Fern Bank salamander (Eurycea pterophila)
Fern Bank salamander
Eurycea pterophila (Devitt, 2019)
Federal Endangered Species Act Status:
State of Texas Species Conservation Status:
Kendall, Blanco, Hays, & Comal counties
The Fern Bank salamander (Eurycea pterophila) was first described in 1950 (Burger, Potter and Smith 1950). This species looks similar to the Texas salamander (Eurycea neotenes) with a yellow, mottled coloration and bright red gill filaments, but can be differentiated from similar species because of a “Y” shaped area at 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:
Fern Bank salamanders range into both underground caves and surface water streams. This species is typically found underneath small rocks, vegetation, leaf packets near flowing springs, on 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
Burger, W. L., Smith, H. M. and Potter, F. E., Jr. (1950). Another neotenic Eurycea from the Edwards Plateau. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 63, 51–58.
Chippindale, P. T., Price, A. H., Wiens, J. J., and 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
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
Sweet, S.S., (1984) Secondary Contact and Hybridization in the Texas Cave Salamanders Eurycea netoenes and E. tridentifera. Herpetologica, 2, 428-441. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1445201