Undescribed Eurycea species #2
Undescribed salamander species
Eurycea species 2 (Devitt, 2019)
Federal Endangered Species Act Status:
State of Texas Species Conservation Status:
Kerr and Gillespie counties
Eurycea salamanders from Kerr County have not previously been described as unique species. Previous researchers presumed that salamanders collected from this region were the same species as the Texas salamander (Eurycea neotenes), due to physical similarities. The Texas salamander has a yellow mottled skin color, bright red gill filaments, a broad head with bluntly rounded snout and eyes of moderate size. The genetically unique species recently identified from Kerr county spring systems (Eurycea species 2) likely shares many of these same features (Devitt 2019).
Little is known about the life history and reproduction of this undescribed species. Generally, 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:
The individuals collected to genetically characterize this new species were found in surface waters closely associated with limestone spring discharges. Salamander species living in spring-fed surface waters are typically found underneath small rocks, vegetation, or leaf packets near flowing springs. Not much is known about the diet of this newly described species, but spring salamanders that live in similar habitats typically 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., 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