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Weller's salamander

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Weller's salamander (Plethodon welleri) is a species of salamander in the family Plethodontidae. This species in endemic to the southeastern mountain range of the United States. It is mainly found in North Carolina near Grandfather Mountain. These salamanders have a unique metallic spotting which distinguishes them from other Plethodon species and other salamanders in the area. They mainly inhabit cool forests with rocky areas. This species is currently threatened by population fragmentation and habitat degradation/loss.

Description with Diet

Weller's salamander has 16 coastal grooves with light dorsal markings.[1] The markings are usually dark gold in color with a metallic look.[1][2] These are smaller salamanders, like most plethodontids, and have a slender body.[2] They have 17 trunk vertebrae, which makes them the shortest of the eastern small plethodontids, and two to seven vomerin teeth that are located in series. These salamanders also have webbed toes.[3] Males and females have differing visible genitalia that can be used to tell them apart. Females have a simple slit, while males have a cloacal gland and papillae in the vent.[1] Like other plethodontids, Weller's salamander produces a noxious skin secretion when threatened and sometimes goes immobile when picked up to trick a predator that the individual is already dead.[4]

These salamanders are insectivores that feed on insects including pseudoscorpions, orb-weaver spiders, ticks and mites, springtails, true bugs, butterflies and moths, flies, and beetles.[4]

Habitat

This species of plethodon salamander is a high-altitude species found in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains.[5] Their range is the area around northwest North Carolina and includes the parts of Tennessee and Virginia into which the mountains extend. However, these salamanders are restricted to a few counties in the mentioned states.[5] These counties include Johnson and Unicori Counties in Tennessee and Yancey County in North Carolina. The mountains these salamanders inhabit include Mt. Rodgers and the Whitetop Mountains in southwest Virginia, as well as the Unaka Mountain ridges in northeastern Tennessee and eastern North Carolina.[4] These plethodons are found mainly in the highland areas around this mountain ridge.[6] They inhabit spruce[2] and birch forests that are heavily shaded.[7] Some individuals were found in upper-level hardwood forests.[2][7] The salamanders prefer habitats with cooler temperatures.[7] These salamanders tend to be found under logs, stones, and flat rocks in their preferred habitats.[4]

Reproduction

Weller's salamanders breed during the spring and fall. Courtship behaviors have been observed in captivity in October and April. The females are reproductively mature at 35 mm in length and tend to be older than 3 years when they become mature. The males can breed around 30 mm long at about 2-3 years old. The females lay eggs in clutches of four to 11 eggs in tight clusters suspended by a stalk. These nests are found under moss mats that cover conifer logs. These eggs are seen between mid-August to September and are between 2.6 and 6.5 mm in diameter. The offspring show direct development with little to no evidence of gills being visible once the egg has hatched. Some evidence indicates the females brood or guard the eggs. The females found at these nests were undernourished, which indicates they do not feed during their time guarding the eggs.[4] The eggs laid by the females are dark in color due to being pigmented with melanophores.[3]

Conservation

The larger populations of these salamanders appear to be stable. These are the locations found on Grandfather Mountain and Rodgers Mountain. The populations in North Carolina and Virginia, however, are believed to be declining.[8] The current populations are isolated from each other, causing fragmentation to become a threat to these populations.[9] The high altitude of the habitat helps protect the populations to some degree.[10] Much of the salamander's range on Mount Rodgers is a national recreation area, and most of the land within the park is protected.[9] The area around Grandfather Mountain is privately owned, but seems to be under stable protection.[11] The populations of these salamanders are very isolated and the small number of individuals in each population makes those populations susceptible to extinction due to catastrophic events such as fires or more habitat degradation.[11]

The major threat to this species is habitat degradation and loss, mainly due to development and logging practices.[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Thurow, Gordon R. (April 1956). "A New Subspecies of Plethodon welleri, with Notes on Other Members of the Genus". American Midland Naturalist. 55 (2): 343–356. doi:10.2307/2422596. JSTOR 2422596.
  2. ^ a b c d Walker, Charles F. (31 December 1934). "Plethodon welleri at White Top Mountain, Virginia". Copeia. 1934 (4): 190. doi:10.2307/1435869. JSTOR 1435869.
  3. ^ a b Highton, Richard; Larson, Allan (1 December 1979). "The Genetic Relationships of the Salamanders of the Genus Plethodon". Systematic Biology. 28 (4): 579–599. doi:10.2307/sysbio/28.4.579.
  4. ^ a b c d e Lannoo, Michael (2005). Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species (1st ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-23592-2. JSTOR 10.1525/j.ctt1pp5xd.
  5. ^ a b Larson, Aallan; Highton, Richard (1 December 1978). "Geographic Protein Variation and Divergence in the Salamanders of the Plethodon Weller Group (Amphibia, Plethodontidae)". Systematic Biology. 27 (4): 431–448. doi:10.1093/sysbio/27.4.431.
  6. ^ Highton, Richard; Hastings, Amy Picard; Palmer, Catherine; Watts, Richard; Hass, Carla A.; Culver, Melanie; Arnold, Stevan J. (1 May 2012). "Concurrent speciation in the eastern woodland salamanders (Genus Plethodon): DNA sequences of the complete albumin nuclear and partial mitochondrial 12s genes". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 63 (2): 278–290. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.12.018. PMID 22230029.
  7. ^ a b c Snyder, Richard C. (1946). "Plethodon welleri from Flat Top Mountain, North Carolina". Copeia. 1946 (3): 174. doi:10.2307/1438749. JSTOR 1438749.
  8. ^ "Plethodon welleri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2018-04-30.old-form url
  9. ^ a b Pague, C.A. (1991). "Amphibians and reptiles". In Terwilliger, K. (ed.). Virginia's Endangered Species: Proceedings of a Symposium. Blacksburg, Virginia: McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company. pp. 411–476.
  10. ^ Petranka, J.W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
  11. ^ a b c Braswell, A.L. 1989. Scientific council report on the conservation status of North Carolina amphibians and reptiles. Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina.
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Weller's salamander: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

Weller's salamander (Plethodon welleri) is a species of salamander in the family Plethodontidae. This species in endemic to the southeastern mountain range of the United States. It is mainly found in North Carolina near Grandfather Mountain. These salamanders have a unique metallic spotting which distinguishes them from other Plethodon species and other salamanders in the area. They mainly inhabit cool forests with rocky areas. This species is currently threatened by population fragmentation and habitat degradation/loss.

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