Diagnosis: Bolitoglossa schizodactyla can be distinguished from other members of the genus by the following combination of characters: having bifurcated terminal phalanges on some to most digits; complete digital webbing; relatively high numbers of vomerine teeth (mean 39.8, range 27-61); and color pattern of either a yellow ventral band interrupted by an irregular black stripe on the belly, or a whitish venter without markings (northern and western parts of the range) (Wake and Brame 1966; Savage 2002).
Description: Bolitoglossa schizodactyla is a medium-sized Bolitoglossa, with adults measuring 96 to 147 mm in total length. Adult males are 38 to 61 mm in standard length, while adult females are 46 to 62 mm in standard length. Tails are long and measure 50 to 58% of total length. Eye size is moderate and eyes are slightly protuberant. Adults have 43 to 104 maxillary teeth and 27 to 61 vomerine teeth. Adpressed limb interval is 1 1/2 to 3 costal folds. Hands and feet are completely webbed with no subterminal pads. Head width measures 15 to 18% of standard length. Leg length measures 20 to 28% of standard length. Dorsal surfaces range from dark brown to black. In specimens from the southern and eastern parts of the range, the venter and subcaudal areas are yellow, and the venter is often marked by an irregular dark brown to black central stripe. In specimens from the northern and western parts of the range, the venters are immaculate whitish (Wake and Brame 1966; Savage 2002).
Similar species: B. schizodactyla can be distinguished from B. striatula by its color pattern; B. schizodactyla has a dark brown to black ground color with a yellow venter often interrupted by a median dark stripe, or a whitish venter, while B. striatula is cream to light yellow with dark brown stripes both dorsally and ventrally (Savage 2002).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Costa Rica, Panama
This species is found primarily in Panama, as only a single specimen has ever been recorded from Costa Rica (Solís et al. 2008). In southeastern Costa Rica it has been found on the Atlantic versant at 780 m asl (Solís et al. 2008). On the Atlantic versant of Panama it has been found on Isla Colón in the Bocas del Toro archipelago and at Peninsula Valiente, at elevations to 20 m asl (Wake and Brame 1966), and elsewhere in Central Panama up to 750 m asl (Solís et al. 2008). On the Pacific versant of Panama it is known from El Valle de Anton (Wake and Brame 1966) and El Copé (Lips et al. 2003), Cocle Province, and Cerro la Campana and Cerro Jefe, Panama Province, at elevations from 200-850 m asl (Wake and Brame 1966). It inhabits primary humid lowland and premontane forest (Solís et al. 2008; Savage 2002).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species breeds by direct development (Solís et al. 2008). It is nocturnal and climbs vegetation. In Panama, individuals were found in banana plants at El Valle de Anton, on vegetation four feet above the forest floor on Isla de Colon, and walking on Heliconia and palm leaves along a stream at Bluefields (Peninsula Valiente) (Wake and Brame 1966).
Trends and Threats
Although B. schizodactyla is common in Panama, it is quite rare in Costa Rica, where it is known from a single specimen collected in 1984. The population trend is thought to be decreasing. This species is not found in degraded habitats. The major threat is deforestation due to agriculture, livestock grazing, human occupation, and increasing industry. It occurs within several protected areas (Solís et al. 2008), including Parque Nacional General de División Omar Torrijos Herrera, El Copé, Coclé, Panama (Lips et al. 2003).
Chytridiomycosis may possibly be a threat; Lips et al. (2006) reported finding a dead specimen of B. schizodactyla in Panama that tested positive for the chytrid fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Based on comparative analysis of skin peptides, Woodham et al. (2006) predicted that B. schizodactyla has relatively little resistance to chytridiomycosis.
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
First described by Wake and Brame (1966). The species name schizodactyla refers to the bifurcated terminal phalanges present on some or all digits.
A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).
Lips, K. R., Brem, F., Brenes, R., Reeve, J. D., Alford, R. A., Voyles, J., Carey, C., Livo, L., Pessier, A. P., and Collins, J. P. (2005). ''Emerging infectious disease and the loss of biodiversity in a Neotropical amphibian community.'' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(9), 3165-3170.
Lips, K.R., Reeve, J.D., and Witters, L.R. (2003). ''Ecological traits predicting amphibian population declines in Central America.'' Conservation Biology, 17(4), 1078-1088.
Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica:a herpetofauna between two continents, between two seas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA and London.
Solís, F., Ibáñez, R., Savage, J., Wake, D., Chaves, G., and Bolaños, F. 2008. Bolitoglossa schizodactyla. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 31 March 2011.
Wake, D. B., and Brame, A. H. (1966). ''A new species of lungless salamander (genus Bolitoglossa) from Panama.'' Fieldiana Zoology, 51, 1-10.
Woodhams, D. C., Voyles, J., Lips, K. R., Carey, C., and Rollins-Smith, L. A. (2006). ''Predicted disease susceptibility in a Panamanian amphibian assemblage based on skin peptide defenses.'' Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 42, 207-218.
Originally submitted by: David Chen (first posted 2009-11-02)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2011-05-17)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2011 Bolitoglossa schizodactyla <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/4012> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 25, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 25 Sep 2023.
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