AmphibiaWeb - Siren reticulata


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Siren reticulata Graham, Kline, Steen & Kelehear, 2018
Reticulated Siren
family: Sirenidae
genus: Siren
Species Description: Graham SP, Kline R, Steen DA, and Kelehear C. 2018. Description of an extant salamander from Gulf Coastal Plain of North America: the reticulated siren, Siren reticulata. PLoS ONE 13: e0207460.
Siren reticulata
© 2022 Bryce Wade (1 of 2)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
NatureServe Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Siren reticulata is a neotenic aquatic salamander with an elongate, eel-like body and a lateral line on either side. The snout-vent length ranges from 26.5 - 41.5 cm. The head width is about 7% of the snout vent length, and is wider than long. The head is a blunt oval when viewed from above, but tapers slightly towards the neck. Viewed laterally, the head tapers toward the mouth. Siren reticulata has a horny beak in place of premaxillary teeth. The eyes lack eyelids. Encircling the neck are enlarged external gill fimbriae associated with three gill slits. The hind limbs are absent, and the forelimbs insert immediately posterior to the gill fimbriae. The fingers lack webbing. The mid-trunk width is around one tenth of the snout vent length. The number of costal grooves ranges from 39 - 41.5 grooves. The tail length is more than half the snout vent length (Graham et al. 2018).

Siren reticulata can be distinguished morphologically from other species of Siren in by patterning and the number of costal grooves. The distinctive reticulate spotted pattern is lacking in S. intermedia; those individuals that do exhibit spotting only have small, sparse, round dots. Similarly, S. lacertina lacks spots but instead has rather small green or gold flecks that are sparsely distributed. In addition, the patterning of S. lacertina and S. intermedia fades in preservation, while that of S. reticulata is retained. Additionally, S. reticulata has more costal grooves than S. lacertina, S. i. intermedia, and S. i. nettingi (Graham et al. 2018).

The dorsal side of S. reticulata is olive-grey with a reticulate, irregular pattern of large, dark spots. Sparse spots pattern the head and become denser from the gill arches to the tail. The flanks are yellow-green, and the ventral surface is a light olive green-yellow. Each hand has four black-tipped fingers. The eyes are opaque black. The distinctive reticulate pattern is retained well in preserved specimens (Graham et al. 2018).

Some specimens have a marked horizontal boundary where the spotted pattern stops along the flanks, while in others the pattern continues down the flanks onto the ventral surface (Graham et al. 2018).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States

U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Alabama, Florida

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Siren reticulata is endemic to the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and potentially southwestern Georgia. Specimens have been collected from three localities. The first is a freshwater marsh near Lake Jackson along the Alabama-Florida border. Many aquatic floating and emergent plants cover the surface of the marsh. These include white water lily, water shield, pickerel weed and cattail. The second locality is a clearwater stream impounded by beaver activity near a bay swamp on Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The third site is the Fish River, a blackwater stream, located in Baldwin County, Alabama. This is where the first specimen was captured in 1970 according to Auburn University Museum collection records. Elevations of these three sites are 262, 84 and 423 feet, respectively (Graham et al. 2018).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
It has been difficult to describe the species’ life history and ecology due to its small range and the lack of specimens (Graham et al. 2018).

The holotype specimen, an adult female, has hundreds of developing follicles. This indicates high female fecundity, as seen in S. lacertina (Graham et al. 2018).

Siren lacertina may be parapatric with S. reticulata as the former has been found immediately east of Florala in Geneva and Henry Counties, Alabama (Graham et al. 2018).

Trends and Threats
As of 2018, no research has been done on population trends, let alone the causes of any decline (Graham et al. 2018). Possible threats include fire suppression in its longleaf pine forest habitat; habitat fragmentation, alteration, or loss; pollution from herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizer, or other forms of pollution; and climate change (Bailey 2006). However, one of the locations this species is found is at Eglin Air Force Base, a biodiverse area that is already home to 11 threatened or endangered species (Blaustein 2008).

Relation to Humans
The only recorded interactions with humans are those times when a specimen has been captured, either purposefully or otherwise. However, there have been enough sightings for the species to gain a local nickname, “leopard eel” (Graham et al. 2018).

Maximum likelihood analysis conducted on the Cytochrome B fragment (CYB) found that Siren reticulata is sister to the clade composed of the rest of the Siren species (Graham et al. 2018).

The specific epithet, "reticulata", is a reference to the reticulated pattern found in all specimens used for the species description. This patterning is also referenced in the species' colloquially name, Leopard Eel, although it is neither a leopard or an eel (Graham et al. 2018).


Bailey, M.A., Holmes, J.N., Buhlmann, K.A., Mitchell, J.C. (2006). “Habitat management guidelines for amphibians and reptiles of the Southeastern United States.” Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Technical Publication HMG-2, Montgomery, Alabama.

Blaustein, R. (2008). “Biodiversity hotspot: The Florida Panhandle.” BioScience, 58(9), 784-790. [link]

Graham, S.P., Kline, R., Steen, D.A., Kelehear, C. (2018). “Description of an extant salamander from the Gulf Coastal Plain of North America: the reticulated siren, Siren reticulata.” PLoS ONE, 13(12), e0207460. [link]

Originally submitted by: Annabella Espinoza (2022-05-10)
Description by: Annabella Espinoza (updated 2022-05-10)
Distribution by: Annabella Espinoza (updated 2022-05-10)
Life history by: Annabella Espinoza (updated 2022-05-10)
Trends and threats by: Annabella Espinoza (updated 2022-05-10)
Relation to humans by: Annabella Espinoza (updated 2022-05-10)
Comments by: Annabella Espinoza (updated 2022-05-10)

Edited by: Jessica Pan (2022-05-10)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Siren reticulata: Reticulated Siren <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 21, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 21 Jul 2024.

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