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Differentiation of salamandra subspecies

schmiggle

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There are 13 subspecies of Salamandra salamandra, and I had thought they were differentiated primarily by pattern, but after seeing similar-looking patterns on different subspecies, I was wondering what the actual differences are. Is it skeletal? Size based? Etc...
 

michael

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I'm guessing that scientifically speaking their is different dna. I'm not a scientist. With many subspecies you can't tell which they are without collection data.
 

FrogEyes

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The subspecies [many are now species] were described using morphological data, including coloration, and sometimes reproductive differences. In some cases, geography is very important, as there are similar forms from distinctly distant locations, either due to convergence or to shared ancestry.

Identifying through these details at the very least requires 1) one or more good European field guides, and 2) scientific papers reviewing or describing one or more of the forms [for example, Salamandra salamandra werneri and S.s.beshkovi in the Balkans: http://biozoojournals.ro/nwjz/content/v8n1/nwjz.121102.Vukov.pdf ]. There can still be problems though - many wild-caught animals not only lack place of origin [but will mostly be from Ukraine, due to export bans elsewhere], but need further revisions [the Salamandra infraimmaculata complex may contain additional species and subspecies].

There is an article on this site, but I don't recall how helpful it is, and I don't have many useful references for European taxa. I do have Jean Raffaelli's recent book, but I have not endeavored to read the Salamandra chapters [it is in French, in which I am rusty].

In any case, it's not as simple as counting colors and stripes or spots.
 
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schmiggle

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I had a feeling it might be that complicated...Luckily it's more or less a non-issue for me as far as pets are concerned, I was more curious generally speaking. Perhaps I will get a European guidebook for my next field-herping trip to Europe. :)
 

JM29

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. In some cases, geography is very important, as there are similar forms from distinctly distant locations, either due to convergence or to shared ancestry.
.

I fully agree with this point. Subspecies may be difficult to differenciate on uniquely morphological characters. More difficult, different morphs can exist in one given subspecies.
Jean Raffaëlli's 2013 handbook describes 8 species with 27 subspecies, with 13 subspecies for the species Salamandra salamandra alone. Another difficulty is the geographic location, which must be very precise when one deal with spanish subspecies and species.
 

FrogEyes

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Offhand, no. Jean sent me one. I can think of three LIKELY sources; in the UK, try Natural History Book Store [NHBS]. In North America try Zoobook Sales. In Australia, try Herpbooks.com. You can order from any of these from anywhere in the world, but obviously shipping costs will differ. You might also try ordering it from Jean.
 
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