AmphibiaWeb - Aquiloeurycea cafetalera


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Aquiloeurycea cafetalera (Parra-Olea, Rovito, Márquez-Valdelmar, Cruz, Murrieta-Galindo & Wake, 2010)
Coffee Grove Salamander, Salamandra de cafetal
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Aquiloeurycea
Species Description: Parra-Olea G, Rovito SM, Marquez-Valdelamar L, Cruz G, Murrieta-Galindo R, Wake DB. 2010. A new species of Pseudoeurycea from the cloud forest in Veracruz, Mexico. Zootaxa 2725: 57-68.

© 2009 Sean Michael Rovito (1 of 8)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Vulnerable (VU)
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (1 records).

Aquiloeurycea cafetalera are medium-sized terrestrial salamanders with wide webbed hands and feet with short digits. Adult females are slightly larger than adult males with a standard length range of 43.1 – 59.8 mm and tail length range of 31.8 – 45.6 mm while two male had standard lengths of 42.8 and 48.1 mm and one male had a tail length of 36.3 mm. The head is broad and the snout is rounded in females while being squarish in males. The snout projects over the mandible. The interorbital distance is equal to the distance from the snout to the anterior corner of the eye. The paratoid glands are not obvious. The poorly-defined neck of these salamanders is only slighter narrower than their heads. It also has 13 costal grooves that begin in the axilla and end at the groin. The limbs are long but the digits are short. The relative finger lengths are 3 > 2 > 4 > 1 and the relative toe lengths are 3 > 4 > 2 > 5 > 1. All the digits have small sub-terminal pads and the toes have basal webbing. They also have small tubercles on the underside of their hind feet. The tail is stout and tapers to a point (Parra-Olea et al. 2010).

Aquiloeurycea cafetalera was originally assigned to the genus Pseudoeurycea and is distinguishable from most members of that genus by its relatively stout body, long stout legs, short digits and webbed feet. Additionally, unlike Isthmura bellii (Bell’s False Brook Salamander), it doesn’t have red dorsal spots. Aquiloeurycea cafetalera is larger, has longer limbs, and wider feet when compared to Aquiloeurycea quetzalanensis (Cuetzalan Salamander). The focal species also has a head width that is slightly smaller than Aquiloeurycea cephalica (Chunky False Brook Salamander) by about 2 mm; however, this trait might be hard to assess without direct measurements. Other relatives, like Aquiloeurycea galeanae (Galeana False Brook Salamander) and Aquiloeurycea scandens (Tamaulipan False Brook Salamander) are larger and have white spots on the tail or uniformly dark bellies unlike A. cafetalera (Parra-Olea et al. 2010).

In life, these salamanders are chocolate brown on the dorsal surfaces of the head, body, and base of the tail. The tail becomes reddish brown at the tip. The snout has grey speckles and there is another grey patch above the eyes. Their irises are dark brown. The sides of the head are brown with grey speckles that increase in frequency as they move dorsally. The sides of the body are dark brown with grey specks on the upper half and pale gray with dark brown mottling on the lower half. The color of the dorsal surface of the limbs is the similar to the tip of tail in being reddish brown. The dorsal surfaces of the feet are brown with grey speckles. The ventrum is dark brown with minute grey flecks but the gular region, lateral and ventral surfaces of the tail, and the ventral side of the limbs are grey with brown specks. The ventral surface of the feet are solid brown. Preserved specimens look largely like live specimens but their venter and ventral surface of their feet fade to slate gray (Parra-Olea et al. 2010).

The intensity and darkness of the brown dorsal color can vary between individuals and can range from dark brown to an auburn reddish-brown. The dorsal color can also fade to a lighter brown or brown red at the tail tip, snout, and where the legs join the body. The ventral coloration can also vary from a paler version of the dorsal color to a silver speckled color pattern (Aguilar-Lopez et al. 2017). Some individuals may also have orange-brown lichen-patterned or blotchy spots on the dorsum. Additionally, there may not be grey coloration above the eyes or grey mottling on the lower lateral surfaces (Parra-Olea et al. 2010).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Mexico


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (1 records).
Aquiloeurycea cafetalera are found throughout Northeast Puebla and the highlands of Veracruz, Mexico in an elevation range of 1,250 - 2,220 meters above sea level (Aguilar-Lopez et al. 2017). They were first found near Huatusco Veracruz and north to La Joya and Sierra de Zongolica (Parra-Olea et al. 2010). They mostly inhabit cloud forest but can also be found in pine and oak forests as well as in shaded coffee plantations. The species is most often found on the ground in leaf litter, but can also be found in bromeliads, on bare soil, but more rarely, on plants from 10 – 120 cm above the ground (Aguilar-Lopez et al. 2017).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Like many salamanders A. cafetalera are active at night (Aguilar-Lopez et al. 2017).

Aquiloeurycea cafetalera reproduce in the rainy season between July and September and lays a clutch of about 15 eggs under decomposing logs. However, the presence of juveniles and females with ovarian eggs over the course of several months may indicate that this species has continuous reproduction (Aguilar-Lopez et al. 2017).

Female produce ovarian eggs in 2 rows with 18 - 31 eggs per row. These unfertilized eggs are between 0.99 - 2.42 mm in diameter. The species exhibits female parental care with one female recorded guarding her eggs. Fertilized eggs seem to hatch a couple months after being laid as small individuals less them 32 mm in total length can be found between September and November (Aguilar-Lopez et al. 2017).

This species exhibits direct development.

Trends and Threats
Although A. cafetalera is locally abundant, the species has a recommended threat listing of “Vulnerable”. They inhabit an area much smaller than their estimated potential distribution because of habitat loss, fragmentation, and urbanization. Their known habitat is made up of 134 fragments many of which are less than 1 km2 and only 2 of which are larger than 100 km2. Additionally, its distribution is still decreasing and being fragmented because of loss of habitat and decrease in the quality of the habitat they need (Aguilar-Lopez et al. 2017).

Isolation between these fragments could lead to loss of genetic diversity and increase the risk of extinction or local extinction for this species. With this in mind, a possible solution would be to increase connectivity with coffee plantations which would provide benefits to both humans and the salamander. Chytrid fungus has not yet been investigated or recorded in this species, but it could also pose a threat (Aguilar-Lopez et al. 2017).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat fragmentation

The species authority is: Parra-Olea, G., Rovito, S.M., Marquez-Valdelamar, L., Cruz, G., Murrieta-Galindo, R., Wake, D.B. (2010). “A new species of Pseudoeurycea from the cloud forest in Veracruz, Mexico.” Zootaxa, 2725, 57–68.

Based on Bayesian Inference and Maximum Likelihood of the 16S rRNA gene, A. cafetalera is sister to A. cephalica. However, this relationship is not strongly supported. The two species are most next closely related to the clade composed of A. galeanae and A. scandens (Parra-Olea et al. 2010).

The species epithet, “cafetalera” comes from the fact that it is found on coffee plantations (Parra-Olea et al. 2010).

It was originally placed in the genus Pseudoeurycea (Parra-Olea et al. 2010) but was switched to genus Aquiloeurycea by Rovito et al. (2015).


Aguilar-Lopez, J.L., Sandoval-Comte, A., Pineda, E. (2017). ''Distribution, encounter rate and conservation status of Aquiloeurycea cafetalera (Caudata: Plethodontidae), a recently described mexican salamander.'' Phyllomedusa, 16(2), 211-224.

Parra-Olea, G., S. M. Rovito, L. Marquez-Valdelamar, G. Cruz, R. Murrieta-Galindo, Wake, D. B. (2010). ''A new species of Pseudoeurycea from the cloud forest in Veracruz, Mexico.'' Zootaxa, 2725, 57-68.

Rovito, S.M., Parra-Olea, G., Recuero, E., Wake, D.B. (2015). ''Diversification and biogeographical history of Neotropical plethodontid salamanders.'' Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 175, 167-188.

Originally submitted by: Kaera Utsumi (first posted 2018-11-20)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2022-08-23)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Aquiloeurycea cafetalera: Coffee Grove Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 22, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 May 2024.

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