Plethodontidae Gray, 1850

Class: Amphibia > Order: Caudata > Family: Plethodontidae
460 species

Plethodontidae Gray, 1850, Cat. Spec. Amph. Coll. Brit. Mus., Batr. Grad.: 31. See subfamilial accounts for complete synonymies. Placed on the Official List of Family-group Names in Zoology by Opinion 921, Anonymous, 1970, Bull. Zool. Nomencl., 27: 79.

English Names

Lungless Salamanders (Cochran, 1961, Living Amph. World: 31; Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 29; Stebbins, 2003, Field Guide W. Rept. Amph., Ed. 3: 168).


Extreme southern Alaska and Nova Scotia (Canada) south to eastern Brazil and central Bolivia; southern Europe; Korea.


The monograph by Wake, 1966, Mem. S. California Acad. Sci., 4: 1–111, was for many years the standard for evolutionary relationships. It is now superseded but remains a useful source for morphological character descriptions. Larson, 1984, in Hecht et al. (eds.), Evol. Biol., 17: 119–217, and Lombard and Wake, 1986, Syst. Zool., 35: 532–551, for discussion of phylogeny within the family as understood at that time. Sever, 1994, Herpetol. Monogr., 7: 276–337, discussed cloacal morphology and phylogeny in the family. Mueller, Macey, Jaekel, Wake, and Boore, 2004, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 101: 13820–13825, Chippindale, Bonett, Baldwin, and Wiens, 2004, Evolution, 58: 2809–2822, and Macey, 2005, Cladistics, 21: 194–202, provided the first substantial efforts toward a molecular phylogeny, the latter two formulating a flexible taxonomy that did much to elucidate phylogeny. Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297: 1–370, provided a discussion of the taxonomic history of this group, but followed the classificatory novelties of Chippindale et al., 2004, and Macey, 2005. Vieites, Min, and Wake, 2007, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 104: 19903–19907, also provided a tree of plethodontids, their taxonomic novelty being the union of Bolitoglossinae, Hemidactyliinae, and Spelerpinae in an enlarged Hemidactyliinae, the sister of Plethodontinae. Vieites, Román, Wake, and Wake, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 59: 623–635, employing complete mitochondrial genomes (but excluding certain kinds of evidence) and three nuclear loci, suggested a phylogeny and taxonomy of plethodontids that differed from the earlier taxonomies by Chippindale, Bonett, Baldwin, and Wiens, 2004, Evolution, 58: 2809–2822, and Macey, 2005, Cladistics, 21: 194–202, primarily in applying a symmetrical subfamilial taxonomy rather than the asymmetrical one that had been applied earlier to deal with topological instability among major groups. Petranka, 1998, Salamand. U.S. Canada: 157-416, provided account for the genera and species of the USA. Kozak, Mendyk, and Wiens, 2009, Evolution, 63: 1769–1784, reported on the phylogenetics of plethodontids as did Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543–583, applying a dissimilar molecular dataset and a much larger set of terminals, arrived at a very similar topology, but accepted the older asymmetrical taxonomy of Chippindale et al., 2004, and Macey, 2005. Because symmetrical taxonomies are more informative and the alternative taxonomies are both consistent with the inferred trees, for purposes of this catalogue I (DRF) apply the Vieites et al., 2011, taxonomy and note in the records where the two recent papers differ in topology. For easy comparison, the earlier (2004/2005) Plethodontinae remains the same (containing five tribes: Aneidini (Aneides), Desmognathini (Desmognathus and Phaeognathus), Ensatinini (Ensatina), Hydromantini (Hydromantes [and Atylodes and Speleomantes if recognized]), and Plethodontini (Plethodon, but the subfamilies Spelerpinae, Bolitoglossinae, and Hemidactyliinae are transferred to an enlarged Hemidactyliinae. Hemidactyliinae contains four tribes: Batrachosepsini (Batrachoseps), Bolitoglossini (Bolitoglossa, Bradytriton, Chiropterotriton, Cryptotriton, Dendrotriton, Ixalotriton [a synonym of Pseudoeurycea], Nototriton, Nyctanolis, Oedipina, Parvimolge [a synonym of Pseudoeurycea], and Thorius), Hemidactyliini (Hemidactylium), and Spelerpini (Eurycea, Gyrinophilus, Haideotriton [a synonym of Eurycea], Pseudotriton, Stereochilus, and Urspelerpes). Vitt and Caldwell, 2009, Herpetology, 3rd Ed.: 430–432, provided a general taxonomic account and map as part of a much more general and extensive overview of biology. Zhang and Wake, 2009, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 53: 492–508, reported on molecular phylogenetics of salamanders based on mtDNA and provided an estimate of time since origin of the salamander families. Zheng, Peng, Kuro-o, and Zeng, 2011, Mol. Biol. Evol., 28: 2521–2535, reported on the estimated time of origin of this taxon. Blackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 39–55, briefly reviewed the taxonomic history of this taxon. Powell, Collins, and Hooper, 2011, Key Herpetofauna U.S. & Canada, 2nd Ed.: 13–34, provided a key to the genera and species of the United States and Canada. Chen, Wang, Liu, Xie, and Jiang, 2011, Curr. Zool., Chengdu, 57: 785–805, on the basis of 11 protein-coding mtDNA genes, suggested that the Bolitoglossinae of Vieites et al., 2011, is paraphyletic with respect to remaining plethodontids as well as the Hemidactyliini. Wake, 2012, Zootaxa, 3484: 75–82, discussed and reviewed the taxonomy of Plethodontidae. Dubois and Raffaëlli, 2012, Alytes, 28: 77–161, provided a taxonomy of plethodontids based on others' work. Vitt and Caldwell, 2013, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of life history, diagnosis, and taxonomy. Köhler, 2011, Amph. Cent. Am.: 36–92, provided keys, maps, and brief accounts of the species of Central America. Altig and McDiarmid, 2015, Handb. Larval Amph. US and Canada, provided an account of larval morphology of the species of the USA and Canada. Shen, Liang, Chen, Mao, Wake, and Zhang, 2016, Syst. Biol., 65: 66–81, provided an historical biogeography, rejecting the out-of-Appalachia hypothsis, of the entire family based on a large multilocus dataset. 

Contained taxa (460 sp.):

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