AmphibiaWeb - Bolitoglossa cathyledecae


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Bolitoglossa cathyledecae Ponce, Navarro, Morales & Batista, 2022
Chiriqui Fire Salamander
Subgenus: Eladinea
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Bolitoglossa
Species Description: Ponce M, Navarro D, Morales R, and Batista A. 2022. A new salamander of the genus Bolitoglossa (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from the highlands of western Panama. Zootaxa, 5129(4), 543-556.
Bolitoglossa cathyledecae
© 2022 Marcos Ponce (1 of 3)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Bolitoglossa cathyledecae is a relatively small salamander described from three specimens, two of which are subadults; the adult has a snout-vent length of 46 mm. Its head is relatively broad and is longer than wide. The eye to snout distance is 43.75% of the head width. The lips protrude slightly. Its eyes are small, not protruding from the sides of the head or visible from the ventral view. The limbs are moderately sized with three costal folds between adpressed limbs. The hands and feet are broad and extensively webbed, but with the digit tips free from webbing. The tips are broadly rounded but flattened rather than cylindrical. The relative finger lengths are 1 < 2 < 4 < 3; the relative toe lengths are 1 < 2 < 5 < 4 < 3. The longest digits have subterminal pads. Its tail is long and prehensile, about 1.5 times the length of its body (Ponce et. al 2022).

Bolitoglossa cathyledecae is distinct in features of its extremities and teeth and coloration. Its feet are extensively webbed, but the most distal tips of its longer digits are free from this webbing, distinguishing it from species with either complete or sparse webbing. In comparison with the sympatric B. pesrubra, B. cathyledecae has a longer tail proportionate to its body and many more maxillary and pre-maxillary teeth. Most notably, B. cathyledecae has a bright red and reddish-pink coloration in life that easily distinguishes it from other closely related salamanders of similar size or geographic range (Ponce et. al 2022).

In life, B.cathyledecae has a dorsum that is deep red with lighter red speckles across its head and back. Its underside fades to a solid reddish-pink color while its tail continues the darker color of the dorsum (Ponce et. al 2022).

In juveniles the colors are similar but lighter, closer to orange than red, and appear yellow at the tips of their tails and digits (Ponce et. al 2022).

In ethanol, the colors fade to browns and tans; its underside appears light beige while its dorsum is reddish brown to tan (Ponce et. al 2022).

There may be developmental variation as the juvenile specimens are lighter in color and may have less distinct speckles than the single adult specimen (Ponce et. al 2022).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Panama

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Bolitoglossa cathyledecae is known from a single, isolated site in western Panama within La Amistad National Park. Its habitat, a montane rainforest at about 1900 meters above sea level in the Cordillera de Talamanca, is notable for its short dry season and dense undergrowth (Ponce et. al 2022).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
As of 2023, all known specimens of the salamander were found active in the evening or night following periods of rainfall (Ponce et. al 2022).

As a member of Plethodontidae, B. cathyledecae is likely a direct developer without an aquatic larval stage.

Trends and Threats
The locality of B. cathyledecae is isolated from other similar habitats by its high elevation, leaving the species particularly vulnerable to habitat degradation and climate change. Its range is expected to shrink further due to human land use (Ponce et. al 2022).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Habitat fragmentation
Loss of genetic diversity from small population phenomena
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.


Bolitoglossa cathyledecae is placed in the subgenus Eladinea due to skeletal and genetic data. A Maximum Likelihood analysis of 16S mtDNA sequence places it as sister to the clade containing the B. epimela, B. robinsoni and B. subpalmata species groups (Ponce et. al 2022).

The specific epithet, “cathyledecae”, is in honor of conservationist Cathy Ledec, whose work has helped preserve the habitat of Neotropical salamanders (Ponce et. al 2022).

Ponce, M., Navarro, D., Morales, R., and Batista, A (2022). A new salamander of the genus Bolitoglossa (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from the highlands of western Panama. Zootaxa 5129(4), 543–556. [link]

Originally submitted by: Kyle Moxley (2023-10-10)
Description by: Kyle Moxley (updated 2023-10-10)
Distribution by: Kyle Moxley (updated 2023-10-10)
Life history by: Kyle Moxley (updated 2023-10-10)
Larva by: Kyle Moxley (updated 2023-10-10)
Trends and threats by: Kyle Moxley (updated 2023-10-10)
Comments by: Kyle Moxley (updated 2023-10-10)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang, Michelle S. Koo (2023-12-21)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Bolitoglossa cathyledecae: Chiriqui Fire Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 14, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 14 Jul 2024.

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