Spectacular salamanders of the U.S. and other things

The peaks of otter salamander (Plethodon hubrichti) is endemic to a small range in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The peaks of otter salamander (Plethodon hubrichti) is endemic to a small area in the Blue Ridge Mountains

This month I have added several species of salamanders to my life list. Many of these salamanders are endemic to relatively small mountain areas and are pretty special in coloration. Although locally common, I had not yet seen the Peaks of Otter salamander (Plethodon hubrichti) until earlier this month we finally ventured over to an area we knew was likely to contain them. The Peaks of Otter salamander looks similar to a redback salamander, only with a back flecked with gold-green. While on the same trail I had seen the Peaks of Otter salamander on, I happened to come across another fabulous salamander species that I had not seen yet, although this one was not an endemic – the spring salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus). These relatively large and robust salamanders can often be found in cool water springs and streams.

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Spring salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)

Continuing my search for new species, I ventured to Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina in search of the Yonahlossee Salamander (Plethodon yonahlossee), another species with a relatively small range. Although I saw this species in North Carolina, they are also believed to occur in southwest Virginia. The Yonahlossee salamander is another large terrestrial salamander species with a beautiful reddish-brown stripe running along the middle of the back.

The colorful Yonahlossee salamander (Plethodon yonahlossee)

The colorful Yonahlossee salamander (Plethodon yonahlossee)

The Southeastern United States is a hotspot for fabulous salamander species such as these. One major reason for this is all of the mountain ranges that isolated salamander populations so that they became new species, such as the Peaks of Otter salamander. If you’re looking for lungless salamanders in particular, this is the country to be in.

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A cope’s gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) calling from the rim of a highly eutrophic pool of water.

But of course, this blog would not be “Frog vs Fungus” without frogs. While in North Carolina, I also tracked down a group of Cope’s gray treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis) that I heard calling. To my surprise, they were calling from what appeared to be a sewage pond. I am not sure if any tadpoles would survive in that disgusting pool of water, but I was amazed once again at the apparent resilience and adaptation of amphibians to changes in their environment.

 

Lastly, this is a little late in coming, but here is a link to a radio interview with Reid Harris & Candace Hansen on the Amphibian Survival Alliance. The radio show is called “Herpin’ Time”. Enjoy!

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