Andrias davidianus (Blanchard, 1871)

Class: Amphibia > Order: Caudata > Family: Cryptobranchidae > Genus: Andrias > Species: Andrias davidianus

Sieboldia davidiana Blanchard, 1871, C. R. Hebd. Séances Acad. Sci., Paris, 73: 79. Holotype: MNHNP 7613 (from 'Thibet oriental'), according to Guibé, 1950 "1948", Cat. Types Amph. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat.: 6. See also Thireau, 1986, Cat. Types Urodeles Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat., Rev. Crit.: 27, who discussed other specimens erroneously considered types. Type locality: "Thibet orientale"; given as "Tchong-pa" (= Zhongba, now Jiangyou County, Sichuan Province), China by David, 1875, J. Trois. Voy. Explor. Emp. Chinoise, 2: 20, and Thireau, 1986, Cat. Types Urodeles Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat., Rev. Crit.: 27.

Sieboldia davidiDavid, 1875, J. Trois. Voy. Explor. Emp. Chinoise, 1: 326. Incorrect subsequent spelling.

Megalobatrachus japonicus davidiChang, 1935, Bull. Soc. Zool. France, 60: 350. Chang, 1936, Contr. Etude Morphol. Biol. Syst. Amph. Urodeles Chine: 82. Incorrect subsequent spelling.

Megalobatrachus japonicus davidianusPope and Boring, 1940, Peking Nat. Hist. Bull., 15: 18.

Megalobatrachus davidianusLiu, 1950, Fieldiana, Zool. Mem., 2: 69.

Andrias scheuchzeri davidianaWestphal, 1958, Palaeontographica, Abt. A,, 110: 36.

Andrias davidianusBrame, 1967, Herpeton, California, 2: 5; Estes, 1981, Handb. Palaeoherpetol., 2: 14.

Cryptobranchus davidianusNaylor, 1981, Copeia, 1981: 76-86.

English Names

Chinese Giant Salamander (Cochran, 1961, Living Amph. World: 20; Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 27; Fei, 1999, Atlas Amph. China: 38).


The mountain streams of China, from Qinghai (see comment) to Gansu, southern Shanxi and south to Sichuan, northern Yunnan, 100–1500 m elevation; likely introduced into Taiwan. See comments about this complex of largely unnamed species. 


Literature should be employed cautiously as recent work has shown this nominal taxon to be a complex of species, not surprisingly, showing strong drainage loyalty. 

Synonymy and review (as Megalobatrachus davidianus) in Liu, 1950, Fieldiana, Zool. Mem., 2: 69-77.See accounts by Yang, 1991, Amph. Fauna of Yunnan: 28-30; Ye, Fei, and Hu, 1993, Rare and Economic Amph. China: 65; Fei, 1999, Atlas Amph. China: 38; Thorn and Raffaëlli, 2000, Salamand. Ancien Monde: 147-149; Fei, Hu, Ye, and Huang, 2006, Fauna Sinica, Amph. 1: 244-253; and Raffaëlli, 2007, Les Urodèles du Monde: 67-68. Huang, 1990, Fauna Zhejiang, Amph. Rept.: 17-18, provided an account for Zhejiang (as Megalobatrachus davidianus). Zhang and Wen, 2000, Amph. Guangxi: 19, provided an account for population in Guangxi, China. Fan, Guo, and Liu, 1998, Amph. Rept. Shanxi Prov.: 43-44, provided an account and the records for Shanxi, China. See also brief account by Zhao and Yang, 1997, Amph. Rept. Hengduan Mountains Region: 32. Zhao and Adler, 1993, Herpetol. China: 110, discussed the Taiwanese specimens. Lever, 2003, Naturalized Rept. Amph. World: 227, regarded the Taiwan population as introduced. Tao, Wang, Zheng, and Fang, 2005, Zool. Res., Kunming, 26: 162-167, reported on the genetic structure of four geographic populations of the species. Yang, 2008, in Yang and Rao (ed.), Amph. Rept. Yunnan: 16-17, provided a brief account for Yunnan, China. See photograph, map, description of geographic range and habitat, and conservation status in Stuart, Hoffmann, Chanson, Cox, Berridge, Ramani, and Young, 2008, Threatened Amph. World: 547. Fei, Ye, and Jiang, 2010, Colored Atlas of Chinese Amph.: 71, provided a brief account including photographs of specimen. Fei, Ye, and Jiang, 2012, Colored Atlas Chinese Amph. Distr.: 77, provided an account, photographs, and a map. Raffaëlli, 2013, Urodeles du Monde, 2nd ed.: 86, provided a brief account, photo, and map.  Pierson, Yan, Wang, and Papenfuss, 2014, Amph. Rept. Conserv., 8: 1–6, could not find any Andrias in Qinghai, China, and suggested that populations were either nearly extirpated or completely so by stream quality degradation. Fei and Ye, 2016, Amph. China, 1: 259–252, provided an account, photographs, and range map. Yan, Lü, Zhang, Yuan, Zhao, Huang, Wei, Mi, Zou, Xu, Chen, Wang, Xie, Wu, Xiao, Liang, Jin, Wu, Xu, Tapley, Turvey, Papenfuss, Cunningham, Murphy, Zhang, and Che, 2018, Curr. Biol., 28: R590–R592, provided evidence that this nominal species is composed of several cryptic species, possibly as many as five, currently being mixed by the release of farm-raised animals likely resulting in species extinction via genetic homogenization. In the following article Turvey, Chen, Tapley, Wei, Xie, Yan, Yang, Liang, Tian, Wu, Okada, Wang, Lü, Zhou, Papworth, Redbond, Brown, Che, and Cunningham, 2018, Curr. Biol., 28: R592–R594, document the decline and extirpation of many of these populations in the wild. See account by Yao and Gong, 2012, Amph. Rept. Gansu: 25–26, who provided a brief account and photograph. Shen, 2014, Fauna Hunan, Amph.: 37–48, provided an account. Sparreboom, 2014, Salamanders Old World: 26–29, reviewed the biology, characteristics, distribution, reproduction, and conservation of the species.  Zhang, 2017, Amph. Rept. Fanjing Mts.: 30–35, provided taxonomic and natural history information for the Fanjing Mountains of northeastern Guizhou, China. Liang, Chen, Wang, Zhang, Wang, He, Wu, He, Xie, Li, Merilä, and Wei, 2019, Ecol. Evol., 9: 3879–3890, reported on mtDNA phylogeography, finding 7 divergent geographically coherent clades. Turvey, Marr, Barnes, Brace, Tapley, Murphy, Zhao, and Cunningham, 2019, Ecol. Evol., 9: 10070–10084, revised the  nominal species and found that the Pearl/Nanling drainage of Guizhou, Guangxi, and Guangdong, was assignable to another species, Andrias sligoi, and that the populations from the the Huangshan region of southeastern China (Anhui) represented an unnamed species. The authors also suggested that several other species, some initially detected by Yan et al. (2018) remained to be named. Shu, Liu, Zhao, Li, Hou, Zhao, Wang, Shu, Chang, Jiang, and Xie, 2021, Asian Herpetol. Res., 12: 271–279, discussed the negative effects on the viability of remaining populations in China caused by well-meaning conservation efforts that make for inappropriate translocations of individuals among unnamed lineages. In other words, good intentions + poor taxonomy = disaster.    

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