Species Description: Li, Chen, Zhiyong Yuan, Haibin Li & Yunke Wu. 2018. The tenth member of stout newt (Amphibia: Salamandridae: Pachytriton): Description of a new species from Guangdong, southern China. Zootaxa 4399(2): 207–219.
Pachytriton airobranchiatus is distinguished from other species in the Pachytriton genus by the bright orange blotches on the ventral side and the prominent bulges on either side of the neck behind the head caused by the epibranchial bone. However, it can be further distinguished from P. changi and P. xanthospilos by the latter two having orange, ribbon-like dots extending in dorsolateral stripes on their dorsum. The lack of costal grooves differentiates P. airobranchiatus from P. inexpectatus, P. granulosus and P. feii. Having brown coloration on the dorsal tips of the digits and slender first digits that don’t become volar pads distinguishes P. airobranchiatus from P. wuguangui. And lastly, P. airobranchiatus can be differentiated from P. moi by the former having orange blotches on its ventrum (Li et al. 2018).
In life, the coloration of the dorsal and lateral surfaces of the head, body and tail is dark brown. Black black spots may be present on the dorsum and flanks. The dorsal tips of the digits are brown. The ventral surface of the head is light brown mixed with a milky-white color. The ventrum of the body is brown with irregular bright orange blotches. Also on the ventral side, an orange line extends from vent to the end of the tail. There may be bluish-white blotches near the tip of the tail, especially in males. Preserved specimens lighten in color (Li et al. 2018).
Pachytriton airobranchiatus varies in color and pattern. Some specimens do not have black dorsal and lateral spots. The number, size, shape, and position of the orange-red blotches on the ventrum vary and may be completely absent. Lastly, the bluish-white blotches on the tail were only found on male specimens. Cloacas are larger in males than females (Li et al. 2018).
Distribution and Habitat
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The small, cool waterways that P. airobrachiatus inhabit have a water temperature range of 15.9oC to 16.2oC at the night in April and a pH range close to 7. The species is restricted to headwaters in high mountaintops because of high temperatures in the otherwise tropical region. Because of this, the Mt. Lianhua and Wuzhizhang populations are isolated from each other (Li et al. 2018).
The forest habitat that P. airobranchiatus is found in is dominated by persimmon trees (Diospyros morrisiana), Symplocos ulotricha, tea flower trees (Camellia salicifolia and Schima superba), holly trees (Ilex ficoidea), and beeches (Lithocarpus corneus) (Li et al. 2018).
Sympatric amphibians include Amolops hongkongensis, Leptolalax liui, Odorrana graminea, Odorrana schmackeri, and Xenophrys brachykolos. Sympatric reptiles include Boulenger’s keelback snake (Hebius boulengeri), the Chinese slug snake (Pareas chinensis), the Indian Forest Skink (Sphenomorphus indicus), and the Chinese water skink (Tropidophorus sinicus) (Li et al. 2018).
Trends and Threats
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Based on Bayesian analysis of nd2 and cytb mitochondrial DNA sequences P. airobranchiatus is sister to P. wuguanfui. However, this relationship is not strongly supported. The sister clade to the clade formed by P. airobranchiatus and P. wuguanfui is composed of P. xanthospilos and P. changi. The relationship between these two clades is strongly supported. The clade formed by these four species is sister to a clade consisting of P. feii and P. brevipes (Li et al. 2018).
Pachytriton airobranchiatus is the tenth member of the Pachytriton genus (Li et al. 2018). The species epithet, “airobranchiatus”, is derived from the Greek words, “airo” for “raised” and “branchos” for “gill”, in reference to the raised epibranchial bone of this species (Li et al. 2018).
Li, C., Yuan, Z., Li, H., Wu, Y. (2018). ''The tenth member of stout newt (Amphibia: Salamandridae: Pachytriton): Description of a new species from Guangdong, southern China.'' Zootaxa, 4399(2), 207-219.
Written by Elizabeth McAlpine-Bellis (mcalpine.liz AT berkeley.edu), UC Berkeley
First submitted 2018-08-22
Edited by Ann T. Chang (2018-08-22)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2018 Pachytriton airobranchiatus <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/8810> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Feb 23, 2019.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2019. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 23 Feb 2019.
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