Blanco River Springs salamander (Eurycea pterophila)

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Blanco River Springs salamander head detail
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Blanco River Springs salamander fact file

Blanco River Springs salamander description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAmphibia
OrderCaudata
FamilyPlethodontidae
GenusEurycea (1)

The Blanco River Springs salamander (Eurycea pterophila) is a species of lungless salamander which spends its entire life in freshwater, and has no terrestrial life stages (3).

The Blanco River Springs salamander is primitive in appearance, with very small, undeveloped eyes and little colour on the head and majority of the body. The size of this species has been found to vary depending on the spring in which it lives (2).

Lungless salamanders (Plethodontidae) can be distinguished from other salamanders by a groove that runs along the side of the head, called the nasolabial groove (4).

Also known as
Fern Bank salamander.
Size
Length: 30 - 37 mm (2)
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Blanco River Springs salamander biology

The Blanco River Springs salamander has adapted to its aquatic lifestyle by becoming lungless (4). Instead of having lungs to breathe like most salamanders, it instead retains external gills throughout its life (3). Like other lungless salamanders, it is also able to breathe through its moist skin (4).

Like other aquatic salamanders, the Blanco River Springs salamander mates and lays its eggs underwater. Closely related species are thought to deposit their eggs in gravel (2).

The feeding habits of the Blanco River Springs salamander have not been fully researched, but it is likely that this species mainly predates small, aquatic invertebrates (2).

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Blanco River Springs salamander range

The Blanco River Springs salamander was thought to be found only in the springs and caves of the Blanco River basin in Texas, United States. However, more recent evidence suggests that its range spreads beyond this, as far as Gillespie County (5).

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Blanco River Springs salamander habitat

An aquatic species, the Blanco River Springs salamander is found only in freshwater, typically in spring outflows, spring runs or gravel substrates downstream of spring outlets. This species spends its entire life in water, never venturing onto land (3).The temperature of the water in its habitat stays fairly constant throughout the year, ranging from 18 to 20 degrees Celsius (2).

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Blanco River Springs salamander status

The Blanco River Springs salamander is classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Data Deficient

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Blanco River Springs salamander threats

Very little is known about the elusive Blanco River Springs salamander. However, there are various threats affecting other species of lungless salamander in Texas that could also threaten the Blanco River Springs salamander.

The main threat faced by salamanders in springs in Texas is a probable decrease in water quality and quantity. The Blanco River Springs salamander lives in a small area of water, meaning that a decrease in water level or pollution of its natural habitat could seriously threaten the species, as has occurred for the related Texas salamander (Eurycea neotenes) and Cascade Caverns salamander (Eurycea latitans) (1).

Another known threat to the Blanco River Springs salamander is the capture of this species by humans for both public collections and use in experiments (6).

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Blanco River Springs salamander conservation

The Blanco River Springs salamander has only been found in a few areas and its distribution is extremely limited, suggesting a small population overall. However, due to the lack of information on this species there are as yet no specific conservation measures in place (2).

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Find out more

More information on the Banco River Springs Salamander: 

 Find out about amphibian conservation:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Invertebrates
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010) http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Lannoo, M. (2005) Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, London.
  3. ZARA Environmental LLC. (2011)Draft Preliminary Assesment of Rare Amphibian Species of the Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan. ZARA Environmental LLC, Manchaca, Texas. Available at:
    http://www.sephcp.com/docs/drafts/AppendixB-Natural_Resources_of_the_SEP-HCP_Plan_Area.pdf
  4. Larson, A., Wake, D., and Devitt, T. (2006) Plethodontidae. Lungless Salamanders. Tree of Life Web Project, online. Available at:
    http://tolweb.org/Plethodontidae/15441/2006.09.
  5. Bendik, N.(2006) Population Genetics, Systematics, Biogeography, and Evolution of the Southeastern Central Texas Eurycea Clade Blepsimolge (Plethodontidae). Masters Thesis, University of Texas at Arlington, Texas.
  6. Sweet, S.S. (1978) On the status of Eurycea Pterophila. Herpetologica, 34: 101-108.
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Image credit

Blanco River Springs salamander head detail  
Blanco River Springs salamander head detail

© Danté B Fenolio

Dante Fenolio
dante@anotheca.com

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