View Full Version : S. s. fastuosa vs bernardezi

28th February 2016, 19:39
I was showing a friend some images of fire salamanders and received the comment along the lines of, "a pigeon's a pigeon's a pigeon." What can I say? I wasn't even going to go there! Comparing Alfredschmidti with Orientalis is pretty straight forward but what about fastuosa with bernardezi? Maybe I have it wrong and a pigeon is a pigeon is a pigeon when it comes to these two subspecies. Then I find this reference. Admittedly it's from an old book but it exemplifies the issue. I know the whole issue of subspecies is complex, compounded by our need to put everything into a convenient box, even if there isn't one. Just look at the variation seen in gigliolli.


29th February 2016, 08:53
According to the most up to date book I have (Feuersalamander, 2010):
It states fastuosa (Schreiber, 1912) as formerly described as s. maculosa forma fastuosa and rather similar, but taller and stronger in built than bernardezi (Wolterstorff, 1928). Bernardezi also is mentioned to give birth not to larvae, but to fully developed young salamanders - like alfredschmidti, the third subspicies of Northern Spain.
The authors suggest that maybe they are not rightfully separate subspecies, especially as they mix in certain regions. It also mentions that Eiselt set these names as synonymous in 1958, although they are generally accepted as two subspecies these days.

So this seems to be a decidedly indecisive maybe as to the pigeon analogy. :D

29th February 2016, 13:55
Dear Salamandrin thank you for your excellent reply. I have both of these subspecies and I'd be hard pushed to tell all of them apart with confidence. I saw on the map that they do over lap in range and actually live in more or less the same place.

1st March 2016, 07:08
Good morning, Blackburn,

I only keep s.s. gigliolii at the moment, but would like to have s.s.fastuosa, too - at a later point when I have more experience in the salamander area. So I couldn't say from my own experience.

But as my book states these differences as "in average", I guess anyone will have these problems. If a fastuosa-specimen is smaller and more lithe than average, or a bernardezi specimen uncommonly large, it seems you could basically pass off one as the other.

I have read that there have been changes made before in the categorising of salamandrae, and some subspecies have become species of their own right. The book I mentioned says there might be more to come:
Dubois&Raffaeli (2009) are quoted in that respect and in reference to subspecies such as s.a.tingitana or the "aurora-variation" of s.a.atra (which already sometimes is referred to as salamandra aurorae in literature).
Especially some of the Spanish types seem a point of serious discussion in the other direction. In the direction of "down-grading", so to say. They seem to live so closely together that you have a hard time finding a "pure" population in nature at all.

So maybe they will be pigeons at some point in the nearer future.
But in the end, they are one or two very beautiful subspecies - and gladly that can't be changed by renaming. ;-)

1st March 2016, 09:49
Dear Salamandrin this is, for me, an outstanding and, in many ways, a very comforting post, in my mind, the whole Salamandra thing is a mess. Where subspecies over lap they produce fertile off spring may be in the similar way to a Saxon fairy swallow and a racing pigeon being able to reproduce. Alfredschmidti and orientalis look obvious candidates don't they? What would an alien visiting our planet think of a great dane and a dachshund? Even without labels, id be perfectly happy with my animals.

2nd March 2016, 07:20
There is some hybridization between fastuosa and bernardezi, and western fastuosa are also viviparous. Local variation in reproductive traits has been recently recognized for terrestris in Germany [albeit in preferred type of water body instead], within S.algira in the Rif, and on the coast of Spain for a subspecies I don't recollect [rapid evolution of terrestriality on a near-shore island]. Within Salamandra, it seems that reproductive details are flexible and capable of rapid and localized evolution.

In other news, S.s.alfredschmidti was recently downgraded to synonym of S.s.bernardezi. It is genetically within the latter, and mostly falls within color variation of it as well.

Added some sources:

2nd March 2016, 12:50
Re alfredschmidti and bernardezi that I find intriguing as the two are more dissimilar than many of the others. I've seen bernardezi showing great size variation with some adults similar to alfredschmidti whereas others are not unlike fastuosa. Thank you for the links, I'll check them through.