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Assessment Results

© 2017 Dr. Joachim Nerz (1 of 20 )

AmphibiaWeb species account

IUCN Red List assessment

Conservation Needs Assessment

Andrias davidianus ,   Chinese Giant Salamander
Assessed for:  China   on: 04 May 2017   by: Benjamin Tapley  
Assessment Status: Completed  
Order:   Caudata     Family:   Cryptobranchidae

IUCN Global Red List:   Critically Endangered (CR)   
IUCN National Red List:   (not assessed)   
Distribution:     China  
Evolutionary Distinctiveness score:   61.18251793 
Recommended Conservation Actions:   In Situ Conservation  , In Situ Research  , Mass Production in Captivity  , Conservation Education   
Additional Comments:    

Question #Short NameQuestion TextResponseComments
1 Extinction risk Current IUCN Red List category. [Data obtained from the IUCN Red List.] Critically Endangered (CR)
2 Possibly extinct Is there a strong possibility that this species might be extinct in the wild? No, unlikely
3 Phylogenetic significance The taxon’s Evolutionary Distinctiveness (ED) score, as generated by the ZSL EDGE program. (These data are not editable by Assessors). ED value 50-100
4 Protected habitat Is a population of at least 50% of the individuals of the taxon included within a reliably protected area or areas? Unknown Although there are a number of reserves that have been established to specifically protect the habitat of this species there are no recent or accurate estimates of wild populations. This species has undergone range wide decline which is likely to be more pronounced outside the PA network due to over exploitation and habitat loss / degradation.
5 Habitat for reintroduction Does enough suitable habitat exist, either within or outside of currently protected areas that is suitable for potential reintroduction or translocation? Yes, probably As one of the primary threats to this species is unsustainable harvesting for meat or to stock salamander farms there are a number of protected areas which could potentially support translocated populations of this species throughout China.
6 Previous reintroductions Have reintroduction or translocation attempts been made in the past for this species? Yes, but outcome is unknown Many salamander farms release a proportion of their stock to the wild each year. However there is little or no genetic or pathogen screening or post release monitoring and some of the sites where salamanders are released are not appropriate in terms of habitat.
7 Threat mitigation Are the threats facing the taxon, including any new and emerging threats not considered in the IUCN Red List, potentially reversible? Threats are reversible in time frame The threats to Chinese giant salamanders include habitat loss, pollution and unsustainable harvesting. These threats can be removed or reversed in some parts of their range.
8 Over-collection from the wild Is the taxon suffering from unsustainable collection within its natural range, either for food, for the pet trade or for any other reason, which threatens the species’ continued persistence in the wild? Yes, probably This species is traded for food and wild animals have been collected to stock salamander farms. The farming industry has grown rapidly over the last decade. Chinese giant salamanders are also being offered for sale as pets although the animals being sold most likely come from farms.
9 Population recovery Is the known population of this species in the wild large enough to recover naturally, without ex situ intervention if threats are mitigated? Unknown There have been very few studies to ascertain the status of Chinese giant salamanders. The studies that have been undertaken tend to focus on specific regions and are now largely out of date.
10 Biological distinctiveness Does the taxon exhibit, for example, a distinctive reproductive mode, behaviour, aspect of morphology or physiology, within its Class (e.g. Amphibia, Reptilia etc.)? Aspect of biology identified that is unique to species This is the largest extant amphibian.
11 Cultural/socio-economic importance Does the taxon have a special human cultural value (e.g. as a national or regional symbol, in a historic context, featuring in traditional stories) or economic value (e.g. food, traditional medicine, tourism) within its natural range or in a wider global context? Yes High economic value, features in Chinese mythology and has been depicted in Chinese art for centuries.
12 Scientific importance Is the species vital to current or planned research other than species-specific ecology/biology/conservation? (e.g. human medicine, climate change, environmental pollutants and conservation science), within its Class (e.g. Amphibia, Reptilia etc.)? No research dependent on this species
13 Ex situ research Does conserving this species (or closely related species) in situ depend upon research that can be most easily carried out ex situ? No A lot is known about this species as it is farmed intensively.
14 Husbandry analog Do the biological and ecological attributes of this species make it suitable for developing husbandry regimes for more threatened related species? i.e. could this species be used in captivity to help to develop husbandry and breeding protocols which could be used for a similar, but more endangered species at a later stage? No
15 Captive breeding Has this species been successfully maintained and bred in captivity? Yes, bred to F2 This species has been bred in their millions as they are commercially farmed. Some breeding is reliant on hormones but farms are increasingly able to breed Chinese giant salamanders naturally due to husbandry improvements and the use of semi natural enclosures on farms, these farms are usually within the distributional range of the species and are fed by water from local rivers which the salamanders inhabit / inhabited. Therefore the seasonal changes experienced by salamanders on farms are natural. Chinese giant salamanders have been breed in closed systems in Europe but this is very rare (2 records).
16 Educational potential Is the species especially diurnal/active/colourful and therefore suited to be an educational ambassador for conservation of this group of species? Yes Although it is not brightly coloured and largely nocturnal this species has a high educational potential as it is the largest extant amphibian has more than one local name, economically important and is culturally significant and a potential flagship species for the conservation of freshwater systems and watersheds.
17 Mandate Is there an existing conservation mandate recommending the ex situ conservation of this taxon? Yes
18 Range State approval Would a proposed ex situ initiative for this species be supported (and approved) by the range State (either within the range State or out-of-country ex situ)? Yes, probably Likely to be Within China only
19 Founder specimens Are sufficient animals of the taxon available or potentially available (from wild or captive sources) to initiate the specified ex situ program? Unknown Although there are millions of farmed salamanders these animals are likely unsuitable founders for conservation breeding programmes. Ranavirus is present on farms and as there are no reliable anti-mortem screening techniques for this disease farm stock should not be used as founding stock for a conservation breeding programme. Very few truly wild animals remain; many of the salamanders that have been encountered in recent years are likely animals released from farms or animals that have escaped from farms.
20 Taxonomic status Has a complete taxonomic analysis of the species in the wild been carried out, to fully understand the functional unit you wish to conserve (i.e. have species limits been determined)? No Due to the large range of this species it is likely that the populations from the three river basins in China have a different genetic profile. There has been considerable genetic pollution due to farm releases and it may be too late to identify or conserve the different genetic units. There are unconfirmed reports of this species occurring in Qinghai a high altitude plateau, if this is the case this population is likely to be genetically distinct.

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