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Taylor’s Salamander

Ambystoma taylori


Taylor’s salamander exhibits some incredible features, such as being able to live in salt waters with such high salinity that it would kill most other amphibian species!

The salinity of Laguna Alchichica, where this species lives, is well above the maximum level tolerable to amphibian eggs and embryos. Another unusual feature this species has is that it has a ‘neotenous’ life, whereby it retains its juvenile characteristics throughout life, never developing into an adult. However, Taylor’s salamander is able to achieve reproductive maturity whilst still in its larval form.

This salamander will eat almost anything that can fit in its mouth, including all aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates. Taylor’s salamander belongs to the family Ambystomatidae, which is one of the most primitive lineages of salamanders. Ambystomatid salamanders diverged from all other salamanders over 150 million years ago, in the Late Jurassic. This is around the same time kangaroos and humans last shared a common ancestor!

Taylor’s salamander is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, as the species occurs in an area less than 20 km². The most serious threat to this species is water extraction, diversion and pollution. The water is often extracted for irrigation and drinking water for the expanding population, and it is feared that continued extraction will lead to the extinction of this species. Fortunately, attempts to introduce fish to the lake have failed due to the extreme salinity.

  • Order: Caudata
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Population: Rare
  • Trend: unknown
  • Size: 15-20cm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.69 (?)
ED Score: 17.52 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species is found in Laguna Alchichica, eastern Puebla, Mexico at 2,290 metres above sea level.

Habitat and Ecology

This species lives permanently in water and it lives and breeds in the lake that it was born. It is often found deep in the water

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This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Recreation Dams Agriculture

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at:

Download the survival blueprint for this species below either in English or Spanish. These survival blueprint are compiled by an EDGE fellow working on the species with input from collaborators and stakeholders. The survival blueprint provides a status review (information on the distribution, protection status, habitat & ecology, threat and stakeholder analysis) and more information on the action programme listed here. 

Vision (30-50 years)

Protect and restore Taylor’s Salamander habitat in order to avoid its extinction.

Goal (5-10 years)

Guarantee the stability of salamander population through habitat restoration and community engagement.


Establish permanent monitoring of the salamander’s population and its habitat. Critical
Protect and restore terrestrial habitat surrounding Alchichica and the neighbouring crater lakes (La Preciosa and Quechulac). Critical
Engage local communities to mitigate the threats affecting Taylor’s Salamander habitat. Critical
Reduce littering and pollution of the water body in Alchichica. Critical
Reduce water consumption in the region Critical
Create an assurance colony of salamanders High
Create awareness among drivers to reduce littering from the highway. High

José Alfredo Hernández Díaz

  • Project name: Diagnosis of Taylor’s salamander situation: Searching for suitable conservation strategies
  • Project site: Alchichica lake, Mexico
  • Active: 2015 - ongoing
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