Series: Advances in Amphibian Research in the Former Soviet Union Volume: 6
200 pages, Illus, figs, tabs
Mountain salamanders of the genus Ranodon are among the most primitive, endangered and narrow-ranged amphibians of the world. These animals only live in Central Asia within Kazakhstan and China, and are still very poorly known. This work represents a review of all information available to date, i.e. historical, systematics, geographical distribution, palaeontology, morphology, physiology, ecology, behaviour, anthropogenic influences, conservation, captive keeping and breeding of these salamanders. The genus Ranodon appears to include three Recent and one fossil species: R. sibiricus Kessler, 1866, R. tsinpaensis Liu et Hu, 1966, and R. shihi (Liu, 1950). The fossil form of unclear taxonomic status is from the Zailiiskii Mountain Ridge in Kazakhstan. A revised diagnosis of Ranodon is advanced. Taxonomic relationships between the different forms are discussed in due detail. The highly fragmented, localised, patchy distributions at the generic and species levels are discussed in the context of historical changes in climate, landscape, anthropogenic influences, as well as salamander habitat specializations. R. sibiricus seems to be the most threatened congener which may become extinct in the nearest future unless special measures of protection are undertaken. The book can prove useful not only to zoologists, but also to anyone interested in the enigmatic nature of montane Central Asia and its conservation.
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