Mertensiella caucasica (Waga, 1876)

Class: Amphibia > Order: Caudata > Family: Salamandridae > Subfamily: Salamandrinae > Genus: Mertensiella > Species: Mertensiella caucasica

Exaeretus caucasicus Waga, 1876, Rev. Mag. Zool., Paris, Ser. 3, 4: 327. Syntypes: MNHNP (1 specimen) and MZV (1 specimen), by original designation. Thireau, 1986, Cat. Types Urodeles Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat., Rev. Crit.: 23, regarded MNHNP 6477 (formerly 1877.96) as the holotype. Type locality: "altissimis montibus Caucasi, supra limites silvarum, in regione graminum" (= Grass zone above the forests on the higher elevations of the Caucasus Mountains); rendered as Zekarskii Pass by Nikolskii, 1918, Fauna Rossii, Zemnovodnye: 192, and "Zekari Mountain Pass between river Kura and Rioni, Georgia" by Kuzmin, 1999, Amph. Former Soviet Union: 138.

Salamandra caucasicaBoulenger, 1882, Cat. Batr. Grad. Batr. Apoda Coll. Brit. Mus., Ed. 2: 5.

Salamandra caucasiaKnoblauch, 1905, Ber. Senckenb. Naturforsch. Ges., 1905: 89. Incorrect subsequent spelling.

Mertensiella caucasicaWolterstorff, 1925, Abh. Ber. Mus. Nat. Heimatkd. Magdeburg, 4: 244. Thorn, 1968, Salamand. Eur. Asie Afr. Nord: 178.

Salamandra (Mertensiella) caucasicaÖzeti, 1967, Copeia, 1967: 287.

Mertensiella caucasica caucasicaTartarashvili and Bakradze, 1989, Bull. Acad. Sci. Georgia, Tbilisi, 133: 177–179.

English Names

Caucasian Salamander (Ananjeva, Borkin, Darevsky, and Orlov, 1988, Dict. Amph. Rept. Five Languages: 32; Tartarashvili and Bakradze, 1989, Bull. Acad. Sci. Georgia, Tbilisi, 133: 179; Stumpel-Rienks, 1992, Ergänzungsband Handbuch Rept. Amph. Eur., Trivialnamen der Herpetofauna Eur.: 50; Tarkhnishvili and Gokhelashvili, 1999, Adv. Amph. Res. Former Soviet Union, 4: v).

Caucasus Salamander (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 35).


South-central Georgia (Kura River, Borjom region, northwestern Trialeti ridge). See comment. 

Geographic Occurrence

Natural Resident: Georgia

Endemic: Georgia


Much of the literature (prior to 2022) cited below actually applies to Mertensiella djanaschivilii. See account by Kuzmin, 1999, Amph. Former Soviet Union: 138–146, who doubted the validity of the currently recognized subspecies (now Mertensiella djanaschvilii and Mertensiella caucasica). Kuzmin, 2013, Amph. Former Soviet Union, Ed. 2: 71–75, provided an account. Tarkhnishvili, Thorpe, and Arntzen, 2000, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 14: 414–422, noted that two populations that are likely distinct species are distinguishable, one in central Georgia (now Mertensiella caucasica) and another in southwestern Georgia and northeastern Turkey (now Mertensiella djanaschvilii). Franzen, 1999, in Grossenbacher and Thiesmeier (eds.), Handbuch Rept. Amph. Eur., 4(1): 329–366, provided a review of the biology. Obst in Engelmann, Fritzsche, Günther, and Obst, 1993, Lurche Kriechtiere Eur.: 73–74, provided a brief account, figure, and map. 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: 603. Tarkhnishvili, Kaya, Gavashelishvili, and Serbinova, 2008, Herpetol. J., 18: 155–163, provided evidence that two allopatric species (now Mertensiella caucasica and Mertensiella djanaschivilii) are covered by this one taxonomic name, that can be diagnosed by fixed mtDNA differences and habitat variables. Raffaëlli, 2013, Urodeles du Monde, 2nd ed.: 214–215, provided a brief account, photograph, and map. Sparreboom, 2014, Salamanders Old World: 252–255, reviewed the biology, characteristics, distribution, reproduction, and conservation of the species. See Dufresnes, 2019, Amph. Eur., N. Afr., & Middle East: 167, for brief summary of identifying morphology and biology, a range map, as well as a photograph, suggesting that this is species complex. Raffaëlli, 2022, Salamanders & Newts of the World: 255–258, provided an account (including distinguishing Mertensiella djanaschvilii from Mertensiella caucasica), summarizing systematics, life history, population status, and distribution (including a polygon map). 

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