AmphibiaWeb - Chiropterotriton melipona


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Chiropterotriton melipona Parra-Olea, García-Castillo, Rovito, Maisano, Hanken & Wake, 2020
Xicotepec Salamander, Salamandra de Xicotepec
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Chiropterotriton
Species Description: Parra Olea G, Garcia-Castillo MG, Rovito SM, Maisano JA, Hanken J, Wake DB. 2020. Descriptions of five new species of the salamander genus Chiropterotriton (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from eastern Mexico and the status of three currently recognized taxa. PeerJ 8:e8800 DOI 10.7717/peerj.8800

© 2020 Sean Michael Rovito (1 of 3)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN) - Provisional
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Chiropterontriton melipona is a salamander with a snout-vent length range of 26.4 – 31.4 mm for males and 27.1 – 29.8 mm for females. Tail length ranges are 31.0 – 38.2 mm for males and 30.7 – 33.9 mm for females (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).

Chiropterotriton melipona is differentiated from other similar species by generally having smaller morphological features. For example, C. melipona sports a smaller full grown body size compared to C. cernorum, C. perotensis, C. totonacus, C. casasi, C. chiropterus, C. orculus, and C. lavae; specifically the average snout-vent length for males is 29.2 mm and for females is 28.5 mm in C. melipona compared to C. ceronorum having an average snout-vent length of 33.9 mm in males and 34.9 mm in females. Chiropterotriton melipona has a larger adult body size in just one case, when compared with C. aureus who has an average snout-vent length of 28.5 mm for males and 26.8 mm in females. Chiropterotriton melipona has shorter limbs in males with 2.3 costal grooves between the limbs compared to none in C. ceronorum, 1.9 in C. orculus, and 0.3 in C. chiropterus. Both male and female (1.8 costal grooves) limb interval is longer when compared to both sexes of C. lavae (0.6 in both males and females), C. casasi (0.8 in males and 1.0 in a female), and C. totonacus ( 0.6 in males and none in females). Chiropterotriton melipona has a smaller head length for both sexes (6.3 mm average in males and 6.4 mm in females) compared to C. ceronorum (7.5 mm average in males and 7.1 mm in females). Head width is also smaller for C. melipona (4.3 mm average in males and 4.2 mm in females) compared with C. ceronorum who has an average head width of 5.1 mm for both sexes. The feet width can also differentiate between species, for instance C. melipona have smaller feet (2.4 mm average in males and 2.6 mm in females) than C. ceronorum (3.8 mm average in males and 3.5 mm in females) (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).

In life, the dorsal surface of C. melipona sports an orange-yellow stripe from the base of the head to the tip of the tail. This band of coloration runs lighter yellow in the center then flows into a more distinct dark orange-brown along the edge. The head along with the flanks of the salamander are dark brown with gray flecks scattered throughout. At parotoid gland an inverted triangle shape with an orange-brown edge marks the beginning of the dorsum stripe. Although the limbs are still gray-brown they have yellow-brown dots embedded throughout and the lateral sides of the tail are seen to be dark brown. The iris is coppery (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).

In preservative, this unique species is a striking yellowish to muddled yellow color. The snout still has brown specks embedded in the yellow base color. The dorsal band becomes bright yellow with edges of a darker pigmentation accompanied by a lighter faded brown stripe that fades gradually toward the the ventrolateral region. The tail holds some brown markings on the outer edges of the dorsal stripe, however the coloration comes to a halt on the ventrum where there is absence of pigmentation (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).

Males and female differ in their morphometrics. For example, females have relatively longer limbs (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Mexico


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Chiropterotriton melipona is found in Mexico, specifically near the municipalities of Cuetzalan, Xocoyolo and Xicotepec de Juarez in the Sierra Norte in the northern part of Puebla. Chiropterotriton melipona is an arboreal salamander who frequents banana trees and a range of other bromeliad plant species. They are observed at elevations between 690 and 1,420 m asl (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This arboreal salamander has been found on the outer leaves of banana plants and bromeliad plant species where it has been observed in sympatry with Aquiloeurycea quetzalanensis, another species of salamander that is also in the family Plethodontidae, as well as C. chiropterus (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).

The life history of this species has yet to be researched, but it can be assumed that C. melipona has direct development as species in this genus have direct development (Glime and Boelema 2017).

Trends and Threats
The mature forests that C. melipona reside in have been deforested and modified for agricultural needs. This has led to a greatly fragmented range for this species to live in. This deforestation and fragmentation has contributed to the decline and sparsity of this species. Other threats include habitat destruction, climate change, and/or disease (Parra-Olea 2003). Because of this threat, Parra-Olea et al. (2002) recommend and IUCN Red List threat status “Endangered” using the IUCN criterion B1ab(iii).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

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


Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian analyses of L2 and COI mtDNA sequences show strong support for C. melipona being sister to the clade composed of C. aureus, C. chiropterus, and C. nubilus (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).

The species epithet, "melipona" is a circuitous reference to where the species is found. The type locality of C. melipona is in Xicotepec (de Juarez), which in the Nahuatl language translates to “place of the jicotes.” Jicotes are stingless bees of the genus Melipona. Therefore, the name C. melipona shares its species name with this genus of bees (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).

The species was first noted in a 1994 research article by Daniel Darda, as an unnamed species native to Xicotepec, but was not described by science until 2020 (Parra-Olea et al 2020).

At the time of the species’ description, the species was within the lowest elevational range in the genus (Parra-Olea et al. 2020).


Darda, D. M. (1994). "Allozyme variation and morphological evolution among Mexican salamanders of the genus Chiropterotriton (Caudata: Plethodontidae)." Herpetologica, 50, 164-187. [link]

Glime, J. M., Boelema, W. J. (2017). "Salamander Mossy Habitats." Brophyte Ecology. Glime, J. M., eds., Michigan Technological University and the International Association of Bryologists, Michigan. [link]

Parra Olea, G., Garcia-Castillo, M. G., Rovito, S. M., Maisano, J. A., Hanken, J., Wake, D. B. (2020). “Descriptions of five new species of the salamander genus Chiropterotriton (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from eastern Mexico and the status of three currently recognized taxa.” PeerJ, 8:e8800 [link]

Parra-Olea, G. (2003). "Phylogenetic relationships of the genus Chiropterotriton (Caudata : Plethodontidae) based on 16S ribosomal mtDNA." Canadian Journal of Zoology, 81, 2048-2060. [link]

Originally submitted by: Kamryn Mcleran, Sarah Lopez, Olivia Smith (2021-08-16)
Description by: Kamryn Mcleran, Sarah Lopez, Olivia Smith (updated 2021-08-16)
Distribution by: Kamryn Mcleran, Sarah Lopez, Olivia Smith (updated 2021-08-16)
Life history by: Kamryn Mcleran, Sarah Lopez, Olivia Smith (updated 2021-08-16)
Trends and threats by: Kamryn Mcleran, Sarah Lopez, Olivia Smith (updated 2021-08-16)
Comments by: Kamryn Mcleran, Sarah Lopez, Olivia Smith (updated 2021-08-16)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2021-08-16)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Chiropterotriton melipona: Xicotepec 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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