Current Conservation Status of Threatened Plethodontid Salamanders in the Mountainous Region of Central Veracruz, Mexico

Paulina García Bañuelos

The Plethodontidae is the most diverse amphibian family in Mexico, and most of its species are only known from few localities in small areas. Of the 140 species described for Mexico, 97% are in a high extinction risk category, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Mexican Ministry of the Environment (SEMARNAT).

The center of Veracruz in one of the richest regions in species of plethodontid salamanders in the country with thirty-five species reported there (25% of total richness of the country) and all are at risk of extinction, facing constant and severe modification of their habitat. Currently, the remnants of conserved or moderately conserved vegetation in this region together cover only 13% of its territory. At the same time, there are few established PAs where only 23 of the 34 species have been recorded but with at least 30% of suitable habitat for another salamander species to occur.

Chiropterotriton chiropterus.

Chiropterotriton chiropterus.

During my PhD project I found that 40% of the threatened species are outside any PA (called threatened gap species), and then I proposed to verify the persistence of these populations in close established PAs and potential complementary sites (known localities with a 2.5 km buffer of suitable habitat around).

Due to the above, the aim of this project will be to know:

1) the population persistence of the salamander species in the complementary sites,

2) if there are other populations of gap species within established PA in the vicinity of their known localities,

3) the population parameters, such as the rate of encounter and type of microhabitats used, and

4) to know the habitat conditions of the complementary sites and potential PAs where the species of interest occur.

This information would allow us to detect threats for the subsistence of the salamander populations, as well as to determine the sites with relevance for the study and conservation of each species. The knowledge of the current situation of the threatened gap species of salamanders represents a tool for decision-making in the Mexican conservation agenda, particularly in Veracruz.

Header: Mundo Nuevo, Veracruz.

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