Cascade Caverns salamander (Eurycea latitans)
Cascade Caverns salamander
Eurycea latitans (previously Eurycea tridentifera, Devitt, 2019)
Federal Endangered Species Act Status:
E. latitans has No Status –The defunct species name E. tridentifera was previously Under Review
State of Texas Species Conservation Status:
Kendall and Comal Counties
The Cascade Caverns salamander (Eurycea latitans) was first described in 1946 (Smith and Potter, 1946). The diverse range of microhabitats for this species has led to the development of some characters that are frequently seen in cave species such as light skin pigment, small, lidless eyes and flat, wide heads (Chippendale, 2000). This species differs from other Eurycea salamanders with its thicker arms and legs, flatter snout, interlaced net of pigment-less splotches and raised area from the eyes to the back of the head.
Little is known about the life history and reproduction of this species. Female Eurycea salamanders hatch eggs inside of their bodies after being fertilized by males. These aquatic salamanders do not develop substantially past the larval life stage and retain a fully developed set of gills throughout their lifespan (Brown, 1967).
Habitat and Diet:
Cascade caverns salamanders’ range into both underground cave and surface water stream. This species is typically found underneath small rocks, vegetation or leaf packets near flowing springs, or on the bare rock or silt bottoms of cave systems. The salamanders are known to eat various insects including dragonflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, and small crustacea such as water scuds. The continued persistence of this species is dependent upon protection of their native springs from diminishing water quantity and quality (Sweet, 1982).
Brown, B.C. (1967). Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles: Amphibia: Caudata: Plethodontidae: Eurycea latitans. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH). 34.1-34.2 http://hdl.handle.net/2152/44959
Chippindale, P. T., Price, A. H., Wiens, J. J., & Hillis, D. M. (2000). Phylogenetic Relationships and Systematic Revision of Central Texas Hemidactyliine Plethodontid Salamanders. Herpetological Monographs, 14, 1. https://doi.org/10.2307/1467045
Crump, P., and Diaz, P. (2021). Texas and Cascade Salamander (E. neotentes(sic)/latitans) Update 2021. Report prepared by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Austin, Texas. 1-59
Devitt, T. J., Wright, A. M., Cannatella, D. C., and D. M. Hillis. 2019. Species delimitation in endangered groundwater salamanders: Implications for aquifer management and biodiversity conservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116(7) 2624–2633. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1815014116
Sweet, S.S., (1982). A Distributional Analysis of Epigean Populations of Eurycia neotenes in Central Texas, with Comments on the Origin of Troglobitic Populations. Herpetologica, 35(3) 430-444. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3892428
Smith, H.M., & Potter, F.E. (1946). A Third Neotenic Salamander of the Genus Eurycea from Texas. Herpetologica, 3(4), 105-109. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3889913