Conservation International’s “Lost Frogs” campaign (see EDGE blog) has found the elusive Cave splayfoot salamander (Chiropterotriton mosaueri) during its hunt for the world’s Missing In Action amphibians!
The rediscovery was hailed today, meaning that this is the first time anyone has seen the cave-dwelling salamander since 1941…nearly 7 decades ago! This missing lungless salamander was located in the caves of Durango, Hidalgo by Dr. Sean Rovito.
Dr. Rovito was guided to the cave by members of the local community of Durango, who use this cave as a source of water. Just before dusk, he lowered himself into the cave and soon spied the cave splayfoot salamander, followed by the bigfoot splayfoot salamander (Chiropterotriton magnipes) crawling upside down on the cave ceiling – another top 100 EDGE amphibian species that has only been recorded once by scientists in the last ten years.
The cave splayfoot salamander is a crevice-dweller that seems to depend on humid caverns in pine-oak forest. Factors such as agricultural expansion and wood extraction threaten the surrounding forest, which may have a vital role in maintaining the all-important humidity of these caves. It was feared that both of these salamander species had disappeared due to the drying of their caves following the removal of forest.
Fortunately they are still very much among us and we hope their rediscovery will prompt conservation action to protect their habitat into the future.
Maintaining these caves and the surrounding forest is important both for local communities and biodiversity, ensuring the caves continue to provide a clean source of water and home of unique biodiversity for many generations to come.
If you want to learn more about the search for lost amphibian, please visit Conservation Internationals “Lost Frogs” campaign.