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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Dermophis parviceps is a small slender species of caecilian which grows to 217 mm in length (Savage 2002). It is the most slender caecilian in Costa Rica (Leenders 2001). It can be distinguished by a pink to gray-brown head that contrasts with the purplish slate color of the dorsum (Savage 2002). Ventrally, this caecilian is grayish (Savage 2002). The throat, lower jaw, and the area near the vent are white (Leenders 2001). The eyes are visible through the skin (Savage 2002). A short tentacle is located about halfway between the eye and nostril on each side of its head (Savage 2002; Leenders 2001). The head is elongated (Leenders 2001). This species has both primary and secondary annuli; 85-102 primary annuli and 11-26 secondary annuli may be present, with total numbers of annuli ranging from 97-126 (Savage 2002). The secondary annuli are few in number compared to other sympatric caecilians, and occur at the posterior of the animal near the vent (Leenders 2001). As with all caecilians, there are no external ear openings (Leenders 2001).

A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).

  • Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
  • Leenders, T. (2001). A Guide to Amphibians And Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical, Miami.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to both the Atlantic slopes and lowlands of Costa Rica and Panama, and also occurs in parts of central Panama. It is present on Isla Popa, in the Bocas del Toro, Panama. It has an altitudinal range of 40-1,200m asl.
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Distribution and Habitat

This species occurs in Costa Rica and Panama, from sea level to 1220 m in elevation (Savage, 2002). It inhabits lowland moist and wet forests, premontane moist and wet forests, and premontane rainforest (Savage 2002). It can be found under logs or leaf litter, usually in undisturbed forest (Savage 2002). It may also be found by excavating down to 400-600 mm below the soil surface, in between tree buttresses (Savage 2002).

  • Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
  • Leenders, T. (2001). A Guide to Amphibians And Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical, Miami.
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Countries

Countries

Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama

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Ecology

Habitat

Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean Mangroves Habitat

This taxon is found in the Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion, but not necessarily exclusive to this region.The Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves occupy a long expanse of disjunctive coastal zone along the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico for portions of Central America and Mexico. The ecoregion has a very high biodiversity and species richness of mammals, amphibians and reptiles. As with most mangrove systmems, the Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean ecoregion plays an important role in shoreline erosion prevention from Atlantic hurricanes and storms; in addition these mangroves are significant in their function as a nursery for coastal fishes, turtles and other marine organisms.

This disjunctive Neotropical ecoregion is comprised of elements lying along the Gulf of Mexico coastline of Mexico south of the Tampico area, and along the Caribbean Sea exposures of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.There are 507 distinct vertebrate species that have been recorded in the Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion.

Chief mangrove tree species found in the central portion of the ecoregion (e.g. Belize) are White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), and Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans); Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) is a related tree associate. Red mangrove tends to occupy the more seaward niches, while Black mangrove tends to dominate the more upland niches. Other plant associates occurring in this central part of the ecoregion are Swamp Caway (Pterocarpus officinalis), Provision Tree (Pachira auatica) and Marsh Fern (Acrostichum aureum).

The Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion has a number of mammalian species, including: Mexican Agouti (Dasyprocta mexicana, CR); Mexican Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra, EN); Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii, EN); Central American Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi, EN); Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla); Deppe's Squirrel (Sciurus deppei), who ranges from Tamaulipas, Mexico to the Atlantic versant of Costa Rica; Jaguar (Panthera onca, NT), which requires a large home range and hence would typically move between the mangroves and more upland moist forests; Margay (Leopardus wiedii, NT); Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata); Mexican Big-eared Bat (Plecotus mexicanus, NT), a species found in the mangroves, but who mostly roosts in higher elevation caves; Central American Cacomistle (Bassariscus sumichrasti).

A number of reptiles have been recorded within the ecoregion including the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas, EN); Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata, CR); Central American River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii, CR), distributed along the Atlantic drainages of southern Mexico to Guatemala; Morelets Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii, LR/CD), a crocodile found along the mangroves of Yucatan, Belize and the Atlantic versant of Guatemala.

Some of the other reptiles found in this ecoregion are the Adorned Graceful Brown Snake (Rhadinaea decorata); Allen's Coral Snake (Micrurus alleni); Eyelash Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii); False Fer-de-lance (Xenodon rabdocephalus); Blood Snake (Stenorrhina freminvillei); Bridled Anole (Anolis frenatus); Chocolate Anole (Anolis chocorum), found in Panamanian and Colombian lowland and mangrove subcoastal forests; Furrowed Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys areolata. NT); Brown Wood Turtle (LR/NT); Belize Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus insularis), which occurs only in this ecoregion along with the Peten-Veracruz moist forests.

Salamanders found in this ecoregion are: Cukra Climbing Salamander (Bolitoglossa striatula); Rufescent Salamander (Bolitoglossa rufescens); Alta Verapaz Salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini, NT), the largest tropical lungless salamander, whose coastal range spans Honduras, Guatemala and the Cayo District of Belize; Colombian Worm Salamander (Oedipina parvipes), which occurs from central Panama to Colombia; La Loma Salamander (Bolitoglossa colonnea), a limited range taxon occurring only in portions of Costa Rica and Panama;.Central American Worm Salamander (Oedipina elongata), who inhabits very moist habitats; Cienega Colorado Worm Salamander (Oedipina uniformis, NT), a limited range taxon found only in parts of Costa Rica and Panama, including higher elevation forests than the mangroves; Limon Worm Salamander (Oedipina alfaroi, VU), a restricted range caecilian found only on the Atlantic versant of Costa Rica and extreme northwest Panama. Caecilians found in the ecoregion are represented by: La Loma Caecilian (Dermophis parviceps), an organism found in the Atlantic versant of Panama and Costa Rica up to elevation 1200 metres

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is a subterranean species that inhabits humid montane and lowland forest, and it can sometimes be found under logs or in leaf-litter. It is present in saturated, but not flooded areas (Brian Kubicki pers. comm.). Its adaptability to secondary habitats is unknown. It is presumed to be a viviparous species that is not dependent on water.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Habitat

Lowland and premontane forest to 1200 m.

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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Life History

Reproduction

As far as is known, all species in the genus Dermophis are viviparous, giving birth to live young (Savage 2002).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dermophis parviceps

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2004

Assessor/s
Frank Solís, Roberto Ibáñez, Gerardo Chaves, Jay Savage, César Jaramillo, Querube Fuenmayor, Mark Wilkinson, Federico Bolaños, Brian Kubicki, Eric Berlin

Reviewer/s
Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
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Population

Population
The population status of this species is poorly known. It has been found at reasonably high densities in some localities; six individuals were found when digging a small pond within sedge peat (Eric Berlin pers. comm. 2007).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

This is a rare species of caecilian (Savage 2002). These animals are very secretive. They spend most of their time underground or under logs, rocks or leaf litter, seldom venturing into the open (Leenders 2001).

Dermophis parviceps is likely to be viviparous, in keeping with the other members of the genus Dermophis. Caecilian larvae from live-bearing species develop within the mother's body, and feed on maternal secretions from the oviduct. Oviductal secretions are stimulated by the larvae's scraping the oviduct wall with specialized fetal teeth. These specialized teeth are replaced after birth with adult teeth, allowing the juveniles and adults to consume a range of invertebrate prey such as worms and insect larvae (Leenders 2001).

  • Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
  • Leenders, T. (2001). A Guide to Amphibians And Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical, Miami.
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Threats

Major Threats
The extent to which deforestation is a threat to the species is unknown.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It occurs in many protected areas of Panama and Costa Rica.
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Wikipedia

Dermophis parviceps

Dermophis parviceps is a species of amphibian in the Dermophiidae family found in Costa Rica and Panama. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

References

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