Order Caudata
Salamanders

Family Plethodontidae - Lungless Salamanders

 
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Aneides aeneus
Aneides aeneus (Cope and Packard) - Green Salamander

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Description: Adults attain total lengths of 8.3 to 12.5 cm. Toe tips are expanded to form adhesive discs. The dorsum is dark brown ,with profuse green to greenish yellow, lichen-shaped blotches.

Distribution and Habitat: Aneides aeneus is found primarily in the Cumberland Mountains, Cumberland Plateau, and Eastern Highland Rim. Presumably disjunct populations occur in the Bays Mountains, on Clinch Mountain, in scattered areas of the Appalachian Ridge and Valley, and in a cedar glade in the Inner Central Basin. Weller (1931) reported a specimen from the eastern slope of Mt. LeConte in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. King (1939) verified the identification of this specimen. Since 1931 the herpetofauna of the Great Smoky Mountains has been studied extensively by numerous scientists and Weller's report remains the only record of the species from that area. The occurrence of A. aeneus in the Great Smoky Mountains today is therefore considered doubtful. Suitable habitats include damp rock crevices of shaded sandstone outcrops and the space beneath loose bark on trees in mesic upland hardwood forests.

Taxonomy: No subspecific variation is recognized (Gordon, 1967). Type locality is mouth of Nickajack Cave, Marion County, Tennessee.


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Desmognathus aeneus
Desmognathus aeneus Bishop and Brown - Seepage Salamander

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Description: Desmognathus aeneus is a small, slender salamander, with adult total lengths ranging from 4.4 to 5.7 cm. A light line extends from just behind the eye to angle of jaw. Tail is rounded, without a keel. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Dorsal ground color is usually reddish brown or bronze, and irregularly shaped dark spots, sometimes forming a mid-dorsal dark stripe, are typically present. The sides of the trunk usually have dark mottling that forms wide, irregularly bounded dorsolateral stripes. These may extend from the forelimbs to the tip of tail. Dorsal surfaces of thighs usually have a light reddish or tan spot. Venter immaculate or lightly mottled, with dark melanophores.

Distribution and Habitat: In Tennessee the seepage salamander is restricted to the Blue Ridge Mountains, specifically the Unicoi Mountains, in extreme southeastern Tennessee. Jones (1982a) studied the ecology and distribution of the species in Tennessee and characterized its habitat as leaf litter near small streams and seepage areas between 280 and 1000 m elevation. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994a) listed the species as in need of management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1994) listed it as a Category 2 candidate for federal listing. However, the most recent list of federal candidate species (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996) does not include the seepage salamander.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Harrison, 1992).


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Desmognathus fuscus
Desmognathus fuscus (Rafinesque) - Dusky Salamander

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Description: Desmognathus fuscus is a medium-sized salamander that exhibits extremely variable color patterns. Adult total length ranges from 6.4 to 12.7 cm. A light line extends from just behind the eye to angle of jaw. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Tail is triangular in cross section and is moderately keeled. Jaw line of mature individuals is slightly sinuous. Toes lack dark friction pads. Jaw teeth have blunt crowns. Dorsal ground color ranges from light gray to dark brown. Dorsal color pattern is highly variable. Dorsal dark markings may be indistinct, randomly arranged, or consist of several pairs of light tan, yellowish, or reddish spots bordered by wavy (or sometimes straight) dark dorsolateral stripes. Dorsal color blends gradually with ventral color. Venter is usually mottled with dark melanophores. Older individuals may be melanistic. Desmognathus fuscus and D. santeetlah can often be distinguished by external characteristics, but for some populations a biochemical analysis is required (Tilley, 1981, 1988).

Distribution and Habitat: Excluding the Mississippi River Lowlands and Loess Plain of western Tennessee and high elevations in extreme eastern Tennessee, D. fuscus is common along small to large streams. An apparently isolated population occurs on the Mississippi River Bluffs near Ripley, Tennessee (Brandon and Huheey, 1979; Brandon, pers. comm.). Its occurrence in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and at high elevations along the Tennessee-North Carolina border has been the subject of debate and confusion. King (1939) reported D. fuscus up to 1677 m in the park. Martof and Rose (1963) noted that D. ochrophaeus was morphologically similar to D. fuscus in the Great Smoky Mountains and that D. fuscus was actually rare in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Huheey (1966) and Huheey and Stupka (1967) believed D. fuscus was absent in the park and that previous reports were based on incorrect identifications. Tilley (1981) described D. santeetlah from high elevations along the Tennessee-North Carolina border and stated that past reports of D. fuscusin the park probably referred to D. santeetlah. Tilley (1985) identified D. fuscus from Whiteoak Sinks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The status of D. fuscus at low elevations in the park needs further study. Tilley's studies are based primarily on electrophoretic analysis of proteins, a technique useless in the identification of preserved specimens. Because of the confusion that exists regarding the status of putative D. fuscus from the park, we did not include literature records and museum locality data from the park on our distribution map for this species. In the Blue Ridge Mountains south of the park, the occurrence of D. fuscus has been documented by Tilley (1981) and Jones (1982b). Both authors note that D. fuscus and D. santeetlah are essentially parapatric, with D. santeetlah replacing D. fuscus at high elevations along the Tennessee-North Carolina state line. The distributions of D. fuscus and D. santeetlah north of the park are virtually unknown (Tilley, 1981; Tilley, pers. comm.).

Taxonomy: In Tennessee, Conant and Collins (1991) depicted a relatively wide zone of intergradation between D. f. fuscus and D. f. conanti Rossman. The zone enters the state at its southeastern corner and extends northwestward into western Kentucky. Collins (1991a) speculates these subspecies may represent two separate species. Hybridization with D. santeetlah has been reported by Tilley (1981, 1988) and Jones (1982b).


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Desmognathus imitator
Desmognathus imitator Dunn - Imitator Salamander

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Description: A medium-sized species, D. imitator is morphologically very similar to D. ochrophaeus. Although morphological characteristics may be useful in distinguishing the two species, the only sure method involves an electrophoretic analysis of proteins. Adult D. imitator range from 6.4 to 10.0 cm in total length. A light line extends from eye to angle of jaw. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Tail is round in cross section and lacks a keel. Jaw line of mature individuals is strongly sinuous. Many individuals have yellow, orange, or red cheek patches. Melanistic specimens with red cheek patches mimic the red-cheeked Jordan's salamander, Plethodon jordani. In contrast to the usually straight-edged dorsolateral dark bands of D. ochrophaeus, D. imitator typically has wavy dorsolateral bands that may be broken, and that extend onto the dorsum to enclose irregularly shaped light spots. Venter is usually gray.

Distribution and Habitat: Because of the likelihood of confusing preserved specimens of D. imitator and D. ochrophaeus, the locality data presented in our maps were taken exclusively from Tilley et al. (1978) and Tilley (1985). Desmognathus imitator is restricted to Great Smoky Mountains National Park where it occurs at or above 900 m along small creeks and seepages, in moist leaf litter, and on wet rock faces (Tilley, 1985).

Taxonomy: This form was originally described by Dunn (1927b) as a subspecies of D. fuscus. Most subsequent authors considered it a color morph of D. ochrophaeus. Based on genetic studies using electrophoretic techniques, Tilley et al. (1978) provided evidence that D. imitator deserved species status. According to Tilley (1985), D. imitator is a monotypic species. Type locality is Indian Pass, Great Smoky Mountains, Sevier County, Tennessee.


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Desmognathus monticola
Desmognathus monticola Dunn - Seal Salamander

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Description: Adult D. monticola range from 8.3 to 12.5 cm in total length. A light line extends from just behind the eye to angle of jaw. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Tail is triangular in cross section and is moderately keeled. Dark friction pads may be present on tips of toes. Jaw teeth have pointed crowns. Dorsal ground color ranges from light tan to dark brown. Dorsal dark markings are often distinct and form vermiculate blotches. Blotches may enclose several pairs of light tan or reddish brown light spots. Old individuals may be completely dark brown. The transition from dorsal to ventral color on the sides is abrupt. Venter may be immaculate or lightly pigmented with melanophores.

Distribution and Habitat: The range of D. monticola in Tennessee includes approximately the eastern quarter of the state. Its presence in the Blue Ridge and Cumberland mountains is well documented, but its presence in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley and Cumberland Plateau has been documented from only a few widely scattered localities. Seal salamanders occur along permanent, small to medium-sized rocky woodland streams. The species seems to prefer streams with a moderate to steep gradient. Mathews and Echternacht (1984) reported D. monticola from above 1305 m in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Conant and Collins, 1991).


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Desmognathus ochrophaeus
Desmognathus ochrophaeus Cope - Mountain Dusky Salamander

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Description: Desmognathus ochrophaeus is a medium-sized desmognathine, with adults ranging from 7.0 to 10.0 cm in total length. A light line extends from eye to angle of jaw. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Tail is round in cross section and keel is absent. Jaw line of mature individuals is strongly sinuous. Dorsal ground color ranges from light gray to dark brown. Some individuals are melanistic. Dorsal markings are highly variable. Dorsum may be relatively plain with only a few scattered small dark spots or flecks, or dark markings may be concentrated to form a mid-dorsal line. Dark pigment on sides forms dorsolateral bands that may have wavy or straight dorsal edges, or lateral dark pigment may extend onto dorsum to enclose several light, irregularly shaped spots. Ventral color ranges from light gray to brown, with dark melanophores usually present.

Distribution and Habitat: The mountain dusky salamander is known from the Blue Ridge Mountains, Cumberland Mountains, Cumberland Plateau, and from Bays Mountain in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley. It has recently been found on the Eastern Highland Rim (Miller, 1991). For reasons discussed in the account for D. imitator, locality data for D. ochrophaeus from Great Smoky Mountains National Park was taken exclusively from Tilley et al. (1978). At high elevations in the Blue Ridge Mountains, D. ochrophaeus inhabits mesic forests where it may be found in leaf litter or under rocks and logs. At lower elevations and elsewhere in Tennessee the species occurs along small streams, seepage areas, and on moist cliff faces.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Martof and Rose, 1963; Tilley, 1973). Desmognathus ocoee Nicholls, a species described from Ocoee Gorge, Polk County (Nicholls, 1949), is considered a local variant of D. ochrophaeus (Martof and Rose, 1963). As described in the account for D. imitator, in the Great Smoky Mountains, D. ochrophaeus and D. imitator are often similar in morphology and color pattern, and a biochemical analysis is often necessary to separate the two.


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Desmognathus quadramaculatus
Desmognathus quadramaculatus (Holbrook) - Blackbelly Salamander

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Description: This is the largest species of Desmognathus in Tennessee. Adults attain total lengths of 10.0 to 17.5 cm. A light line extends from eye to angle of jaw. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Tail is triangular in cross section and is strongly keeled. Internal nares are round and distinct. Dorsal color is usually dark brown or black, with lighter brown or rusty brown blotches. A double row of light spots normally occurs on the sides between front and hind limbs. Venter of adults is heavily pigmented, and may be completely black.

Distribution and Habitat: Desmognathus quadramaculatus is found along permanent, rocky woodland streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains and in the Bays Mountain area in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley. Inhabited streams usually have a moderate to steep gradient. The species has been reported above 1650 m in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Mathews and Echternacht, 1984). The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994a) lists the blackbelly salamander as in need of management.

Taxonomy: Valentine (1974) did not recognize subspecies, but he did note color pattern differences between northern and southern populations. Hinderstein (1971) noted these color differences and described biochemical differences. He found two variants; one from north and one from south of the French Broad River. He suggested these may represent two separate forms, but he did not assign taxonomic ranks.


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Desmognathus santeetlah
Desmognathus santeetlah Tilley - Santeetlah Dusky Salamander

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Description: This species is closely related to and resembles D. fuscus. Adults attain total lengths of 6.4 to 9.5 cm. A light line extends from just behind the eye to angle of jaw. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Tail is triangular in cross section and is moderately keeled. Jaw line of mature individuals is slightly sinuous. Dark friction pads on tips of toes are absent. Body form is smaller and more slender, with a shorter tail than D. fuscus. Dorsal coloration is usually duller and more indistinct than in D. fuscus. Dorsal ground color may be light brown or greenish brown. Typical dorsal color patterns include (1) dark markings coalescing to enclose light spots, (2) scattered dark markings forming worm-like blotches, and (3) indistinct, small dark flecks widely scattered over dorsum. Lateral surfaces and venter usually have scattered patches of melanophores and may have a yellowish tint. A row of light spots is usually present on lower sides between front and hind limbs. Morphological and color characteristics do not always allow separation of D. fuscus and D. santeetlah (Tilley, pers. comm.). As described by Tilley (1981), the most reliable method of distinguishing the two is by electrophoretic analysis of proteins.

Distribution and Habitat: As shown by Tilley (1981, 1988) and Jones (1982b), the distribution of D. santeetlah includes high elevation seepage areas in the Unicoi and Great Smoky Mountain ranges in eastern Tennessee. As discussed for D. fuscus, many previous reports from the Great Smoky Mountains of D. fuscus probably refer to D. santeetlah.

Taxonomy: Type locality is near crest of Unicoi Mountains in Monroe County, Tennessee (Tilley, 1981). Desmognathus santeetlah hybridizes with D. fuscus (see account for D. fuscus).


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Desmognathus welteri
Desmognathus welteri Barbour - Black Mountain Salamander

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Description: Desmognathus welteri is a large salamander similar in appearance to both D. fuscus and D. monticola. Adults attain total lengths of 7.5 to 12.5 cm. A light line usually extends from just behind the eye to angle of jaw. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Tail is triangular in cross section and is strongly keeled. Dark friction pads are present on tips of toes. Jaw teeth possess blunt crowns. Dorsal ground color ranges from light to dark brown. Dorsal dark markings usually consist of numerous dark flecks or small spots that seldom form a distinct pattern. Dark markings on sides may be concentrated to form wide, indistinct dorsolateral stripes. Dorsal ground color blends gradually with ventral color. Venter is usually mottled with dark melanophores. Old individuals may be melanistic.

Distribution and Habitat: Redmond (1980) determined the distribution of D. welteri to include the Cumberland Mountains and northern half of the Cumberland Plateau. The species typically occurs along small to medium-sized permanent streams in mesic upland hardwood forests. Strongly aquatic, its apparent absence on the southern Cumberland Plateau may be due to the seasonal nature of most small streams in that region. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994a) lists the species as in need of management.

Taxonomy: The species, originally described as a subspecies of D. fuscus (Barbour, 1950), was later elevated to species rank (Barbour 1971). Subsequent studies by Caldwell (1977, 1980), Caldwell and Trauth (1979), and Juterbock (1975, 1978, 1984) support Barbour's proposal. No subspecies have been described (Conant and Collins, 1991).


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Desmognathus wrighti
Desmognathus wrighti King - Pygmy Salamander

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Description: The pygmy salamander is a small salamander, similar in body size and form to D. aeneus. Adults may reach total lengths of 3.8 to 5.1 cm. A light line extends from just behind the eye to angle of jaw. Tail is rounded in cross section and lacks a keel. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Dorsal ground color ranges from light gray to rusty brown. Dorsal markings typically consist of narrow dark lines forming a herringbone pattern. Dark markings and scattered silver flecks on sides combine to form dorsolateral bands. Dorsal surface of head and snout is rugose. Venter is usually immaculate.

Distribution and Habitat: Desmognathus wrighti is restricted to high elevations in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Most authorities (Huheey, 1966; Huheey and Stupka, 1967; Tilley and Harrison, 1969; Mathews and Echternacht, 1984) have regarded this species as characteristic of spruce-fir forests, although populations are known from as low as 838 m (Huheey, 1966). Tilley and Harrison (1969) believe these lower elevation populations in hardwood forest habitats represent relicts from the past when spruce-fir habitats were more widespread in the southern Appalachians. The pygmy salamander is the most terrestrial of all desmognathine species, and may occur at great distances from streams and seepages. Adults are found under and within rotting logs, beneath rocks, and just beneath leaf litter. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994a) considers the species as in need of management.

Taxonomy: No subspecies have been reported (Conant and Collins, 1991). King (1936) described D. wrighti from Mt. LeConte, Sevier County, Tennessee.


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Eurycea cirrigera and Eurycea wilderae
Eurycea cirrigera (Green) - Southern Two-lined Salamander
Eurycea wilderae Dunn - Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamander

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Description: Both species of two-lined salamanders are slender. Adults reach total lengths of 6.4 to 10.7 cm. Ground color ranges from yellow through orange to, occasionally, light brown. A dark lateral stripe occurs on each side of the body and extends from eye to middle of tail or beyond, sometimes reaching tail tip. Small black or brown spots may occur on dorsum between lateral dark stripes.

Distribution and Habitat: Eurycea cirrigera and E. wilderae are usually difficult to distinguish using external characteristics (Jacobs, 1987). In Tennessee, Jacobs indicated the two species have allopatric distributions, with E. wilderae occurring in the Blue Ridge Mountains and E. cirrigera over the remainder of the state. Since specimens on which literature and museum records are based were not analyzed by us to determine specific status, the distribution map above should be regarded as representing a composite range for both species. The dashed line on the map delineates the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and, presumably, the approximate boundary between E. wilderae and E. cirrigera. Two-lined salamanders are common in moist-to-wet habitats along woodland streams throughout Tennessee. Populations are known from bottomland habitats in West Tennessee eastward to the forests and balds along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Taxonomy: Revising Mittleman (1966), Jacobs (1987) studied biochemical variation in the Eurycea bislineata group. He recommended elevating each subspecies, E. b. bislineata (Green), E. b. cirrigera (Green), and E. b. wilderae Dunn, to species status. According to Jacob's (1987) range map, only two species, E. cirrigera and E. wilderae, occur in Tennessee, where they are mutually allopatric. For the purposes of this Atlas, E. aquatica Rose and Bush is included in synonymy with E. cirrigera. Rose and Bush (1963) indicated E. aquatica might occur in Tennessee, and Ashton (1966) reported the species from Davidson County, Tennessee. In Alabama, Mount (1975) concluded E. aquatica was merely an ecotype of E. bislineata. Wallace (1975) reached the same conclusion for populations in Davidson County, Tennessee. Jacobs (1987) also questioned the taxonomic validity of E. aquatica. [For an update on the taxonomy of E. aquatica click here.]



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Eurycea cirrigera and Eurycea wilderae
Eurycea junaluska Sever, Dundee, and Sullivan - Junaluska Salamander

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Description:This recently described species is morphologically very similar to E. wilderae and E. cirrigera. Adults attain total lengths of 7.5 to 10.0 cm. In comparison with E. wilderae and E. cirrigera, E. junaluska has a relatively shorter tail and longer limbs. Dorsal coloration is usually a light yellow, with dorsolateral brown stripes absent or broken into narrow wavy lines. Scattered small dark spots or flecks may occur on dorsum.

Distribution and Habitat: Eurycea junaluska is known from medium to large streams in a small area of eastern Tennessee. Sever (1976) reported an individual from Fighting Creek in Sevier County; later he found the species along the Tellico River in Monroe County (Sever, 1983b). He collected individuals from beneath rocks along streams and from roads near streams during or just after rain. During the night of 12 September 1976, one of us (W. H. R.) found several individuals perched on boulders in the Little Tennessee River along the Blount-Monroe county line. This area has since been inundated to form Tellico Reservoir. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994a) lists this species as being in need of management.

Taxonomy: No subspecies have been reported (Sever, 1983a). Jacobs (1987) questioned the taxonomic status of E. junaluska.


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Eurycea longicauda
Eurycea longicauda (Green) - Longtail Salamander

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Description: Eurycea longicauda has a slender body and long tail. Adults range from 10.0 to 15.9 cm in total length. Dorsal ground color varies from light yellow to yellowish brown. In Tennessee, two distinct dorsal color patterns occur, representing two subspecies. One subspecies has a single mid-dorsal and two dorsolateral dark stripes. The mid-dorsal stripe originates near the eyes and extends to base of tail, whereas the dorsolateral stripes begin just behind the eyes and may extend to tip of tail. This form, commonly called the three-lined salamander, also possesses dark spots or a mottled pattern on the venter. The other form typically has numerous irregularly shaped dark spots on its back and sides, the markings on the sides sometimes forming indistinct dorsolateral stripes. Venter is usually immaculate. Sides of tail have vertical dark markings that form a distinctive herringbone pattern.

Distribution and Habitat: Eurycea longicauda occurs statewide, but may be absent from higher elevations in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Suitable habitats include streams banks and mesic slopes in woodlands, and the twilight zone of caves.

Taxonomy: Two subspecies are found in Tennessee (Ireland, 1979). Eurycea l. guttolineata (Holbrook), the three-lined salamander, occurs in the Coastal Plain of West Tennessee and has been found in a few scattered localities in the mountains of East Tennessee. Eurycea l. longicauda ranges from the Tennessee River in West Tennessee eastward throughout the state. Parker (1937, 1939) reported Eurycea l. longicauda from the Coastal Plain of West Tennessee in the hills east of Reelfoot Lake. Ireland (1979) comments that along the Blue Ridge escarpment these two subspecies appear to be reproductively isolated. Examination of over 650 specimens during this study revealed no evidence of interbreeding between these two forms in extreme East Tennessee. An examination of specimens from populations along both sides of the Tennessee River in West Tennessee (i.e., Stewart, Henry, Perry, Henderson, Hardin, and Lawrence counties) revealed color patterns suggesting some interbreeding. These intermediate specimens typically had a distinct mid-dorsal dark stripe, a characteristic of E. l. guttolineata, but had reduced amounts of dark pigmentation on the venter, a characteristic of E. l. longicauda. A few of these specimens had a mid-dorsal stripe that was broken and indistinct. Further studies are needed to quantify the extent of intergradation between these two subspecies in Tennessee and elsewhere (Collins, 1991a).


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Eurycea lucifuga
Eurycea lucifuga Rafinesque - Cave Salamander

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Description: Like E. longicauda, the cave salamander is slender and has a long tail. Total length in adults ranges from 10.0 to 15.2 cm. Dorsal ground color may be yellowish orange, orange, or reddish orange. Markings include numerous, irregular dark spots over the entire dorsal surface, including the tail. No herringbone pattern is present on sides of tail.

Distribution and Habitat: The range of E. lucifuga in Tennessee extends from the Tennessee River in the west to the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the east, where the species is known from only two cave localities. Eurycea lucifuga occurs in the twilight zone of caves and near cave entrances. It also inhabits mesic woodlands, especially near bluffs and limestone outcrops.

Taxonomy: Although no subspecies are recognized (Hutchison 1966), Grobman (1943) and Sinclair (1965) reported unusually large, dark, dusky specimens from several localities within and near the Nashville Basin of central Tennessee. Neither author proposed taxonomic recognition for these aberrant individuals. Merkle and Guttman (1977) studied genetic variation using electrophoretic techniques and found allelic differences between populations in the Nashville Basin and elsewhere, but did not recommend naming subspecies.


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Gyrinophilus palleucus
Gyrinophilus palleucus McCrady - Tennessee Cave Salamander

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Description: The Tennessee cave salamander is a pale troglobite. Adults range from 7.5 to 18.4 cm in total length. External gills normally persist throughout life. Eyes are small and poorly developed. Snout is flat and head broad. Dorsal ground color varies from pale pink to brown. Dark dorsal spots may occur, and a dark stripe may be present on throat. Occasional individuals undergo metamorphosis, losing their gills. In Tennessee, naturally metamorphosed individuals have been reported from Knox County (Simmons, 1976), Franklin County (Yeatman and Miller, 1985; Brandon et al., 1986), and Warren County (Miller, 1995).

Distribution and Habitat: In Tennessee, this troglobite is known from subterranean waters of the Tennessee River drainage in Knox, Roane, McMinn, Hamilton, Marion, Grundy, and Franklin counties, and from the Cumberland River drainage in Rutherford, Warren, and Wilson counties. The Wilson (Miller and Walther, 1994) and Warren (Miller, 1995) county records are recent discoveries. Little is known about the habitat requirements of this species. Caldwell and Copeland (1992) proposed that inflow (sinkhole) caves, as opposed to outflow caves, provide the best habitat. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994b) listed the species as threatened, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1994) listed it as a Category 2 candidate for federal listing. However, the most recent federal list of candidate species (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996) does not include the Tennessee cave salamander.

Taxonomy: Three subspecies have been reported for Tennessee. These include G. p. palleucus, G. p. necturoides Lazell and Brandon, and G. p. gulolineatus Brandon (Brandon, 1967a; Conant and Collins, 1991). Type locality for the species is Sinking Cove Cave in Franklin County, Tennessee. Using electrophoretic techniques, Addison Wynn and Jeremy Jacob (pers. comm.) studied biochemical variation and have found evidence of a new species in Tennessee and possible hybridization of G. palleucus and G. porphyriticus. Collins (1991b) proposed that G. p. gulolineatus be recognized as a separate species.


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Gyrinophilus porphyriticus
Gyrinophilus porphyriticus (Green) - Spring Salamander

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Description: The spring salamander is a large species, with total lengths of adults ranging from 12.1 to 19.0 cm. The canthus rostralis, a light line from each eye to nostril, may be indistinct or distinctly bordered with black pigment. Ground color is usually yellowish pink, red, reddish brown, or tan. Dorsal dark markings are extremely variable, ranging from virtually absent (a few small black spots or flecks) to heavily mottled with dark reticulations, sometimes forming chevron-shaped markings. Venter may be plain or have numerous melanophores.

Distribution and Habitat: The spring salamander occurs east of the Outer Central Basin in the eastern third of the state. It occurs along shaded, small to medium-sized streams. In areas of karst topography where permanent surface aquatic habitats are scarce, the species is known to occur in cave streams and pools.

Taxonomy: Four subspecies, with extensive zones of intergradation, are recognized. According to Brandon (1962, 1967b), populations in Tennessee from the Eastern Highland Rim to the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains are intergradient between G. p. porphyriticus and G. p. duryi Mittleman and Jopson. Populations in the Blue Ridge Mountains are designated as G. p. danielsi (Blatchley). Sinclair (1953, 1955) proposed the recognition of G. warneri as a new species from Middle Tennessee. His comments, available in abstracts of papers presented at meetings of the Tennessee Academy of Science, were never published as a formal description. Brandon (1962) studied specimens made available by Sinclair and concluded that they were not members of the genus Gyrinophilus, but were probably Pseudotriton montanus.


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Hemidactylium scutatum
Hemidactylium scutatum (Temminck and Schlegel) - Four-toed Salamander

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Description: The four-toed salamander is a small species, adults ranging from 5.1 to 9.0 cm in total length. Four toes are present on each hind foot. There is a distinct constriction at the base of the tail. Dorsal coloration varies from gray to rusty brown, with indistinct small dark markings. Lateral surfaces are often heavily mottled with black or dark brown markings. Venter is bright white, with numerous distinct scattered black spots.

Distribution and Habitat: The distribution of H. scutatum in Tennessee is poorly known. The range probably extends from the Western Highland Rim eastward to North Carolina. Habitats include woodland swamps, shallow ponds, and sphagnum bogs. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994a) lists the species as in need of management.

Taxonomy: As reported by Neill (1963b), no subspecies have been designated. The type locality is listed as Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.


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Leurognathus marmoratus
Leurognathus marmoratus Moore - Shovelnose Salamander

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Description: Leurognathus marmoratus, a permanently aquatic species, is often confused with D. quadramaculatus. Adults vary in total length from 9.0 to 12.5 cm. Although often obscure, a light line extends from eye to angle of jaw. Hind limbs are noticeably larger than forelimbs. Tail is laterally compressed and strongly keeled. Snout appears flatter than in D. quadramaculatus. Internal nares are slit-like and obscure. Dorsum is typically dark brown or black, with two rows of irregularly shaped light blotches. Venter is usually dark gray, and may possess a lighter center.

Distribution and Habitat: The shovelnose salamander is found in drainages of the Blue Ridge Mountains north of the Little Tennessee River. The species is typically found in small to medium-sized rocky woodland streams, with steep to moderate gradient. Mathews and Echternacht (1984) recorded L. marmoratus above 1650 m elevation, and Huheey and Stupka (1967) noted its apparent absence below 457 m.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Martof, 1963).


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Plethodon aureolus
Plethodon aureolus Highton - Tellico Salamander

Description: The recently described Tellico salamander, a large species very similar in its morphology to P. glutinosus and P. teyahalee (Highton, 1983), can be reliably distinguished from those two species only on the basis of biochemical characters. Adult P. aureolus, ranging from 10.0 to 15.1 cm in total length, are, on average, smaller than both P. glutinosus and P. teyahalee adults (Highton, 1983). Dorsal and lateral ground color is dark gray to black, with many large, brassy spots. Venter is dark gray to black, and chin is typically lighter in color than venter.

Distribution and Habitat: All locality data plotted were taken from Highton (1983), who defined the species' range to include the western slopes of the Unicoi Mountains and adjacent lowlands between the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee rivers. Typical habitat probably includes both upland and stream valley woodlands.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Highton, 1983, 1986a). According to Highton (1983), P. aureolus is sympatric with typical P. glutinosus on the western edge of the Unicoi Mountains and sympatric throughout its range with P. teyahalee (see account for P. teyahalee). Evidence exists of hybridization between P. aureolus and P. jordani (Highton,1983). Type locality is Farr Gap, Unicoi Mountains, Monroe County, Tennessee.


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Plethodon cinereus
Plethodon cinereus (Green) - Redback Salamander

Description: Plethodon cinereus is small, adults ranging in total length from 5.7 to 10.0 cm. It is similar to P. dorsalis and morphologically virtually indistinguishable from P. serratus. Dorsal coloration usually consists of a broad, straight-edged light red stripe extending from neck well onto tail, where it becomes conspicuously narrower. In individuals without the dorsal stripe, the dorsum is dark brown or black, with scattered light flecks and no red pigment. Venter is mottled with equal amounts of black and white, but typically lacks red markings. Costal groove counts range from 18 to 20.

Distribution and Habitat: As determined by Highton and Webster (1976), the range of P. cinereus in Tennessee includes the Blue Ridge Mountains north of the French Broad River. The redback salamander is found under logs, rocks, and leaf litter in upland forests. A Tennessee record of P. cinereus from outside the Blue Ridge Mountains was determined invalid by Grobman (1944), who provided substantial evidence that a specimen in the U.S. National Museum (USNM No. 57106), listed from Franklin County, Tennessee, was actually taken in Franklin County, Missouri.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Highton and Webster, 1976). Prior to Highton's and Webster's study, all populations of redback salamanders in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee were considered part of the same species, P. cinereus (Smith, 1963). In their study, they used biochemical differences to recognize part of the P. cinereus complex (including populations in the southern half of Tennessee's Blue Ridge Mountains) as a new species, P. serratus.


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Plethodon dorsalis
Plethodon dorsalis Cope - Zigzag Salamander

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Description: Total lengths of adults of this salamander range from 6.4 to 9.0 cm. Many individuals have a dorsal light red, brown, or yellowish stripe, with lobed or wavy margins, extending from neck well onto the tail. Stripe may appear to widen at base of tail. Other individuals have a uniformly dark brown or black dorsum. In the Central Basin of Middle Tennessee, a red shoulder patch is present in most individuals (Brian Miller, per. com.). Ventral surfaces are light, with profuse black or black and reddish mottling. Costal groove count is usually 18.

Distribution and Habitat: The species appears to be absent from elevations above 762 m in the Blue Ridge Mountains (King, 1939) and from most of the Coastal Plain of West Tennessee, where it is known from only two localities. Parker (1939) described one of the West Tennessee sites (in Obion County) as wooded hills east of Walnut Log and Reelfoot Lake, where he found specimens in leaf mats and near springs. Thurow (1966) characterized the same area as bluffs composed of consolidated loess that provided rock shelter habitats. Habitat data for the other Coastal Plain record (a Henry County locality) are lacking. Two specimens were taken from the Obion River area, Highway 69, north of Jones Mill (NLU Nos. 45756-45757). Elsewhere in Tennessee the species is usually found beneath leaf litter, rocks, and logs in mesic upland forests. The status of P. dorsalis in the Cumberland Mountains is poorly known and needs further study.

Taxonomy: According to Thurow (1966) and Conant and Collins (1991), only the nominate subspecies occurs in Tennessee.


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Plethodon glutinosus, Plethodon cylindraceus, and 

Plethodon mississippi
Plethodon glutinosus (Green) - Northern Slimy Salamander,
Plethodon cylindraceus (Harlan) - White-spotted Slimy Salamander,
Plethodon mississippi Highton - Mississippi Slimy Salamander

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Description: Like P. aureolus, P. kentucki, and P. teyahalee (treated elsewhere in separate accounts), these three species are also considered members of the P. glutinosus complex as defined by Highton et al. (1989). The three species treated in this account are large plethodontids, with adult total lengths ranging from 12.1 to 17.2 cm. The following descriptions are from Highton et al. (1989). Of the three, P. mississippi tends to be the smallest. Dorsal and lateral ground color is usually brown or black. Plethodon glutinosus and P. mississippi normally possesses large brassy colored dorsal spots, while P. cylindraceus has large white spots on the dorsum. Plethodon cylindraceus has abundant lateral white spots while P. glutinosus and P. mississippi may have both white and yellow lateral spotting. Plethodon cylindraceus is light chinned. Conant and Collins (1991) state that geography is an important criterion in identification of individuals of this species complex.

Distribution and Habitat: As depicted by Highton et al. (1989) and Conant and Collins (1991), the distributions of P. glutinosus, P. cylindraceus, and P. mississippi appear to be allopatric or with very narrow zones of sympatry. The literature and museum data presented on the map above are not based on biochemical analysis, and therefore could not be accurately assigned to any one species. The map should be viewed as a composite range map for all three species. The dark boundary lines approximate the boundaries of species' ranges, with P. mississippi in the Coastal Plain of West Tennessee, P. glutinosusin most of the eastern two-thirds of the state, and P. cylindraceus in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Ridge and Valley in northeastern Tennessee (Highton et al., 1989; Conant and Collins, 1991). Slimy salamanders exploit a wide variety of woodland habitats ranging from mesic bottomland hardwood to relatively dry hillside forests.

Taxonomy: No subspecific designations are recognized for any of these species. All three species, having been defined by biochemical characteristics, are similar in appearance and difficult to distinguish using traditional external taxonomic characteristics (Highton et al., 1989; Conant and Collins, 1991).


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Plethodon jordani
Plethodon jordani Blatchley - Jordan's Salamander

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Description: Jordan's salamander is a large plethodontid. Adult total lengths range from 9.0 to 12.5 cm. In most adults dorsal ground color is dark gray or black, with no white or brassy markings. However, individuals from the Unicoi Mountains in southeastern Tennessee typically have lateral white spots and flecks. Populations from the Great Smoky Mountains usually possess red cheek patches, whereas other Tennessee populations have cheeks essentially the same color as the dorsum. Venter is usually lighter than dorsum, and chin is usually lighter than rest of venter.

Distribution and Habitat: The Tennessee range of P. jordani includes high elevation habitats in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. It occurs in moist woodlands from mountain summits down to 762 m elevation (Huheey and Stupka, 1967). Highton (1983) noted that what appeared to be P. jordani from several localities north of Jones Knob in the Unicoi Mountains in Monroe County was actually P. aureolus, and that Johns Knob was the northernmost locality for P. jordani in the Unicoi Mountains.

Taxonomy: Two races were formerly recognized from Tennessee. These were the uniformly black metcalfi race, and the red-cheeked jordani race (Conant, 1958). Highton (1962, 1973) studied variation in these forms and concluded that subspecific recognition was unwarranted. Highton and Henry (1970) reported some evidence of hybridization between P. jordani and P. glutinosus in the Great Smoky Mountains, but found substantial indications of hybridization with P. glutinosus in the Unicoi Mountains. Highton (1983) later described P. aureolus and P. teyahalee, two biochemically defined cryptic species of P. glutinosus, from the Unicoi Mountains of Tennessee and adjacent western North Carolina, and presented evidence of hybridization of both with P. jordani. Highton (1971) found no indication of hybridization of P. glutinosus and P. jordani east of the French Broad River. The type locality of P. jordani is near the divide along the Tennessee-North Carolina border in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


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Plethodon kentucki
Plethodon kentucki Mittleman - Cumberland Plateau Woodland Salamander

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Description: Plethodon kentucki is a large plethodontid that is very similar to P. glutinosus. Though in areas of sympatry biochemical characteristics may be the only reliable basis for separating the two (Highton, 1986b), the following contrasting features may help distinguish the species. Adult P. kentucki, with total lengths ranging from 9.8 to 16.8 cm, are typically smaller than P. glutinosus. Dorsal and lateral color is black, with scattered white spots that are smaller and less numerous than those of P. glutinosus. Light spots on P. kentucki are not as brassy as those on P. glutinosus. Adult male P. kentucki have larger mental glands than adult males of P. glutinosus. Finally, the chin of P. kentucki is noticeably lighter than the very dark venter (a condition not usually true for P. glutinosus).

Distribution and Habitat: John MacGregor (pers. comm.) collected the only specimen known from Tennessee, and described its habitat as a shale outcrop bordering a gravel road. MacGregor suggests the species probably occurs elsewhere in the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee. In Kentucky P. kentucki and P. glutinosus are often sympatric (MacGregor, pers. comm.). Optimum habitat for P. kentucki is mature hardwood forests on steep slopes underlain by sandstone or shale (MacGregor, pers. comm.).

Taxonomy: Plethodon kentucki was originally described by Mittleman (1951) from eastern Kentucky. Clay et al. (1955) reduced P. kentucki to synonymy with P. glutinosus. After an analysis of both morphological and biochemical characteristics, Highton and MacGregor (1983) restored P. kentucki to species rank. No subspecies are recognized (Highton, 1986b).


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Plethodon richmondi
Plethodon richmondi Netting and Mittleman - Ravine Salamander

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Description: The ravine salamander is a small, worm-like plethodontid, with relatively short limbs. Adults attain total lengths of 7.5 to 11.5 cm. Dorsal and lateral surfaces are dark brown or black, with scattered silver, white, or brassy flecks. Plethodon richmondi differs from other small plethodontids in possessing a predominately dark brown or black venter. Costal groove counts range from 19 to 22.

Distribution and Habitat: Plethodon richmondi is known from northern portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian Ridge and Valley, and Cumberland Mountains. Typical habitat is mesic upland forests where individuals are usually found under rocks, logs, and leaf litter.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Conant and Collins, 1991). Thurow (1969) reported evidence of hybridization with P. cinereus on Iron and Houston mountains in northeastern Tennessee.


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Plethodon serratus
Plethodon serratus Grobman - Southern Redback Salamander

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Description: Plethodon serratus is a small plethodontid nearly identical morphologically to P. cinereus. Total length of adults ranges from 8.1 to 10.5 cm. Dorsal color pattern includes a straight-edged light red stripe that extends from neck well onto the tail, where it becomes conspicuously narrower. Rare individuals lack the dorsal stripe and are dark brown or black above, with scattered light flecks. Venter is mottled with equal amounts of black and white and usually has some red pigment. Costal groove counts range from 18 to 20.

Distribution and Habitat: Highton and Webster (1976) indicated that in Tennessee P. serratus occurs in the Blue Ridge Mountains south of the French Broad River. Like P. cinereus, P. serratus is found in terrestrial habits in upland forests.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Highton and Webster, 1976; Highton, 1986c). Highton and Webster (1976) elevated this form to species status based on biochemical characteristics (see account for P. cinereus).


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Plethodon teyahalee
Plethodon teyahalee Hairston - Southern Appalachian Slimy Salamander

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Description: The southern Appalachian slimy salamander is a large plethodontid that attains total lengths of 12.1 to 17.2 cm. Based on external characteristics, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish from its sympatric congeners, P. aureolus and P. glutinosus (Highton et al., 1989). The usually black dorsal ground color is punctuated with scattered small white spots. White spots on lateral surfaces are typically larger than those on dorsum. Small red spots may occur on legs. Chin is lighter than the normally gray venter. Conant and Collins (1991) note that geography is a critical criterion in field identification of individuals of the P. glutinosus complex.

Distribution and Habitat: Because of the difficulty of distinguishing specimens of P. teyahalee, P. glutinosus, and P. aureolus, locality data shown on the above map are exclusively from Highton (1983, 1987a). In Tennessee, P. teyahalee is known from mesic woodland habitats in the Unicoi Mountains in Monroe and Polk counties, and from the Great Smoky Mountains in Sevier and Cocke counties.

Taxonomy: Highton (1973) considered P. jordani teyahalee Hairston synonymous with P. glutinosus. Based on biochemical data, he subsequently determined that the teyahalee morph represented a separate species (Highton, 1983) provided numerous localities for P. teyahalee in the Unicoi Mountains in Monroe and Polk counties, and later (Highton, 1987a) provided a detailed account and range map for the species. Hairston (1993) pointed out that the name P. teyahalee was invalid due to the hybrid nature of the population where the type specimen was taken. He proposed a new name P. oconaluftee and designated a new type. Hybridization with P. jordani was reported by Highton (1983).


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Plethodon wehrlei
Plethodon wehrlei Fowler and Dunn - Wehrle's Salamander

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Description: Only two specimens (UTKVZC 06250 and 06985), one adult and one juvenile, are currently available from Tennessee (Redmond and Jones, 1985). The adult has a total length of 9.1 cm and a snout-vent length of 4.8 cm. The juvenile is 5.7 cm long overall, with a snout-vent length of 3.1 cm. Distinct webbing is present between all toes of both. When alive, the venter was gray and the dorsum was dark brown, with 8 to 10 irregularly shaped yellow spots.

Distribution and Habitat: The two Tennessee specimens of Wehrle's salamander were found at the same locality, a gorge in a mesic hardwood forest in the Cumberland Mountains. The adult was found in a crevice in a rock shelter on a shaded sandstone cliff face, and the juvenile from a path approximately 20 m from where the adult was taken. Both specimens were collected on warm, misty nights. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994a) lists this species as in need of management.

Taxonomy: According to Highton (1987b), no subspecies are recognized. Throughout the range of P. wehrlei, the yellow-spotted morph is rare and has been reported from only three localities (Cupp and Towles, 1983; Redmond and Jones, 1985). Richard Highton (pers. comm.) does not believe these populations deserve formal taxonomic recognition.


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Plethodon welleri
Plethodon welleri Walker - Weller's Salamander

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Description: Weller's salamander is a small plethodontid, with adults ranging from 6.4 to 7.9 cm in total length. The dorsum is black, washed with gold or brassy, irregular blotches. Venter is usually black, with numerous small white flecks or spots.

Distribution and Habitat: Plethodon welleri is restricted to the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeastern Tennessee. Populations are usually found above 762 m elevation on forested mountain summits, mesic woodland talus slopes, and in cove hardwood forests. Thurow (1963) reported a population at 700 to 732 m in a limestone cove forest dominated by hemlock and yellow birch. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (1994a) lists Weller's salamander as in need of management.

Taxonomy: Thurow (1964) lists one subspecies, P. w. ventromaculatus Thurow, from Tennessee. Conant and Collins (1991) do not recognize subspecies.


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Plethodon yonahlossee
Plethodon yonahlossee Dunn - Yonahlossee Salamander

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Description: Plethodon yonahlossee is a large plethodontid whose adult total length ranges from 11.5 to 18.0 cm. A wide, irregularly bordered dorsal red stripe extends from near the head onto the tail. This stripe may be partially or completely interrupted by black spots or blotches. Lateral surfaces are heavily marked with white or light gray. Venter is dark gray, usually with numerous scattered light spots. Throat is lighter.

Distribution and Habitat: In Tennessee, the range of P. yonahlossee is strikingly coincident with that of P. welleri. Both are found only in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the state's northeastern border. Yonahlossee salamanders occur in mature woodlands at elevations ranging from 732 to 1433 m.

Taxonomy: No subspecies are recognized (Pope, 1965; Conant and Collins, 1991).


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Pseudotriton montanus
Pseudotriton montanus Baird - Mud Salamander

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Description: The mud salamander is large, with a more slender body than its Tennessee congener, the red salamander (P. ruber). Adults attain total lengths of 7.5 to 16.5 cm. Dorsal and ventral ground color may be coral-pink, red, or reddish brown. A few well defined, rounded black spots are usually present on dorsum. Venter is usually immaculate.

Distribution and Habitat: Excluding the high elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the range of P. montanus includes the eastern half of Tennessee. Highest reported locality in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 477 m, and several localities in the Cumberland Mountains and Cumberland Plateau are above 550 m. The mud salamander inhabits mud and silt-laden areas of floodplain woodland streams, swamps, and seepage areas. Miller (1990) reported the species from an intermittent stream in a cedar glade in Wilson County.

Taxonomy: Martof (1975a) followed the recommendation of Bruce (1968) and did not recognize subspecies. Conant and Collins (1991) disagreed and recognized four subspecies, one of which, P. m. diastictus Bishop, they show occurring in Tennessee. Collins (1991a, 1991b) suggested that P. m. diastictus is a distinct species.


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Pseudotriton ruber
Pseudotriton ruber (Sonnini) - Red Salamander

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Description: The red salamander is a large, stout-bodied species that reaches adult total lengths of 7.0 to 15.2 cm. It is similar to P. montanus, but has a stockier body and smaller head. Dorsal and ventral ground colors range from bright red to a dull purplish brown. Dorsal markings typically consist of many small, irregularly shaped dark spots that may be fused in older individuals. Ventral surface of chin may be lightly flecked or heavily pigmented with black. Venter may be immaculate or spotted with dark markings.

Distribution and Habitat: Pseudotriton ruber is found throughout Tennessee east of the Loess Plain of West Tennessee. Available data indicate the species may be rare in the Inner and Outer Central basins. It has been reported from above 1524 m in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Huheey and Stupka, 1967). Red salamanders occur near many woodland aquatic habitats including creeks, springs and spring runs, and seepage areas. It may occasionally be found in mesic to relatively dry woodlands.

Taxonomy: Disagreement exists regarding the existence of valid subspecies. Martof (1975b) cites Bruce (1968) and did not recognize subspecific designations, but Conant and Collins (1991) list four subspecies, all of which occur in Tennessee. Pseudotriton r. vioscai Bishop occurs in the eastern two-thirds of the Coastal Plain in West Tennessee, P. r. ruber from the Tennessee River in West Tennessee to the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, P. r. nitidus Dunn in the northern half of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and P. r. schencki (Brimley) in the southern half of the Blue Ridge Mountains.


FROGS Literature Cited


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