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Townsend’s Salamander

Parvimolge townsendi


Townsend’s dwarf salamander is the solitary representative of its genus, and its lineage may have diverged from all other amphibian species over 34 million years ago at a time when monkeys and humans shared a common ancestor.

This species has not been located despite numerous recent attempts, and it appears to have had a 80% population decline over the past ten years. Townsend’s dwarf salamander has the incredible capability of caudal (tail) autotomy, which is the ability to drop the end of the tail and later regrow it. This is an antipredator mechanism that allows Townsend’s dwarf salamander to escape from an attack by a predator is its tail is grabbed. A major threat to this species is habitat loss due to expanding agriculture and human settlements, and the extraction of wood. It can survive in shaded coffee plantations, providing that humidity is retained, but is not found in heavily disturbed areas. This species is not known from any protected areas, making habitat protection an urgent priority for this species.

  • Order: Caudata
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Population: Possibly extinct
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 50mm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 6.01 (?)
ED Score: 24.39 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species occurs on the Sierra Madre Oriental, in east-central Veracruz, Mexico, at 800-1,500 metres above sea level.

Habitat and Ecology

Townsend’s dwarf salamander inhabits cloud and oak forest and is partially terrestrial (ground dwelling) and also arboreal (tree-dwelling), where they are often found to inhabit bromeliads. Direct development of the young occurs within the eggs and they hatch as miniature adults. This whole process is independent of a water body since the eggs are laid in damp locations on the land, making this a truly terrestrial (or land-dwelling) species.

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Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

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).

Urban development Crops Logging Fire

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:

Carolina Rivera González

  • Project name: Conservation assessment of an EDGE amphibian hotspot
  • Project site: Xocoyolo, Mexico
  • Active: 2021 - ongoing
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