Dabie Mountain Crocodile Newt
|Taxonomic Notes: Fei, Ye & Jiang 2012 Colored atlas of Chinese amphibians place this species in what others consider subgenus Yaotriton.|
Species Description: Raised from subspecies of T. wenxianensis to full species status by Shen Y, Jiang J, Mo X 2012 A new species of the genus Tylototriton (Amphibia, Salamandridae) from Hunan, China. Asian Herpetological Research 3: 21-30.
Author: Axel Hernandez
Tylototriton dabienicus CHEN, WANG, TAO 2010
Diagnosis and taxonomyFirst described as a subspecies of T. wenxianensis by CHEN et al. (2010), a subsequent molecular study has confirmed this taxon as a valid species (SHEN et al. 2012). Its holotype (HNNU 0908Ñ 095) is a male collected at 698 m a.s.l. in the Huangbaishan National Forest Park, Mt. Dabie, Shangcheng County, Henan Province, China, in August of 2009 together with 8 paratypic females and one juvenile from between 733 - 767 m a.s.l. in May of 2010. It is a moderately large species of 14.8 cm TL at maximum that is diagnosed by the combination of the following characteristics: head width much greater than in its congeners, limbs short, tips of fingers and toes not touching when front- and hindlimbs are adpressed against body, tips of fingers reaching anterior orbital area when forelimbs are stretched forward, and margin cloacal opening orange, the dorsolateral glandular warts are not present, though it superficially resembles T. wenxianensis.
DistributionThe type locality in Henan Province also marks the border to the provinces of Hubei to the north and Anhui to the east where this species also occurs. As to the latter province, old records exist from the Yaoluoping Nature Reserve Yuexi only 78 km from the type locality where this species is probably still present (BAO et al. 2012). The author also observed newts resembling this taxon in Anhui Province in 2009.
Habitat, ethology and ecologyDabie Mountain crocodile newt is found at moderate elevations of between 698 and 767 m a.s.l. in the immense coniferous and cedar forests of 4010 hectares in the Nature Reserve of Huangbaishan. The annual average temperature here is about 15.0 °C with a maximum of 22.0 °C in summer. Pachyhynobius shangchengensis and Andrias davidianus are also present in streams at the same locality as are tadpoles of Bufo gargarizans gargarizans, Pelophylax nigromaculatus, Fejervarya multistriata, and Yeirana yei. T. dabienicus probably furthermore lives in the bamboo forests around the reserve. According to BAO et al. (2012), these newts used to be identified as T. wenxianensis prior to their formal description in Anhui Province (Yaoluoping Nature Reserve Yuexi) where they inhabit significantly higher elevations of between 1,100 and 1,400 m, were found in water bodies of 30 to 80 cm deep with a current velocity of 0.5 m/s and flanking herbaceous cover. Their diet in the wild is composed mainly of millipedes (73%), annelids (23.5%), and mollusks.
ReproductionData on the reproductive biology of this species are scant. T. dabienicus seems to mate when the first rains start falling in late April/early May. Courtship is similar to that observed in T. wenxianensis. The eggs are deposited on the ground in leaf litter and grass near water. Ponds conducive to developing larvae are about 1 meter deep and surrounded by grass and pine trees.
Status, threats and conservationT. dabienicus occurs in the protected Huangbaishan National Forest Park. However, its range is very restricted, and the species is certainly vulnerable to alterations of its habitats and overexploitation.
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