Order Caudata
Salamanders

Family Ambystomatidae - Mole Salamanders



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Ambystoma maculatum
Ambystoma maculatum (Shaw) - Spotted Salamander

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Description: Ambystoma maculatum is a large, burrowing species, with adults reaching total lengths of 11.2 to 19.7 cm. Dorsal coloration ranges from gray to dark brown. Several pairs of rounded, yellow to orange spots form two irregular rows from eyes to near the end of the tail. Adults typically have 12 costal grooves.

Distribution and Habitat: The spotted salamander, which occurs statewide, is most often found in hardwood or mixed pine-hardwood forests, near both permanent and temporary pools.

Taxonomy: Anderson (1967a) does not list subspecies.


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Ambystoma opacum
Ambystoma opacum (Gravenhurst) - Marbled Salamander

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Description: Adult marbled salamanders are stout and medium-sized, ranging in total length from 9 to 10.7 cm. Dorsal ground color is typically dark gray to black. Light gray or white dorsal markings form crossbands that are usually complete, but sometimes broken. Costal groove counts range from 11 to 13.

Distribution and Habitat: Though distribution records are lacking for much of northeastern Tennessee, A. opacum probably occurs statewide. This assumption is based on distributional information provided from Kentucky by Barbour (1971) and from North Carolina and Virginia by Martof et al. (1980). However, Conant's and Collins' (1991) distribution map indicates the species is absent in northeastern Tennessee. The marbled salamander is known from a wide variety of habitats ranging from bottomland hardwood forests to relatively dry, upland pine forests.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Anderson, 1967b).


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Ambystoma talpoideum
Ambystoma talpoideum (Holbrook) - Mole Salamander

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Description: Ambystoma talpoideum is a medium-sized, short, stocky salamander, with relatively large head and legs. Adults reach total lengths of 7.5 to 10.0 cm. Dorsal ground color ranges from gray to black. Dorsal markings, if present, consist of light colored flecks. There are typically 11 costal grooves.

Distribution and Habitat: The mole salamander is known from swamps and flooded depressions from the Coastal Plain, northern portions of the Western Highland Rim, the Eastern Highland Rim, the Cumberland Plateau west of the Sequatchie Valley, and the extreme southeastern Blue Ridge. Distributional boundaries were provided by Redmond et al. (1982) and Conant and Collins (1991). Populations in the Blue Ridge Mountains of extreme southeastern Tennessee, and those reported by Braswell and Murdock (1979) from southwestern North Carolina, are considered part of one continuous geographic unit that is disjunct from other other portions of the species' range. Likewise, the Cumberland Plateau and Eastern Highland Rim populations in Tennessee and Alabama (Mount, 1975) are regarded as a continuous and disjunct unit. Populations in the northern Western Highland Rim appear to be continuous with those in the Coastal Plain in West Tennessee. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994a) lists the mole salamander as a species in need of management.

Taxonomy: No subspecific variation has been recognized for this species (Shoop, 1964).


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Ambystoma texanum
Ambystoma texanum (Matthes) - Smallmouth Salamander

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Description: Compared to other Tennessee ambystomatids, A. texanum is more elongate and has a narrower head and smaller mouth. Adults attain total lengths ranging from 10.0 to 14.0 cm. Dorsal coloration ranges from dark gray to black. Distinct dorsal markings are usually absent, but when present consist of scattered, light flecks. Costal groove counts ranges from 13 to 15.

Distribution and Habitat: Ambystoma texanum occurs in the western half of the state. Its distribution outside the Coastal Plain, especially in south-central Tennessee, is uncertain and needs further study. The species is usually found in bottomland forests near swamps, ponds, and small sluggish streams. However, in Middle Tennessee it has been found along faster flowing woodland creeks and rivers.

Taxonomy: According to Anderson (1967c), there are no subspecies. Petranka (1982) provided evidence that the species as traditionally defined may include a pair of sibling species, including a pond form and a stream form. He found only the pond form in Tennessee.


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Ambystoma tigrinum
Ambystoma tigrinum (Green) - Tiger Salamander

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Description: The tiger salamander is the largest ambystomatid in Tennessee, with adults ranging from 18.0 to 21.0 cm in total length. Dorsal ground color is gray to black, prominently marked with irregularly shaped yellow spots or blotches. Costal groove count is typically 12 to 13.

Distribution and Habitat: Except for north-central Tennessee, occurrence records for A. tigrinum are few. Many specimens have been taken in chance encounters during or just after heavy rains in late winter or early spring. For example, Parker (1948) reported a specimen found on a sidewalk in Memphis. Two records from Knox County were reported by residents who found specimens roaming their premises following heavy rains. The species may be absent from the Blue Ridge Mountains and a large area of northeastern Tennessee. Breeding habitats in Tennessee include flooded woodlands (Taylor, 1938), farm ponds (Gentry, 1955-1956; Ashton, 1966), shallow temporary ponds (Snyder, 1972), and limestone quarry ponds (Owen and Yeatman, 1954).

Taxonomy: Only the nominate subspecies has been reported from Tennessee (Gehlbach, 1967).


FROGS Literature Cited


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