AmphibiaWeb - Bolitoglossa psephena


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Bolitoglossa psephena Campbell, Smith, Streicher, Acevedo & Brodie, 2010

Subgenus: Magnadigita
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Bolitoglossa
Species Description: Campbell JA, Smith EN, Streicher J, Acevedo ME, Brodie Jr ED 2010 New salamanders (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from Guatemala, with miscellaneous notes on known species. Misc Publ Mus Zoology Univ Mich 200: 1-66.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Data Deficient (DD)
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Bolitoglossa psephena is a massive salamander described from one female specimen with a standard length 71.5 mm. The stout digits have some webbing between the digits of the hands and feet. With the webbing typically reaching the base of the terminal segments. The toes are broad, blunt, and the terminal phalanges are free of webbing (Campbell et al. 2010). For more description see Campbell et al. 2010.

Bolitoglossa meliana is most comparable to B. psephena by having a uniformly dark dorsum, but differs is having a squared snout in dorsal profile, a more slender body, and longer, narrower toes with truncate toe tips and less webbing. Bolitoglossa meliana is also a highland dry pine-oak forest to cloud forest species found at lower elevations of 1550 - 2730 m than B. psephena. Bolitoglossa franklini is distinguished from B. psephena by the former having a squared snout in the dorsal view, less webbing on the hands and feet, and a pattern of silvery gray, greenish, or orange spots and blotches on a black background. Additionally, the forearm and lower leg are considerably more robust than in both B. meliana and B. franklini. Bolitoglossa lincolni is a large species with a dramatic design of red and black that distinguishes it from B. psephena. Bolitoglossa morio is typically smaller than B. psephena in standard length, however, large female B. morio are occasionally equal to are larger than B. psephena. Bolitoglossa morio are also slightly more robust, have a relatively shorter tail, and no digit webbing. The two species also differ in coloration and patterning with B. psephena being almost uniformly dark over the whole body and B. morio having irregular white or pinkish spots or mottling on the flanks and venter (Campbell et al. 2010).

In life, B. psephena is generally uniformly dark over the whole body. When in preservative, the skin color turns to a uniform dark gray (Campbell et al. 2010).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Guatemala


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Bolitoglossa psephena is found in the highlands of Tecun Uman Ridge in Chimaltenangan, Guatemala at elevations of 2500 to 3400 m. The Tecun Uman Ridges is a montane wet forest that is numerous in cypress, fir, oak, alder, pine, and laurel trees (Campbell et al. 2010).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The species is rare and only known from the type locality, which has not been survey again since 1992 (IUCN 2020).

Bolitoglossa psephena is assumed to develop via direct development (IUCN 2020).

Trends and Threats
This rare species has an IUCN listing of “Data Deficient”. It is only known from the type locality, which, as of 2020, had not been surveyed since 1992. Satellite imagery has shown some human activity and deforestation. The species could be threatened by Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans if it were to be introduced to the western hemisphere (IUCN 2020).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities

This species epithet, “psephena”, means “to obscure or dark” in Greek, and is a reference to the even dark coloration of the skin (Campbell et al. 2010).


Campbell, J. A., Smith, E. N., Streicher, J., Acevedo, M. E., Brodie, E. D. Jr. (2010). "New salamanders (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from Guatemala, with miscellaneous notes on known species." Miscellaneous Publications Museum of Zoology University of Michigan, 200, 1-66. [link]

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. (2020). "Bolitoglossa psephena." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T194322A2312402. Accessed on 27 September 2022.

Originally submitted by: Bryan Hicks (2022-10-06)
Description by: Bryan Hicks (updated 2022-10-06)
Distribution by: Bryan Hicks (updated 2022-10-06)
Life history by: Bryan Hicks (updated 2022-10-06)
Larva by: Bryan Hicks (updated 2022-10-06)
Trends and threats by: Bryan Hicks (updated 2022-10-06)
Comments by: Bryan Hicks (updated 2022-10-06)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2022-10-06)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Bolitoglossa psephena <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 22, 2023.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Sep 2023.

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