Researchers Discover Two New Species of Salamander

First Posted: Feb 13, 2013 07:30 AM EST

A team of researchers from Colombia has discovered two new species of salamander while conducting the first amphibian census that was supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme and Save Our Species. The newly discovered salamanders that belong to the genus Bolitoglossa were spotted at the Tama Bi-National Park.

Also known as the tropical climbing or web-footed salamanders, the researchers named one of the salamanders (B.leandrae) after an 11-year-old girl who the team encountered during their project.

"Leandra grew fascinated by the world of amphibians," team leader Aldemar Acevedo said in a press statement. "She was eager to learn about our work and became an excellent spokesperson for nature conservation among the community."

Boltiglossa leandrae, measuring up to 2.5 cm in length, has a narrow head and long slender tail. Males are known be dark brown in color with yellow stripes along their body and females are of a reddish brown color.

The second one that was longer than B.leandrae was Bolitglossa tamaense. It was 5 cm long, almost the height of a credit card. The researchers noted a number of colorations and patterns. Their body color remained the same most of the time, either brown or dark red, but their tail and limbs are of dark brown, red, orange or yellow color.

Apart from these, three frog species were discovered that have remained unidentified till date. On the whole, the team spotted nearly 34 amphibian species.

"For decades, the natural landscape of Tama Bi-National Park was subject to deforestation, agricultural pressures and illegal crop-growing so during our project we began working with local communities and environmental organisations to encourage good land stewardship and the development of adequate conservation plans" said Aldemar.

With the support of the local people, the researchers noticed a drop in the rate of deforestation, especially those areas that are thickly populated by B.leandrae.

What was upsetting in this discovery was fungus chytridiomycosis. For the first time in north east Colombia, the team spotted this fungus on 23 of the park's 34 species. The fungus is capable of hampering the population and also causes local extinctions.

The team conducted several biosafety workshops for rangers and community members in order to control the spread of the fungus.

The study was published in the journal Zootaxa.

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