Southern two-lined salamanders have a Nearctic distribution. They are found in the eastern and southeastern United States. Southern two-lined salamanders occur from central Indiana and Ohio east to coastal Virginia and south through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia to north Florida and coastal Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, west to the Mississippi River. They are replaced in the Smoky Mountains by Eurycea wilderae and in the northeastern United States and southern Canada by Eurycea bislineata, with which it was recently considered conspecific (Jacobs 1987). Some authorities consider these three forms as subspecies of Eurycea bislineata.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )
endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Illinois, Indiana, southern Ohio, western West Virginia, and central Virginia south to northern Florida, southern Alabama, southern Mississippi, and southeastern Louisiana (Jacobs 1987, Conant and Collins 1991, Sever 1999). An old record for Michigan needs verification (Sever 1999).
Southern two-lined salamanders are small salamanders, reaching only about 6 to 12 cm total length as adults. Similar to northern two-lined salamanders, however Eurycea cirrigera has 14 costal grooves rather than 15 or 16. The body is yellow orange to rusted color and there are two dark-brown stripes running the length of its body, breaking off into a speckled pattern towards the tail. The back and often the sides are speckled with similar colored dark-brown spots. The tail is fairly long, comprising nearly 50% of its total length.
The name Eurycea cirrigera is derived from the two cirri that grow on males during breeding season. Cirri are small, antennae-like lobes hanging from the salamander's snout. It is thought these cirri are connected with the nasolabial grooves and vomeronasal organ and sensing system and are presumably important for recognizing females and competing males.
Range length: 6.5 to 12 cm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes shaped differently; ornamentation
Southern two-lined salamanders can be found in moist environments, such as creek or river swamps, seepages, and hardwood forests, often hiding underneath leaf litter, vegetation, or logs, and in aquatic habitats where fish are absent or rare. During wet weather, Eurycea cirrigera will often emerge from hiding and move about on the surface in moist woodlands. Southern two-lined salamanders are most abundant in mountainous regions.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial ; freshwater
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; mountains
Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams
Wetlands: marsh ; swamp
Other Habitat Features: riparian
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Rocky brooks, springs, seepages, river swamps (e.g., tupelo-cypress), forested floodplains with stagnant pools; may disperse into wooded terrestrial habitats in wet warm weather. Adults hide under objects in or near flowing water. Often found crossing roads in rainy weather during breeding season. Eggs are laid on/under submerged rocks, logs, or aquatic plants, usually in flowing water, locally in ponds.
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Southern two-lined salamanders are opportunistic predators, eating whatever small organisms they encounter, both as aquatic adults and terrestrial adults. This includes crustaceans, mollusks, copepods, and insects. Though their larvae are known to eat other species of salamander larvae, it was recently found that their larval diet primarily consists of chironomids, or midges, which are available year round, in both good and poor water conditions. Petranka (1998) listed the diet of adults as including roaches, spiders, ticks, earthworms, isopods, millipedes, beetles, snails, springtails, flies, and hymenopterans.
Animal Foods: amphibians; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks; terrestrial worms
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Molluscivore , Vermivore)
Comments: Feeds opportunistically on various small invertebrates, many of which are of terrestrial origin.
Small plethodontid salamanders have been shown to play a significant part in cycling nutrients between the forest leaf litter community and larger vertebrates, as they can build up large populations and and represent large portions of biomass. Research done on northern two-lined salamanders is undoubtedly relevant to southern two-lined salamanders as well (Burton and Lichens 1975).
Ecosystem Impact: keystone species
Predators of southern two-lined salamanders include birds, such as thrushes and screech owls, fish (rainbow trout and brook trout), garter and ring-necked snakes, crayfish (in larval stages), and other salamanders (Pauley and Watson 2009). In the presence of black-bellied salamanders (Desmognathus quadramaculatus), southern two-lined salamanders were found to migrate further from stream to drier sites, indicating that this larger species could be a recognized predator (Grover 2000). Eurycea larvae restrict their movements and remain hidden more in the presence of larger larvae in the genus Gyrinophilus. When they are in the presence of garter snakes, adult salamanders are known to use a protean flipping escape, followed by running away (Ducey and Brodie 1983). They will readily autotomize (drop) their tails when attacked by snakes and other predators.
- thrushes (Turdidae)
- eastern screech owls (Otus asio)
- rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
- brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)
- spring salamanders (Gyrinophilus)
- black-bellied salamanders (Desmognathus quadramaculatus)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but likely exceeds 100,000.
Life History and Behavior
Communication during courtship and territorial encounters is largely tactile and through detection of chemicals (pheromones). Visual signals in the form of posturing are also used.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical
Comments: Sometimes active during day in shaded wet areas. Apparently active throughout year.
Eggs take about 4 to 10 weeks to hatch, depending on water temperature. Emergence of larvae can be as early as January in the south to May or June farther north. Upon emergence from the egg clutch, larval Eurycea cirrigera are completely aquatic. They are "stream-type" larvae and have reddish colored external gills, are mostly "dusky" gray above, with six to nine pairs of light spots on the sides, and have a large tail fin. Primary food for larvae is taken at the same trophic level as the adults, consisting of copepods, isopods, and chironomids (Pauley and Watson 2009). When larvae are beginning to undergo metamorphosis into the adult form, the characteristic yellowish belly begins to form and the tail fin and gills begin to recede. True adulthood is determined by length rather than age. Generally it takes between 1 and 3 years for Eurycea cirrigera to develop all the key features of an adult; shorter maturation periods occur in the southern part of the range (Jakubanis, Dreslik, and Phillips 2008).
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
Little is known about the maximum or potential lifespan of this salamander in the wild. Related species in this genus are known to have lived over 9 years in captivity.
Depending on local conditions, mating can occur from September through May. Mating can occur in water or on land. Courtship involves nudging and "sniffing" behaviors by the male, and he may use his premaxillary teeth to scratch the female's skin, probably to introduce pheromone secretions from his mental gland (on the chin) into the female's bloodstream. This is eventually followed by the female straddling the male's tail as they walk forward. Fertilization involves the male depositing a spermatophore, which the female picks up with her cloaca; thus fertilization is internal.
Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Males grow 2 cirri below their snout during mating season, it is expected that this is to sense both mates and competition (Distler et al., 1998) Eggs are deposited from the end of March until May, depending on location. Females generally lay their eggs under rocks, logs, or other shelter, always underwater in a stream or river. Eggs are never laid on terrestrial areas. They generally number from 15 to nearly 100 per nest (Pauley and Watson, 2009; Petranka, 1998). Females guard their nests until the eggs hatch.
Breeding interval: Southern two-lined salamanders breed once yearly.
Breeding season: Eggs are deposited from the end of March until May, depending on location.
Range number of offspring: 10 to 96.
Range time to hatching: 2 to 10 weeks.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
Females must develop and yolk eggs, expend energy during courtship, and then stay with the eggs until hatching. Males expend much energy during courtship and in defending terrestrial territories.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
Eggs laid in winter (in south) or spring (north). Female remains with eggs until hatching. Larvae period at least 1 year (probably 2-3 years).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Eurycea cirrigera
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
This species remains relatively common in undisturbed habitats. As with all salamanders, populations may decline or be locally extirpated due to intensive timber harvest, other land use changes, stream pollution and siltation, or changes in soil chemistry due to "acid rain." These salamanders often disappear from urbanized or suburbanized landscapes.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range in southeastern United States; high abundance; many secure populations throughout the range; no major pervasive threats.
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)
Comments: No data but likely stable in extent of occurrence and probably stable to slightly declining in population size, area of occupancy, and number/condition of occurrences.
Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%
Comments: Likely stable in extent of occurrence, probably less than 25% decline in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.
Degree of Threat: Medium
Comments: Like many salamanders, this species is sensitive to intensive timbering, land clearing, and stream pollution and siltation, and it is often absent from urban areas and highly disturbed landscapes (Petranka 1998), but overall the species is unthreatened.
Abundance reflects levels of habitat disturbance, including areas outside riparian buffer zones. For example, in North Carolina, abundance was inversely proportional to the percentage of disturbed habitat in the entire headwater watershed but less affected by the percentage of disturbed habitat present within buffer zones (Willson and Dorcas 2003).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are no known adverse effects of Eurycea cirrigera on humans.
Because of their small size, southern two-lined salamanders are often used as bait for recreational fishing. Their importance in the forest leaf litter and adjacent aquatic communities may be unappreciated by most humans, but they undoubtedly contribute to healthy forest ecosystems.
Positive Impacts: research and education
Southern two-lined salamander
The southern two-lined salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) is a species of salamander in the Plethodontidae family, endemic to the United States. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, rivers, intermittent rivers, swamps, and freshwater springs.
The Southern two-line salamander is a small thin salamander, distinguished by the two lines running down the lateral portion of its body. The salamander is deep-light brown and fairly small, growing up to 6.5-12 cm in length. The key difference between the Southern two lined salamander from the Northern salamander is that the black lines run all the way down to the tail. When the salamander reaches sexual maturity males begin to show Cirri and enlarged jaw muscles.
The Southern two-line salamander had two morphs, one of these, the Brownback salamander is now its own species. The other morphs, the Cole Springs Phenotype is found in other two lined salamanders but in the Southern two-lined salamander is limited to northern Alabama. This morphs results in an individual being significantly larger and darker colored than the normal salamander.
It has been noted by researchers that as the watersheds are being urbanized the capacity of streams to be habitable for Southern two-lined salamanders decreases. Although this species is not in a concerned status for conservation, it has been recommended that unbreached buffers be created in streams to preserve the habitat for this species.
- Nelson, N. "Eurycea facts." Caudta Cultur. N.p., Dec. 2003. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <http://www.caudata.org/cc/species/Eurycea/Eurycea_sp.shtml>.
- Rogers, Emily. "Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea Cirrigera)." Savanah River Ecology Laboratory. Ed. J. D. Wilson. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. http://srelherp.uga.edu/salamanders/eurcir.htm
- Miller, Jennifer E., George R. Hess, and Christopher E. Moorman. "Southern Two-lined Salamanders in Urbanizing Watersheds." Urban Ecosystems 10.1 (2007): 73-85. Print.
- Hammerson, G. 2004. Eurycea cirrigera. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 23 July 2007.
Server, David M. Comments on the Taxonomy and Morphology of Two-Lined Salamanders of the Eurycea Bislineata Complex. Chicago Herpitilogical Society. Saint Mary's College, n.d. Web. 5 May 2014. <http://www2.southeastern.edu/Academics/Faculty/dsever/EuryceaCHS1989.pdf>.
|This lungless salamander article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Jacobs (1987) examined allozyme variation and concluded that Eurycea bislineata subspecies bislineata, cirrigera, and wilderae should be regarded as distinct species. Most subsequent authors, including Sever (1999), have followed this treatment, but Petranka (1998) retained these taxa as subspecies of Eurycea bislineata, pending study of genetic interactions in contact zones. Camp et al. (2000) examined allozyme and morphological variation in Eurycea at a contact zone between E. cirrigera and E. wilderae in Georgia and concluded that the two are distinct species. Kozak and Montanucci (2001) examined genetic variation across a wilderae-cirrigera contact zone in South Carolina, found evidence of an extended history of reduced gene exchange, and concluded that the two are distinct species.
The status of Eurycea aquatica has been problematic. Sever (1999) reasoned that E. aquatica may be a valid species, but recent checklists did not regard Eurycea aquatica as a valid species but instead included it in Eurycea cirrigera (Crother et al. 2000, 2003; Collins and Taggart 2002) or E. bislineata (sensu lato, Petranka 1998).
A phylogeographic analysis of the E. bislineata complex based on mtDNA data (Kozak et al. 2006) revealed that E. cirrigera and E. wilderae as currently circumscribed are not monophyletic lineages but rather consist of several distinct lineages. Eurycea bislineata (as currently defined, separate from E. cirrigera and E. wilderae) was represented by two lineages. Eurycea junaluska and E. aquatica (Alabama samples) each formed monophyletic lineages that were deemed worthy of recognition as distinct species. Kozak et al. did not make a formal taxonomic revision of the E. bislineata complex and did not propose names for the newly identified lineages. Until the taxonomy has been resolved, this database retains E. bislineata, E. cirrigera, and E. wilderae as mapped by Conant and Collins (1991), except that E. aquatica is recognized as a distinct species rather than as part of E. cirrigera.