AmphibiaWeb - Bolitoglossa bolanosi


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Bolitoglossa bolanosi Arias, Chaves & Parra-Olea, 2023
Bolaños’ Web-footed Salamander
Subgenus: Eladinea
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Bolitoglossa
Species Description: Arias E, Chaves G, Parra-Olea G. 2023. A new species of salamander (Caudata: Plethodontidae: Bolitoglossa) from the subalpine rain páramo of the Cordillera de Talamanca, Costa Rica. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 17: 143–160.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Bolitoglossa bolanosi is a small species of plethodontid salamander, with females ranging in standard lengths from 32.7 - 50 mm and males ranging from 34 - 49 mm. Their head is wider than the shoulders and possesses fairly large eyes. Nasolabial cirri are present on their relatively truncated snouts. The limbs are somewhat lengthy and thin with slender hands, and the tips of the toes are free of any webbing. Their body is wider than high with 12 costal grooves and overall have smooth skin. They also possess long tails (Arias et al. 2023, see text for more details).

Bolitoglossa bolanosi has a short, truncated snout in males compared to B. bramei and B. gomezi, which have a rounded snout. Bolitoglossa bramei has a brownish base coloration with dark markings while B. bolanosi has a dark base with lighter (red or yellow) markings. Bolitoglossa gomezi and B. subpalmata have shorter limbs than in B. bolanosi. Bolitoglossa gracilis has a yellow base color with a dark mid ventral stripe, both colorations not seen in B. bolansi. Additionally, B. bolansi lacks the broad red stripe seen in B. splendida. Bolitoglossa tica has a reddish base color usually lacking markings and with white spots on underside while B. bolanosi has markings and mottling but lacks white ventral spots. Bolitoglossa kamuk has a uniform black or orange base color and is smaller and more slender (standard length in B. kamuk is 34.6 - 38.4 mm while in B. bolansi the standard length is 39.43 - 50.01 mm) and possesses mottling. Bolitoglossa pesrubra has more wide webbed feet and red coloration on the limbs, while B. bolanosi has at least the last phalange free, is narrower, and lacks red coloration on its limbs (Arias et al. 2023).

In life, B. bolanosi is uniform black-brownish with the head and limbs often being lighter. Two uneven dorsal-lateral stripes made up of yellowish markings are often present on the dorsum, with the underside being a lighter brown color with orange markings under the limbs (Arias et al. 2023).

The coloration in B. bolansi is variable. The markings that make up the dorsolateral stripes can range from large blotches to small spots, forming the stripes in a more distinct/continuous or non-distinct way with some having spots that don’t form a stripe at all. Some lack markings all together and are uniform black. Red tails are commonly seen. There is also some sexual dimorphism with females having more rounded snouts and more subtle cirri/nasolabial protuberances than males (Arias et al. 2023).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Costa Rica


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Bolitoglossa bolanosi is present on the peaks of Dúrika, Arbolado, Hakú, and Utyum, all in a 15 km area in the Cordillera De Talamanca of Costa Rica. They are found from 2,550 - 3,240 m above sea level in subalpine páramo and montane Quercus dominant forest habitat. These areas are characterized by an abundance of moss (bryophytes), ferns, and isolated tree patches with bromeliads and other epiphytes where they have been found to reside. This habitat also has a short dry season, with 1,000 - 4,500 mm annual precipitation and an average annual temperature of 3 - 12°C (Arias et al. 2023).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Females have been observed guarding their broods under moss. Additionally, individuals in some sites were more common above ground in bromeliads, but others in the cover of moss (Arias et al. 2023).

This species is likely direct developing due to it being a plethodontid.

Trends and Threats
The páramo habitat B. bolanosi inhabits is under threat from fragmentation and climate related threats such as forest fires (Arias et al. 2023). Their small distribution also puts them at risk. The closely related species B. pesrubra which inhabits a similar habitat was previously common in their range, but is now declining for unknown reasons. Whatever it is could have an impact on B. bolanosi and other páramo inhabiting species (Arias et al. 2023).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Habitat fragmentation
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.


According to Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood analyses based on the 16S and cyt-b mitochondrial gene fragments B. bolansi is sister to B. pesrubra and together they are sister to B. kamuk; all in the B. subpalmata species complex. Contraction and expansion of páramos have played a part in the speciation of this group likely due to them providing isolated pockets of habitat (Arias et al. 2023).

The species epithet is in honor of Federico Bolaños, a Costa Rican herpetologist (Arias et al. 2023).

Arias E, Chaves G, Parra-Olea G. (2023). A new species of salamander (Caudata: Plethodontidae: Bolitoglossa) from the subalpine rain páramo of the Cordillera de Talamanca, Costa Rica. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 17, 143–160. [link]

Originally submitted by: Torsten Watkins (2024-03-08)
Description by: Torsten Watkins (updated 2024-03-08)
Distribution by: Torsten Watkins (updated 2024-03-08)
Life history by: Torsten Watkins (updated 2024-03-08)
Larva by: Torsten Watkins (updated 2024-03-08)
Trends and threats by: Torsten Watkins (updated 2024-03-08)
Comments by: Torsten Watkins (updated 2024-03-08)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2024-03-08)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2024 Bolitoglossa bolanosi: Bolaños’ Web-footed Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 13, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 13 Apr 2024.

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