This species is known from a single individual that is about average in size for the genus (32.6 mm, SL). It has small nostrils (0.012 times SL) and a broadly rounded snout (but narrow for an adult male) of moderate length. The nasolabial protuberances are modest in size and barely protrude below the upper lip. The narrow head has eyes of moderate size that are only slightly protuberant, barely extending to the margin of the jaw. The parotoid glands are distinct but relatively small. The head is rounded rather than flattened, and is little differentiated from the neck and anterior body. Maxillary teeth are relatively numerous (36 in the holotype, with 4 premaxillary teeth), and there is a moderate number of vomerine teeth (20). The limbs are short (combined limb length/SL=0.35), with narrow hands and feet that bear short, poorly developed digits. The digits are partly fused basally and the outer digits are very short. Digits 2 and 3 of the hand and 2, 3, and 4 of the foot are narrow and have pointed tips. The tail is long (1.26 times SVL; 41.2 mm) and tapered, with little evidence of basal constriction. The tail is stout basally and is of the same diameter as the posterior end of the body (Wake and Campbell 2000).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Guatemala
Nototriton stuarti is known only from the type-locality (11.6 km [road] WSW Puerto Santo Tomás, Montañas del Mico, Depto. Izabal, Guatemala, 88°40’W, 15°38’N, 744 m elev., collected on 6 Jan. 1991 by Jonathan A. Campbell) in the Montañas del Mico, which reach a maximum elevation of 1267 m on Cerro San Gil. These geographically isolated uplands are located to the north of the inhospitable valley of the Rio Motagua and are surrounded by lowland, tropical habitats. To the southwest, a low ridge system (>300 m) connects the Montañas del Mico with that of the Sierra de las Minas.
The holotype of N. stuarti and several specimens of Oedipina elongata were found inside logs at the type-locality, and initially the specimen described here was thought to be a member of that taxon. One of this series of salamanders was found dead on a trail, and it may have been in leaf litter and stepped on by collectors earlier in the day.
In contrast to higher, more extensive mountain ranges in Guatemala, the Montañas del Mico do not possess well defined vegetational belts, although above 600 m a lush subtropical wet forest prevails. Cloud forest occurs in the vicinity of the type-locality of N. stuarti and on the two highest peaks in the region – Cerro San Gil and Cerro Las Escobas.
The Montañas del Mico are one of the wettest regions in Guatemala. Although weather stations are lacking in these mountains, the lowlands just to the north receive in excess of 4000 mm of precipitation per year (INSIVUMEH 1992), and it is likely that an even greater amount of rain falls on the windward slopes of the Montañas del Mico (Wake and Campbell 2000).
The species is named in honor of the late L. C. Stuart, who spent his scientific career studying the amphibians and reptiles of Guatemala, and who predicted that the Montañas del Mico would produce a previously undescribed species of salamander.
Nototriton stuarti represents the northwestern-most member of the genus as recently revised (Garcia-Paris and Wake 2000).The species is morphologically distinct, but the differences separating it from other species are subtle. Its closest geographic neighbor is N. brodiei, which it resembles in body and nostril size, but it differs markedly in having a shorter tail, fewer teeth, and broader head. Both species, as well as others (often only some individuals of a species) in the genus, have a dorsal color pattern of pale marks arranged in a herringbone pattern. Its morphological characters are matched most closely by those of N. barbouri, possibly for the simple reason that that species is known from the largest sample (Wake and Campbell 2000).
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.
Wake, D. B. and Campbell, J. A. (2000). ''A new species of diminutive salamander (Plethodontidae: Nototriton) from the Montañas del Mico of Guatemala.'' Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 113(3), 815-819.
Written by David B. Wake (wakelab AT uclink4.berkeley.edu), Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
First submitted 2000-11-14
Edited by M. J. Mahoney (2002-02-17)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2002 Nototriton stuarti: Stuart’s Moss Salamander <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/5400> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jan 23, 2021.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 23 Jan 2021.
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