Liua tsinpaensis (Liu & Hu In Hu, Zhao & Liu, 1966)
This species is rare and is known from northeastern Sichuan and southern Shaanxi. It is threatened by collection for food and medicine as well as by habitat loss and degradation, due to increased agricultural activities. It is listed as vulnerable (Stuart et al., 2008; IUCN, 2010).
Vomerine teeth aligned in two short arches with 7–10 teeth at each side. Premaxillary fontanelle large. 13 costal grooves. Total size smaller than Liua shihi, around 120–140 mm.
The mitochondrial genome has been sequenced by Zhang et al. (2006).
Head round and flat, of equal length and width. Longitudinal groove from posterior part of the eye to occipital region. Labial fold absent. Vomerine teeth arranged in two relatively short, widely separated series between internal nares, with 7-10 teeth in each row. Body cylindrical; 13 costal grooves. Tips of toes and fingers touch when limbs are adpressed. Four fingers, five toes. No webbing. No cornified coverings on palms and soles. Only tips of digits are slightly cornified. Tubercles present on palms and soles but inconspicuous. Tail thick and flattened, of equal length or a little longer than snout vent length. Tailfin fold thick at dorsal side and start from tail base; ventral tailfin fold only noticeable at tip of the tail (Ye et al., 1993; Fei & Ye, 2001; Kuzmin & Thiesmeier, 2001). Males differ from females in having a broader head, a higher tail with thicker base and a smaller distance between fore and hind limbs. Coloration of dorsal side is an irregular cloudlike pattern of gold and dark brown. Flank dark greenish yellow with small white dots. Light-colored spots also present on dorsal side of limbs and lateral side of tail. Tail yellowish above. Brown ventral side sporadically blotted with tiny white dots (Fei & Ye, 2001; Fei et al., 2010).
All measurements are from Fei et al. (2006).
Male (15 specimens). Total length: 119.1–142 mm; snout-vent length: 62.1–71 mm; Head length: 15.8–17.9 mm; Head width: 10.5–12.2 mm; forelimb length: 16–18 mm; hind-limb length: 17.4–20.2 mm.
Female (4 specimens). Total length: 125.1–136.1 mm; snout-vent length: 64.3–68.2 mm; Head length: 16–18.5 mm; Head width: 11.7–12.5 mm; forelimb length: 17.8–18.9 mm; hind-limb length: 20.4–22.5 mm.
Liua tsinpaensis has been variously placed in Ranodon, Pseudohynobius or Liua (Fei & Ye, 1983; Zhao, 1994; Kuzmin & Thiesmeier, 2001). Molecular analysis has shown that the Liua-Pseudohynobius species complex can be divided into two groups, the genus Liua including Liua shihi and L. tsinpaensis, and the genus Pseudohynobius. Genetically, the two species contained in Liua are more closely related to Batrachuperus than to Ranodon (Zeng et al., 2006).
This salamander occurs in Mount Qiling and Daba in northeastern Sichuan (Wanyuan and Nanjiang Co.) and southern Shaanxi (Zhouzhi and Ningshan Co.).
Liua tsinpaensis inhabits mountain areas at elevations of 1,700-1,800 m. It occurs near small streams. Stream water is clear; substrate includes small rocks, a little bit of silt and a few leaves and twigs. The stream is hidden in the lush bush and forest. Adults are not found in water but hidden in crevices or under rocks near the stream or in dried streambed. Larvae swim between rocks or stay on the silt (Fei et al., 2006). This salamander feeds on shrimps and other insects including caterpillars.
Reproduction probably starts in late April and continues to late June; eggs are mostly laid in May. The pair of egg sacs is coiled in a C-shape, the distal end tapering. The egg sacs are less rounded than in L. shihi. Length 122-195 mm, 6-11 eggs in each egg sac, 13 to 20 in total. Eggs are oval shaped, 5 mm in diameter and light gray in coloration. Larvae have a light brown head and dorsum, with black blotches. Black patches of various sizes on tailfin fold. Flanks silvery white, belly completely white. Limbs are light brown. Toes and fingers are black at the tips. Metamorphosis starts when the larvae have reached a length of 60 mm (Fei & Ye, 2001; Kuzmin & Thiesmeier, 2001; AmphibiaWeb, 2010).