Average sized for genus (SL 16.08–35.43 mm, mean 26.74 mm), with very large ovoid nostrils and a long, thin tail. Distinguished unambiguously from all other Cryptotriton species by its bright yellow ventral color in life (vs. a dark uniform gray venter and pale mottled gular region in its sister taxon, Cryptotriton veraepacis). A dark line running from the eye toward the forelimb insertion is usually present in C. sierraminensis, but usually lacking in C. veraepacis. The dorsum of C. sierraminensis is a medium reddish brown with numerous golden brown to tan patches, which continue onto the dorsal surface of the tail, forming an irregular jagged stripe that extends posteriorly for most of the length of the tail. The ventral surface of the tail is brown-gray with numerous pale flecks. The venter is a striking bright yellow in the center, and gray with pale flecks surrounding the yellow areas. This coloration extends onto the gular region, with less extensive small yellow blotches on a gray background with pale flecks.
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Guatemala
This species is known from only two localities (approximately 19 km apart) on the south side of the Sierra de las Minas, Municipio Rio Hondo. It has not been found at other sites farther west in the Sierra de las Minas, but presumably occurs somewhat more widely than its current known range. It is known to occur between 1700 m and 2200 m elevation. C. sierraminensis has been found inside bromeliads in mixed broadleaf and pine cloud forest (lower montane moist forest). It has only been found in primary cloud forest, not in more disturbed areas or secondary forest.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species is an arboreal, bromeliad-dwelling specialist, as are several other members of its genus. Two clutches of unattended eggs (n=50 and n=9) were also found inside bromeliads. The number of eggs in the larger clutch suggests communal egg-laying without brooding by adults. It is not an uncommon species within areas of appropriate habitat, but is less common than the sympatric Bolitoglossa helmrichi.
Trends and Threats
This species does not appear to have declined in abundance since the 1970s, when it was first discovered. One of the two known localities is protected as the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve, while the other has no formal protection. Fires, deforestation and timber harvesting are potential threats to the species’ habitat.
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Vásquez-Almazán, C. R., Rovito, S. M., Good, D. A. and Wake, D. B. (2009). ''A new species of Cryptotriton (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from eastern Guatemala.'' Copeia, 2009, 313-319.
Originally submitted by: Sean M. Rovito (first posted 2009-07-10)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2021-03-18)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Cryptotriton sierraminensis: Sierra de las Minas Hidden Salamander <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/7337> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 3, 2022.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2022. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 3 Jul 2022.
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