Sun, Aug 14, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Rare salamander found in Yushan National Park

Staff Writer, with CNA

Researchers have found 95 hynobius arisanensis, a rare species of salamander endemic to Taiwan, in high-altitude habitats in Yushan National Park this year, park officials said.

The discovery of the group of amphibians, which have survived on Taiwan since the last Ice Age, was one of the largest in the country in recent years, officials said.

The research group led by Lu Kuang-yang (呂光洋), a life sciences professor from National Taiwan Normal University, discovered the species at an altitude of more than 3,600m above sea level in the first half of this year.

The number of hynobius arisanensis the researchers recorded at Yushan was almost twice the number found at the mid-altitude Tataka area, located between the Yushan and Alishan mountain ranges.

Alishan, with its highest peak reaching 2,663m, was where hynobius arisanensis — also known locally as Alishan salamander — were first discovered.

Officials said they have carried out long-term monitoring and research on the rare salamander to understand the effects of climate change on its environment in Yushan.

Taiwan is the most southerly habitat of the salamander in the world and now global warming threatens their survival at lower altitudes.

Su Chih-feng (蘇志峰), director of the park’s preservation office, said that a longer monitoring period was needed to determine if the salamander species did indeed move to higher altitudes because of global warming.

He said the number of salamanders had not decreased in the Alishan or Tataka regions.

Although researchers have so far only found the Alishan salamander species in Yushan Park, they have not ruled out the possibility of finding other salamander species there, as habitats in the park are diverse and well preserved, park officials said.

The Alishan salamander is restricted to Alishan, Yushan and Peitawushan in Taiwan and lives mostly in mountain streams, cold springs and water seepage areas in coniferous or broadleaf forests at 2,000m or higher.

Hynobius arisanensis is classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ red list of threatened species.

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