Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

A slender bodied salamander with a relatively long, laterally-flattened tail. The background is usually black, but can also be dark brown. The animals possess yellow spots, which do not follow a pattern. They usually also have red spots on the head. Adults of both sexes attain a snout-vent length of about 200 mm, sometimes longer. The females are usually larger than males. The male's cloaca is much more swollen than the female’s cloaca.

Although described as a full species, the Algerian salamander was later considered to be a subspecies of the common European salamander, Salamandra salamandra. Veith (1994) raised this salamander to the full species based on an eletrophoretic study. This was later further supported by a DNA study by Veith et al. (1998)

A possible subspecies is described in Morocco, west from Ceuta. These animals are smaller, have a shorter tail, possess no red coloration, and have a dark-brownish color with granite yellow spots. They also can give birth to completely metamorphosed young salamanders (Donaire Barroso and Bogaerts 2001)

  • Schleich, H. H., Kastle, W., and Kabisch, K. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz Scientific Publishers, Koenigstein.
  • Veith, M., Steinfartz, S., Zardoya, R., Seitz, A., and Meyer, A. (1998). ''A molecular phylogeny of 'true' salamanders (family Salamandridae) and the evolution of terrestriality of reproductive modes.'' Journal of Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 36, 7-16.
  • Veith, M. (1994). ''Ioenzymelektrophoretische Untersuchungen am Feuersalamander - Beispiele fur den Einsatz einer modernen Technik.'' Elaphe, 2(1), 53.
  • Donaire, B. D., and Bogaerts, S. (2001). ''Observations on viviparity of Salamandra algira in North Morocco.'' Herpetologia Candiana. P. Lymberakis, E. Valakos, P. Pafilis, nd M. Mylonas, eds., SEH, Irakleio, 147 â€" 151.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is restricted to north-west Africa, with a fragmented range in parts of northern Morocco (Rif and Moyen Atlas), Ceuta (Spain), and northern Algeria (coastal mountain ranges). There is an uncertain record (based on a museum voucher specimen) of this species from northern Tunisia; the presence of Salamandra algira in Tunisia requires further verification. The species has an altitudinal range of approximately 80-2,450m asl.
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Distribution and Habitat

This species may be extinct in Tunisia. In the countries where it occurs, it only lives in the north. If the species is found at the southernmost boundaries of its distribution, it usually lives at higher altitudes. This species occurs from near sea level to 2010 m, and is generally restricted to oak or pine forests, but there have been reports of this species living in unforested areas. Type locality is Mount Edough near Annaba, Algeria from an elevation of approximately 1,000 m.

  • Schleich, H. H., Kastle, W., and Kabisch, K. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz Scientific Publishers, Koenigstein.
  • Veith, M., Steinfartz, S., Zardoya, R., Seitz, A., and Meyer, A. (1998). ''A molecular phylogeny of 'true' salamanders (family Salamandridae) and the evolution of terrestriality of reproductive modes.'' Journal of Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 36, 7-16.
  • Veith, M. (1994). ''Ioenzymelektrophoretische Untersuchungen am Feuersalamander - Beispiele fur den Einsatz einer modernen Technik.'' Elaphe, 2(1), 53.
  • Donaire, B. D., and Bogaerts, S. (2001). ''Observations on viviparity of Salamandra algira in North Morocco.'' Herpetologia Candiana. P. Lymberakis, E. Valakos, P. Pafilis, nd M. Mylonas, eds., SEH, Irakleio, 147 â€" 151.
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This species is found in Northern Morocco, northern Algeria, and northern Tunisia. It occurs to 2010 m in Morocco, 1550 m in Algeria, and 1500 m in Tunisia (Salvador, 1996).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Narrow, somewhat depressed head with rounded snout and conspicuous paratoids. Gular fold present. Subcylindric tail, somewhat laterally compressed. Smooth dorsum with parasagittal and lateral row of pores on each side. Cloacal opening similar in both sexes, lips somewhat larger in males. Background color blackish with yellow spots variable in form and arrangement (Text from Salvador, 1996, © Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service).

The North African populations are characterized by their relatively small size, and a long and narrow tail, and a short, narrow, flattened head with short, narrow paratoids. Pattern varies from two rows of rather long marks on the dorsum to a single row of circular marks or to scattered, isolated spots.The venter is black, sometimes with yellow spots (Text from Salvador, 1996, © Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service).

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Size

It is up to 226 mm in total length (Salvador, 1996).

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Diagnostic Description

This species is black with yellow spots with smooth skin. It has kidney-shaped paratoids on the upper part of the head (Salvador, 1996).

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is generally restricted to humid montane forests where it is found under stones and beneath roots in Cedar (Cedrus) and Oak (Quercus) woodland. It has also been observed in caves in parts of its range. This salamander appears to be ovoviviparous over most of its distribution (8-50 eggs are produced), but viviparous in the Tangitana region of Morocco. In general, the females produce 15-16 larvae; the larvae may be deposited in either cisterns or small streams.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Habitat and Ecology

In Algeria it lives in Cedrus and Quercus woods. During the day it is found under stones and among roots. It lives near streams. It has been observed in caves. Groups of 15 to 20 active salamanders have been seen in November in Algeria (Text from Salvador, 1996, © Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Birth of 16 larvae were reported in May in Algeria. A female caught in December in Morocco had 15 larvae of 27 mm in total length. Towards the end of February larvae in the water in the Rif mountains, and recently metamorphosed individuals under stones were observed (Text from Salvador, 1996, © Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2009

Assessor/s
David Donaire-Barroso, Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Alfredo Salvador, Mario García-París, Ernesto Recuero Gil, Tahar Slimani , El Hassan El Mouden, Philippe Geniez, Tahar Slimani, Jose Mateo

Reviewer/s
Neil Cox and Helen Temple

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Vulnerable, because its Extent of Occurrence is less than 20,000 km2 and its Area of Occupancy is less than 2,000 km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in the extent and quality of its forest habitat in Morocco and Algeria.

History
  • 2004
    Vulnerable
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Population

Population
This is generally a very rare species, especially in Algeria. However, it is locally common in the central and western Rif Mountains in Morocco. It is possibly extinct on Beni Snassen Mountain in north-eastern Morocco.

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

Salamandra algira lives in oak or mixed forests, sometimes in caves. They spend the day under logs, snags, stones, or even in rodent burrows and holes. The activity of this species stops during the summer period. When the rain starts to fall in November the animals become active again. The breeding season occurs in the winter months. The animals mate on land, and can give birth to completely metamorphosed young salamanders, but usually give birth to larvae.

  • Schleich, H. H., Kastle, W., and Kabisch, K. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz Scientific Publishers, Koenigstein.
  • Veith, M., Steinfartz, S., Zardoya, R., Seitz, A., and Meyer, A. (1998). ''A molecular phylogeny of 'true' salamanders (family Salamandridae) and the evolution of terrestriality of reproductive modes.'' Journal of Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 36, 7-16.
  • Veith, M. (1994). ''Ioenzymelektrophoretische Untersuchungen am Feuersalamander - Beispiele fur den Einsatz einer modernen Technik.'' Elaphe, 2(1), 53.
  • Donaire, B. D., and Bogaerts, S. (2001). ''Observations on viviparity of Salamandra algira in North Morocco.'' Herpetologia Candiana. P. Lymberakis, E. Valakos, P. Pafilis, nd M. Mylonas, eds., SEH, Irakleio, 147 â€" 151.
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Threats

Major Threats
The species occurs in small relict populations that are heavily threatened by deforestation, overgrazing by domestic livestock, and channelization of water sources for irrigation. The species is locally threatened by mortality on roads, and there is some collection of this species in small numbers for the international pet trade; further investigations are needed to determine the impact of trade on populations.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention and is protected by national legislation in Spain. It is not known if this species occurs in any protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Relation to Humans

The Arabic common name for this species, Arous Chta, means "bride of the rain."

  • Schleich, H. H., Kastle, W., and Kabisch, K. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz Scientific Publishers, Koenigstein.
  • Veith, M., Steinfartz, S., Zardoya, R., Seitz, A., and Meyer, A. (1998). ''A molecular phylogeny of 'true' salamanders (family Salamandridae) and the evolution of terrestriality of reproductive modes.'' Journal of Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 36, 7-16.
  • Veith, M. (1994). ''Ioenzymelektrophoretische Untersuchungen am Feuersalamander - Beispiele fur den Einsatz einer modernen Technik.'' Elaphe, 2(1), 53.
  • Donaire, B. D., and Bogaerts, S. (2001). ''Observations on viviparity of Salamandra algira in North Morocco.'' Herpetologia Candiana. P. Lymberakis, E. Valakos, P. Pafilis, nd M. Mylonas, eds., SEH, Irakleio, 147 â€" 151.
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Wikipedia

North African fire salamander

The North African fire salamander (Salamandra algira) is a species of salamander in the Salamandridae family found in Algeria, Morocco, Spain, and possibly Tunisia. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, rivers, and caves. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Subspecies[edit]

  • S. a. algira Mt. Edough (Algeria)-Neotype
  • S. a. tingitana Jabal Mousa (Morocco)
  • S. a. spelaea Ouartass (Morocco)

Source[edit]

  • Donaire-Barroso, D., Martinez-Solano, I., Salvador, A., Garcia-Paris, M., Gil, E.R., Tahar, S. & El Mouden, E.H. 2004.
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