Andrias sligoi (Boulenger, 1924)
South China Giant Salamander
|Species Description: Boulenger EG. 1924. On a new giant salamander, living in the Society’s Gardens. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1924: 173–174.|
Taxonomic Notes: Yan et al. (Current Biology 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.004) found that Chinese Giant Salamander populations recognized as Andrias davidianus likely belonged to at least five cryptic species. Turvey, Marr, Barnes, Brace, Tapley, Murphy, Zhao, and Cunningham (Ecology and Evolution 2019 DOI: 10.1002/3ce3.5257) resurrected the name A. sligoi (Boulenger 1924) and applied it to one of these cryptic species. The geographic origin of the holotype of A. sligoi is uncertain, so the exact distribution of the species is unclear.
This species was first described as Megalobatrachus sligoi by Boulenger (1924). The holotype specimen was found in the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens, but it was soon evident that it originated from the mainland and had been transported over. Boulenger suggested that this was a separate species because it differed significantly in morphology from other giant salamanders in China and Japan, which he grouped all under a single taxon, Megalobatachus muximus, and which he believed had no morphological distinctions. Those species are now known as Andrias davidanus and A. japonicus, respectively. However a third, unnamed Andrias has also been identified from Huangshan in the Anhui Province of China (Yan et al. 2018, Turvey et al. 2019). Boulenger (1924) suggested that A. sligoi differed from other Andrias species in that the former has a longer, flatter, and smoother head (vs. covered in tubercles), nostrils that were much more widely separated and had a larger distance between its eye and labial border - 3.5 times greater than the distance between its nostrils compared to a 1.5 times difference in other species (Boulenger 1924). However, these supposed morphological differences should be considered with caution, in light of Boulenger’s mistaken belief that all other giant salamanders could be grouped into a single species; the other specimens he examined probably did not represent the full phylogenetic and biogeographic spectrum that is now known to exist. Megalobatrachus sligoi eventually became synonymized with A. davidianus (Thorn 1968), a situation that was overturned in 2019 (Turvey et al. 2019).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: China
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Trends and Threats
Relation to Humans
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Prior to 2018, it was believed that there were only two species of Andrias: A. davidianus, found in China, and A. japonicus, found in Japan (Turvey et al. 2019). However, using Bayesian Inference of partial cytb, COI, and D-loop mtDNA and nuclear SNPs of modern, wild-caught samples Yan et al. (2018) identified at least five cryptic species of giant salamanders throughout China. Turvey et al. (2019) followed up on this study with Bayesian analyses of mitogenomic sequences using Boulenger’s specimen as well as other Chinese giant salamander museum specimens and tissues collected before widespread transplanting occurred, in order to further clarify Andrias phylogenetic relationships and historical biogeography. They identified at least three separate Andrias lineages in China and determined that the holotype of M. sligoi, along with another specimen, represents a clade native to the Nanling Mountain/Pearl River Basin ecoregion. They resurrected the species epithet, sligoi, from Boulenger (1924) and suggested “South China giant salamander” as a common name.
Turvey et al. (2019) estimated the divergence of A. silgoi, the basal group, to date back to ~3.1 mya, while the other two clades diverged ~2.5 mya. Yan et al. (2018) and Turvey et al. (2019) both identified a unique clade from Huangshan in the Anhui Province, however neither study named the lineage.
The results from Turvey et al. (2019) indicate that speciation occurred as a result of mountain formation.
Boulenger, EG. (1924). “On a new giant salamander, living in the Society’s Gardens.” Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1924, 173–174.
Thorn, Robert (1968). Les Salamandres d'Europe, d'Asie et d'Afrique du nord. Lechevalier, Paris.
Turvey, S.T., Chen, S., Tapley, B., Wei, G., Xie, F., Yan, F., Yang, J., Liang, Z., Tian, H., Wu, M., Okada, S., Wang, J., Lü, J., Zhou, F., Papworth, S.K., Redbond, J., Brown, T., Che, J., Cunningham, A.A. (2018). “Imminent extinction in the wild of the world’s largest amphibian.” Current Biology, 28(10), R581–R598. [link]
Turvey, S.T., Marr, M.M., Barnes, I., Brace, S., Tapley, B., Murphy, R.W., Zhao, E., Cunningham, A.A. (2019). “Historical museum collections clarify the evolutionary history of cryptic species radiation in the world’s largest amphibians.” Ecology and Evolution, 9(18), 10070-10084. [link]
Yan, F., Lü, J., Zhang, B., Yuan, Z., Zhao, H., Huang, S., Wei, G., Mi, X., Zou, D. Xu, W., Chen, S., Wang, J., Xie, F., Wu, M., Xiao, H., Liang, Z., Jin, J., Wu., S., Xu, C., Tapley, B., Turvey, S., Papenfuss, T.J., Cunningham, A.A., Murphy, R.W., Zhang, Y., Che, J. (2018). "The Chinese giant salamander exemplifies the hidden extinction of cryptic species." Current Biology, 28(10), R590–R592. [link]
Originally submitted by: Albert Yue (2022-08-25)
Description by: Albert Yue (updated 2022-08-25)
Distribution by: Albert Yue (updated 2022-08-25)
Life history by: Albert Yue (updated 2022-08-25)
Trends and threats by: Albert Yue (updated 2022-08-25)
Relation to humans by: Albert Yue (updated 2022-08-25)
Comments by: Albert Yue (updated 2022-08-25)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2022-08-25)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Andrias sligoi: South China Giant Salamander <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/9090> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 29, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 29 May 2023.
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