A new subspecies of African fire salamander Salamandra algira (Urodela, Salamandridae) from the Middle Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Hernández, Axel
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A new subspecies within the Salamandra algira species complex from north-western Africa is described. Previous molecular analysis showed that the populations of S. algira splendens from north-western Morocco consisted of two well supported clades: clade 1 distributed in the Rif Mountains, from Chefchaouen (type locality) to Al Hoceima, and clade 2, located southern from clade 1 being isolated in the northern and central Middle Atlas Mountains. Clade 2 is herein described as a distinct subspecies: Salamandra algira atlantica ssp. nov. based on morphological data, allopatric range and molecular divergence. This new subspecies shows an uncorrected pairwise distance of 0.0265 from clade 1 based on cytochrome b DNA sequences. Salamandra algira atlantica ssp. nov. is a slender and large sized salamander with a highly variable colouration pattern. It can be distinguished from S. algira splendens by the greater proportion of coral red in the background colouration, being the only known subspecies of S. algira in which coral red can exceed the proportion of black. Variable number (0–5) of yellow to golden yellow dorsal blotches, but usually in lower numbers than the nominotypical subspecies. Salamandra algira atlantica ssp. nov. inhabits subhumid to humid forests and karstic systems at mid to high elevations. We briefly discuss the phylogenetic and taxonomic issues among the genus Salamandra which encompasses more valid species than currently recognised ​
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