Ambystoma andersoni 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Ambystomatidae

Scientific Name: Ambystoma andersoni
Species Authority: Krebs & Brandon, 1984
Common Name(s):
English Anderson's Salamander
Spanish Achoque (Local Mexican Name), Ajolote
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2015. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. New York, USA. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: Based on both allozymes and mtDNA, this is one of the more differentiated of the Mexican Ambystoma species; morphologically, it has evolved a superficially similar body plan to the distantly related A. dumerilii from Lago Pátzcuaro (H.B. Shaffer pers. comm.).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-09-09
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Lamoreux, J.
Contributor(s): Shaffer, H.B., Wake, D., Parra-Olea, G. & Flores-Villela, O.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Sharp, D., Hobin, L. & Arias Caballero, P.
Listed as Critically Endangered because its extent of occurrence is 19 km2, all individuals are in a single location, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of the lake habitat around Zacapu.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Critically Endangered (CR)
2004 Critically Endangered (CR)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is known only from one lake (Lago Zacapu) and its surrounding streams, in north-western Michoacan, Mexico, at 2,000 m asl. It has an extent of occurrence and area of occupancy of 19 km2.
Countries occurrence:
Mexico (Michoacán)
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2: 18.85
Number of Locations: 1
Lower elevation limit (metres): 2000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The species is uncommon and its population is probably declining.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is paedomorphic, and requires a clean, cool aquatic habitat. It is found only in Lago Zacapu and the spring-fed streams and canals associated with the lake. They do not metamorphose in nature, and individuals that have been artificially induced to metamorphose with thyroid hormone in the laboratory do not thrive. Their diet consists largely of snails and crawfish.
Systems: Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is consumed locally for food and believed medicinal properties.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat to this species is the pollution of the lake due to surrounding agricultural and tourist activities, next to the lagoon and in conjunction with it is a new bathing area. The animals are also heavily harvested for food, and predatory fish have been introduced into the lake, which might well pose a major problem for the species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions
It does not occur in any protected areas. However, this is a species that could recover its numbers if the lake can be kept clean and restored. This species is protected under the category Pr (Special protection) by the Government of Mexico. 

Conservation Needed
Conservation and restoration of its habitat is urgent. This species can be bred in laboratory conditions, and so captive animals could be a source of new individuals to repopulate the natural habitats. 

Research Needed
Studies are needed to evaluate the sustainability of the harvest as well as the impacts of introduced predatory fishes. There is a strong need to have a species management plan and a water management plan.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2015. Ambystoma andersoni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T59051A53973442. . Downloaded on 30 November 2015.
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