AmphibiaWeb - Lyciasalamandra atifi


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Lyciasalamandra atifi (Basoglu, 1967)
Atif’s Lycian Salamander
family: Salamandridae
subfamily: Salamandrinae
genus: Lyciasalamandra
Species Description: Başoğlu, M. (1967). "On a third form of Mertensiella luschani (Steindachner). Amphibia, Salamandridae." Ege Üniversitesi Fen Fakültesi Ilmi Raporlar Serisi. Izmir 44: 3–11.
Taxonomic Notes: Elevated from subspecies to full species by Veith M, Steinfartz S (2004). "When non-monopyly results in taxonomic consequences - the case of Mertensiella within the Salamandridae (Amphibia:Urodela)." Salamandra 40:67-80.

© 2005 Frans Wennmacker (1 of 13)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None



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


Lyciasalamandra atifi is a relatively large salamander at full size with a snout-vent length ranging from 70 - 95 mm (Sinsch et al. 2017). However, as of 2023, three of six subspecies have considerably different total body sizes. Lyciasalamandra a. bayrami has a total length 102 - 171 mm, Lyciasalamandra a. oezi has a total length of 127 - 154 mm, Lycisalamandra a. godmanni has a total length of 125 - 159, and Lyciasalamandra a. veithi has a total length of 130 - 195 mm (Yidiz and Akman 2015; Tok et al. 2016; Oguz et al. 2016). Their head is longer than it is wide with a head width to head length ratio of 0.62 - 0.77 (Öz et al. 2004). The tail length of adults can range from 59.0 - 63.0 mm (Akman et al. 2011), forelimbs range from 22.0 - 24.7 mm, and hindlimbs 23.0 - 26.8 mm (Oğuz et al. 2016).

Lyciasalamandra atifi differs from other species in the same genus in that it is typically larger in snout-vent length. Its pattern of white spots and yellow flecks is also unique (Öz et al. 2004, Sinsch et al. 2017).

In life, L. atifi is reddish dark brown throughout the whole body. The eyelids and the posterior of the parotoid glands have yellow spots. From the back to the base of the tail, males have white spots along the paravertebral sides. A white stripe begins from under the eye and extends past the forelimbs. Females have yellow spots in the same placement as males, but with white spots beginning at the top of the head to the tail tip (Oğuz et al. 2016).

For juveniles, their fingertips, in addition to the body, is dominantly a reddish dark brown color, with white spots scattered throughout the body. The posterior of parotoid glands have yellow spots (Oğuz et al. 2016).

As of 2023, six subspecies of L. atifi are recognized : Lyciasalamandra a. atifi, Lyciasalamandra a. bayrami, Lyciasalamandra a. godmanni, Lyciasalamandra a. kunti, Lyciasalamandra a. oezi, and Lyciasalamandra a. veithi that differ in morphology (see above for size differences) and coloration. Specimens from different populations show variation in the placement of white spots and the presence of white stripes. Specifically, individuals in the Dikmen population, L. a. veithi, lack white stripes as documented by Oğuz et al. (2016) and males of L. a. bayrami have two longitudinal stripes of white flecks and black points (Yildiz and Akman 2015). Some specimens exhibit light brown background coloration as opposed to reddish dark brown. Some populations do not have any yellow coloration at all (Göçmen et al. 2013 - Biharean Biologist). In general, there is no sexual size dimorphism, however in the subspecies, L. a. bayrami, females have bigger heads, parotoid glands, and longer hind limbs (Sinsch et al. 2017; Yildiz and Akman 2015). However, in the populations with yellow spots on the head, females also have white spots from the top of the head to the tail tip (Oğuz et al. 2016).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Turkey


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

Lyciasalamandra atifi can be found in Southern Anatolia, Turkey, ranging from 190 - 1500 meters in elevation. This terrestrial salamander can be found near limestone and rivers in humid pine forests (Kaska et al. 2009). They can sometimes be found under limestone that is striped with white, possibly because those limestones aid in camouflage (Göçmen et al. 2013 - North-Western – New Records).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

These terrestrial Lycian salamanders have acclimated to a dry mediterranean climate, with an average annual rainfall of 400 - 600 mm (Göçmen et al. 2013 - Biharean Biologist). Lyciasalamandra atifi aestivates during the hot and dry summer and hibernates during the winter (Sinsch et al. 2017).

More research needs to be done on the behavior of L. atifi to better understand this species. However, generalizations can be made about L. atifi by extrapolating from the behaviors of other species in the Lyciasalamadra genus. Lycian salamanders are known to be nocturnal and are only active on the surface during rainy winter nights (Sinsch et al. 2017). A majority of the time, Lycian salamanders stay hidden in cold and humid areas underground, under stones, between stone walls, and within crevices (Sinsch et al. 2017).

The lifespan of this species is between 9 and 11 years, with females exceeding males in life expectancy (Sinsch et al. 2017).

Researchers have observed spermatogenesis occurring in captured males from March until June, confirming an earlier study’s findings that L. atifi’s mating season falls between those months (Göçmen et al. 2013 - Biharean Biologist).

Lyciasalamandra atifi is a viviparous species with gestation lasting approximately one year (Kaska et al. 2009). Lycian salamanders prefer higher rainfall and humidity for parturition, so females will usually give birth between September and March (Göçmen et al. 2013 - Biharean Biologist). Females typically give birth to one or two fully metamorphosed young (Kaska et al. 2009). Juveniles are relatively large at birth and have a rapid rate of growth, reaching maturity at two years of age (Sinsch et al. 2017).

An early analysis on the diet of L. atifi suggests that their prey mainly consists of coleopterans, gastropods, and spiders. The diet composition of other Lycian salamanders is also known and an analysis of the stomach contents of L. fazilae, revealed a diet of a variety of invertebrates. Lyciasalamandra fazilae, along with other Lycian salamanders, is an active and opportunistic predator depending on environmental conditions and availability of prey (Çiçek et al. 2007).

Predators of L. atifi, were not found, however, defensive behavior was observed in L. l. finikensis in which individuals coiled their bodies, leaned their heads, and produced a high-pitched noise (Göçmen et al. 2013 - North-Western – New records).


This species reproduces via live birth (Sinsch et al. 2017).

Trends and Threats

Lyciasalamandra atifi is distributed throughout an area that is less than 5,000 square kilometers, and has been found in fewer than five locations throughout their range. The present population trend of L. atifi is stable, according to the IUCN Red List, however, they are still listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List due to a naturally narrow range, in combination with habitat loss and overharvesting. Habitat loss is currently low due to the typically small human population in the salamander’s range, but could become a problem depending on future development in the area (Kaska et al. 2009).

According to Kaska et al. (2009), overharvesting occurs as sample collection for research purposes. There are no conservation efforts in place for the salamander currently, but Kaska et al. (2009) predict that implementation of protected areas for the narrow habitat could aid in the conservation of the species and potentially prevent development from occurring within its habitat.

Relation to Humans

Tourism is not very prevalent in the region where L. atifi is found, and there tends to be a small human population in the surrounding areas. The relationship between L. atifi and humans is mainly driven by the collection of specimens for research purposes (Kaska et al. 2009).


Lyciasalamandra atifi was originally described by Başoǧlu in 1967 as a subspecies of Salamandra luschani, however, it has since been moved to its current genus and defined as a species by Veith and Steinfartz in 2004.

As of 2023, there are seven species in the genus Lyciasalamandra: L. antalyana, L. atifi, L. billae, L. fazilae, L. flavimembris, L. helverseni, and L. luschani (Oğuz et al. 2016), and several subspecies. Subspecies of L. atifi that have been described are: L. a. atifi, L. a. bayrami, L. a. godmanni, L. a. kunti, L. a. oezi, and L. a. veithi (Oğuz et al. 2016).

Based on Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian analyses of 4500 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA, it is unclear which Lyciasalamandra species is sister to L. atifi. Instead there is a proposed polytomy of the seven species in the genus due to speciation events occurring during the formation of islands in the Mediterranean (Veith et al. 2016).

The genus name, “Lyciasalamandra,” is a reference to the area this genus is found in, specifically, the region of Turkey where L. atifi is found, is referred to as the “historic Lycia region of Turkey” (Oğuz et al. 2016). The root, “salamandra,” is of Greek origin, meaning “a salamander” (Borror 1960).

Lyciasalamandra atifi was named after Atif Şengün, who first identified the species in February, 1966 (Oğuz et al. 2016).


Akman, B., Yalçinkaya, D., Kariş, M., and Göçmen, B. (2011). "Range extension of Lyciasalamandra atifi (Başoǧlu, 1967) (Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae)." North-Western Journal of Zoology, 7(2), 360 - 362. [link]

Başoğlu, M. (1967). "On a third form of Mertensiella luschani (Steindachner). Amphibia, Salamandridae." Ege Üniversitesi Fen Fakültesi Ilmi Raporlar Serisi. Izmir, 44, 3 - 11.

Borror, D. (1960). Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms. Mayfield Publishing Company, Mountain View, CA.

Göçmen, B., Veith, M., Akman, B., Godmann, O., İğci, N., Oğuz, A. (2013). ''New records of the Turkish Lycian salamanders (Lyciasalamandra, Salamandridae).'' North-Western Journal of Zoology, 9(2), 319-328.

Göçmen, B., ÇIçek, K., Mermer, A., and Akman, B. (2013). "Notes on the reproduction of lyciasalamandra atifi (Basoglu, 1967) (Amphibia: Salamandridae) from Cebireis mountain (Antalya, Turkey)." Biharean Biologist, 7(1), 52 - 53.

Kaska, Y., Kumlutaş, Y., Avci, A., Üzüm, N., Yeniyurt, C., Akarsu, F., Tok, V., Ugurtas, I.H., Sevinç, M., Crochet, P.-A., Papenfuss, T., Sparreboom, M., Kuzmin, S., Anderson, S., Denoël, M. (2009). Lyciasalamandra atifi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T61914A12571585. Accessed on 16 February 2023.

Oğuz, M., Gӧçmen, B., and Yalçinkay, D. (2016). "Comparison of Lyciasalamandra atifi (Başoğlu, 1967) (Urodela: Salamandridae) Populations with Description of Three New Subspecies from Antalya Province." South Western Journal of Horticulture, Biology and Environment, 7(2), 61 - 113.

Sinsch, U., Böcking, H., Leskovar, C., Öz, M., and Veith, M. (2017). "Demography and lifetime growth patterns in viviparous salamanders (genus Lyciasalamandra): Living underground attenuates interspecific variation." Zoologischer Anzeiger - A Journal of Comparative Zoology, 269, 48 - 56.

Tok, C., Afsar, M., and Yakin, B. (2016). "A new subspecies, Lyciasalamandra atifi oezi n. ssp. (Urodela: Salamandridae) from Gazipaşa (Antalya, Turkey)." Ecologica Montenegrina, 9, 38 - 45. [link]

Veith, M., Göçmen, B., Sotiropoulos, K., Kieren, S., Godmann, O., Steinfartz, S. (2016). ''Seven at one blow: the origin of major lineages of the viviparous Lycian salamanders (Lyciasalamandra Veith and Steinfartz, 2004) was triggered by a single paleo-historic event.'' Amphibia-Reptilia , 37, 373-387.

Veith, M., Steinfartz, S. (2004). ''When non-monophyly results in taxonomic consequences – the case of Mertensiella within the Salamandridae (Amphibia: Urodela).'' Salamandra, 40(1), 67-80.

Yildiz, M. and Akman, B. (2015). "A New Subspecies of Atif’s Lycian Salamander Lyciasalamandra atifi (Başoğlu, 1967), from Alanya (Antalya, Turkey) (Caudata: Salamandridae)." Herpetozoa, 28(1/2), 3 - 13.

Çiçek, K., Tok, C.V., Mermer, A., Tosungolu, M., Ayaz, D. (2007). ''Food Habits of the Lycian Salamander, Lyciasalamandra fazilae (Başoğlu and Atatür, 1974): Preliminary Data on Dalyan Population.'' North-Western Journal of Zoology, 3(1), 1-8.

Öz, M., Düşen, S., Tunç, M., Kumlutaş, Y., Durmuş, H., and Kaska, Y. (2004). "A Morphological and Taxonomical Study on the Subspecies of the Lycian Salamander, Mertensiella luschani, (Steindachner, 1891) (Urodela: Salamandridae)." Turkish Journal of Zoology, 28, 237 - 244.

Originally submitted by: Emma Deal, Laura Kojima, Rafael Miranda (2023-02-23)
Description by: Emma Deal, Laura Kojima, Rafael Miranda (updated 2023-02-23)
Distribution by: Emma Deal, Laura Kojima, Rafael Miranda (updated 2023-02-23)
Life history by: Emma Deal, Laura Kojima, Rafael Miranda (updated 2023-02-23)
Larva by: Emma Deal, Laura Kojima, Rafael Miranda (updated 2023-02-23)
Trends and threats by: Emma Deal, Laura Kojima, Rafael Miranda (updated 2023-02-23)
Relation to humans by: Emma Deal, Laura Kojima, Rafael Miranda (updated 2023-02-23)
Comments by: Emma Deal, Laura Kojima, Rafael Miranda (updated 2023-02-23)

Edited by: Nessa Kmetec (2023-03-23)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Lyciasalamandra atifi: Atif’s Lycian Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 3, 2023.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 3 Jun 2023.

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