AmphibiaWeb - Nototriton gamezi


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Nototriton gamezi García-París & Wake, 2000
Monteverde Moss Salamander
Subgenus: Nototriton
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Nototriton
Nototriton gamezi
© 2010 Sean Michael Rovito (1 of 6)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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This is a small, slender species; adult SL for the sole adult male available is 23.6; for 2 females 24.2, 26.2. The head is of moderate length (0.19-0.21 SL in four specimens) and width (0.13-0.14 SL), and is well demarcated from the trunk. Eyes are of moderate size and protrude slightly beyond the lateral margins of the head. The small teeth are relatively numerous (24-35, mean 28.8 total number of maxillary teeth; 12-17, mean 14.8 total number of vomerine teeth). Parotoid glands are relatively conspicuous and appear as swollen, lightly pigmented protuberances from the posterolateral margins of the head. The adult male has a small, flat, round mental gland. The species has a trunk of moderate robustness. The limbs are relatively short (0.16-0.17 SL). The slender tail is longer than body length (mean 1.1 SL, maximum length 1.3 SL) and has a relatively strong taper to a slender, pointed tip. Limbs are relatively short; limb interval 5-5.5 mm. Hands and feet bear well-formed, slender digits that are fully independent, except for the first digit of the forelimb which is relatively indistinct and joined to the basal portion of the manus. The digits are slightly expanded around the terminal phalanx. Webbing is slight and is limited to part of the proximal phalanx.

Coloration (in life).
Color notes were recorded in life by DBW for three specimens. MVZ 207123 was black ventrally, with white spots in bands corresponding to costal segments. There was a distinct contrast between the black venter and the brown dorsum. The lateral surfaces of the trunk were streaked and mottled, and there was an obscure dorsolateral dark line. The parotoid region was orange-brown, as were the limb insertions. The dorsum of the tail was orange-brown with some tannish streaks. The iris was brown-bronze.
MVZ 207121 was reddish brown with a tan tail, with all dorsal surfaces bearing small black spots. The venter of the trunk was gray with highlights of reddish brown and a rich sprinkling of white spots. The gular region was lighter gray than other ventral surfaces. Limb insertions were reddish brown.
MVZ 207120 was light brown dorsally with many black spots that create a pattern of repeated chevrons, pointing anteriorly. Dorsolateral lines were dark with tan streaking beside them. The tail was tan. The ventral and lateral surfaces of the body were black, with many irregularly distributed white spots. There were black irregular markings on the head. Limb insertions were orange-brown (Garcia-Paris and Wake 2000).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Costa Rica

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The type series was collected in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica in August, 1987. Two specimens were collected by searching through heavy moss mats in openings in the forest beside a wide trail on the Caribbean coastal slope of the continental divide. The divide is about 1550 m elevation at this spot, and the salamanders were obtained within about 20 m (elevation) of the divide. Air temperature was 21.5° C, and two salamanders were collected at temperatures of 21.5° and 20.2° within moss mats. These animals were microsympatric with Oedipina poelzi and O. uniformis. The type specimen was collected along the divide in deep forest at about 1600 m from moss growing on a tree; temperature 20.0° C. A fourth specimen was collected from moss on a tree (Garcia-Paris and Wake 2000).


This species is named in honor of Dr. Rodrigo Gámez, distinguished Costa Rican scientist and public servant, and first Director of the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad de Costa Rica (INBio), whose superb efforts have contributed greatly to knowledge and preservation of Costa Rican biodiversity.

This species has been known for many years, but it has long been considered to be conspecific with populations from the Cordillera Central of Costa Rica now assigned to N. abscondens (e.g. Van Devender 1980). The species was studied by Good and Wake (1993), who reported details of a morphometric and allozyme study of the population relative to other Costa Rican populations assigned to Nototriton. Although they found the population to be morphologically distinct, they included it in N. abscondens because allozyme differences were not great and because the population clustered with other populations of that species (but also with N. guanacaste) in a phylogenetic analysis of the allozyme data. However, these authors noted that the Monteverde population overlaps more extensively in morphological traits with N. guanacaste than with N. abscondens. Although genetic distances are low (Nei D = 0.05-0.06), there is one fixed allozymic difference between N. gamezi and N. abscondens; there are three fixed differences between N. gamezi and N. guanacaste, and seven differences between N. gamezi and N. picadoi (Good and Wake 1993). To the characters listed by Good and Wake (1993) for the Monteverde population we note also that the species has distinct parotoid glands, and in this trait it resembles N. guanacaste. The primary reasons for our decision to describe the species are that it is diagnosable on several grounds, it is well differentiated from all other Costa Rican populations of Nototriton with respect to both cyt b and 16S sequences (relative to N. abscondens K2p is 0.021-0.024 for cyt b, 0.018 for 16S) and it is never the sister taxon of N. abscondens in phylogenetic analyses of the sequence data; instead, it is usually the sister taxon of a polytomy of N. abscondens, N. picadoi (K2p is 0.016-0.019 for cyt b, 0.018 for 16S), and N. guanacaste (K2p is 0.040 for cyt b; 0.014 for 16s), but in the combined analysis it is a part of a polytomy of the first two species. Accordingly, it is unlikely that N. gamezi is even a sister group of N. abscondens and we believe that it merits recognition as a separate species (Garcia-Paris and Wake 2000).

A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).


García-París, M., Wake, D. B., and Price, A. H. (2000). ''Molecular phylogenetic analysis of relationships of the tropical salamander genera Oedipina and Nototriton, with descriptions of a new genus and three new species.'' Copeia, 2000(1), 42-70.

Good, D. A., and Wake, D. B. (1993). ''Systematic studies of the Costa Rican moss salamanders, genus Nototriton, with descriptions of three new species.'' Herpetological Monographs, 7, 131-159.

Van Devender, R. W. (1980). ''Preliminary checklist of the herpetofauna of Monteverde, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica and vicinity.'' Brenesia, (17), 319-326.

Originally submitted by: David B. Wake (first posted 2000-11-01)
Edited by: Arie van der Meijden and M. J. Mahoney (2009-11-04)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2009 Nototriton gamezi: Monteverde Moss Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 23, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 23 Jul 2024.

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