third Conference Safeguard the Amphibians, Lugano, June 23-24, 2000. V. Ferri , eds., Cogecstre Edizioni, Penne, 9-19.  

De Michelis, S., Andreone, F., Sindaco, R., and Clima, V. (1999). ''Aspetti ecologici e struttura di una popolazione di Salamandra lanzai (Urodela: Salamandridae) in alta Val Pellice (Provincia di Torino).'' Rivista Piemontese di Storia Naturale, 20, 241-248.  

Gasc, J.-P. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Bonn, Germany.  

Greven, H. and Thiesmeier, B., eds. (1994). Biology of Salamandra and Mertensiella (Mertensiella Supplement 4). DGHT, Bonn.  

Griffiths, R.A. (1996). Newts and Salamanders of Europe. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.  

Miaud, C., Andreone, F., Ribéron, A., De Michelis, S., Clima, V., Castanet, J., Francillon-Vieillot, H., and Guyétant, R. (2001). ''Variations in age, size at maturity and gestation duration among two neighbouring populations of the alpine salamander (Salamandra lanzai).'' Journal of Zoology, London, (254), 251-260.  

Nascetti, G., Andreone, F., Capula, M. and Bullini, L. (1988). ''A new Salamandra species from Southwestern Alps.'' Bollettino del Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali di Torino, 6, 617-638.  

Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.  

Razzeti, E., Bonini, L., and Andreone, F. (2001). ''Lista ragionata di nomi comuni degli anfibi e dei rettili italiani.'' Italian Journal of Zoology, 68, 243-259.  

Ribéron, A., Sotiriou, E., Miaud, C., Andreone, F., and Taberlet, P. (2001). ''Lack of genetic diversity in Salamandra lanzai revealed by cytochrome b gene sequences.'' Copeia, 2002(1), 229-232.



Written by Franco Andreone and Sergius L. Kuzmin (f.andreone AT libero.it and ipe51 AT yahoo.com), Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali di Torino (Italy) and Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
First submitted 1999-11-10
Edited by Meredith J. Mahoney and Franco Andreone (2008-01-05)



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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2014. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed: Jul 26, 2014).

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