Overview

Distribution

Plethodon cylindraceus occurs in the southern Appalachian and piedmont regions of the Appalachian Highlands, as well as the southern coastal plain. It is found in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont physiographic provinces of Virginia and North Carolina, west to the French Broad River and south to the Northern Piedmont of South Carolina. Outside of that area, P. cylindraceus can also be found in the Valley and Ridge Physiographic province in western Virginia and eastern West Virginia, as well as in a small area of the Coastal Plain physiographic province of eastern Virginia.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Range Description

This species is found in the eastern USA, in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge physiographic provinces of Virginia and North Carolina west to the French Broad River and south to the northern Piedmont of South Carolina, and parts of the Valley and Ridge physiographic province in western Virginia and extreme eastern West Virginia and in a small area of the Coastal Plain of eastern Virginia (Highton et al. 1989); also probably the Blue Ridge Mountains and Valley and Ridge provinces in northeastern Tennessee (Redmond and Scott 1996).
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endemic to a single nation

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: Piedmont and Blue Ridge physiographic provinces of Virginia and North Carolina west to the French Broad River and south to the northern Piedmont of South Carolina, and parts of the Valley and Ridge physiographic province in western Virginia and extreme eastern West Virginia and in a small area of the Coastal Plain of eastern Virginia (Highton et al. 1989); also probably the Blue Ridge Mountains and Valley and Ridge provinces in northeastern Tennessee (Redmond and Scott 1996). Elevational range at least 137-1,036 m (Highton et al. 1989).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Plethodon cylindraceus, like most salamanders, feature slender bodies, short noses, and long tails. Most individuals have large dorsal and lateral white spots. Adults may reach 11.4 to 20.6 cm in length. This species is typically shiny black with a dark throat and slate belly color. Plethodon cylindraceus also has 15 to 17 costal grooves. Its limbs are set at right angles to the trunk, and the forelimbs and hind limbs are of equal size, typical of most salamanders in general.

Range length: 11.4 to 20.6 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

  • Bruce, R., R. Jaeger, L. Houck. 2000. The Biology of Plethodontid Salamanders. New York, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
  • Hickman Jr., R., L. Roberts, S. Keen, A. Larson, D. Eisenhour. 2009. Animal Diversity 5th Edition. New York, New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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Type Information

Neotype for Plethodon cylindraceus
Catalog Number: USNM 257522
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: Female;
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1971
Locality: Chester, ENE of, on SC Route 9, Chester, South Carolina, United States, North America
Elevation (m): 137 to 137
  • Neotype: Harlan, R. 1825. Journ. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 5 (1): 156.; Highton, R. 1989. Illinois Biological Monographs. 57: 70-71.
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Ecology

Habitat

Plethodon cylindraceus lives in terrestrial oak-hickory forests with a significant layer of leaf litter. Typically, both juveniles and adults are found under logs and other cover objects; they are rarely found in the leaf litter. Most specimens have been found near water sources, and they are active on moist forest floors during the night from spring to fall. During dry periods, P. cylindraceus gather in moist areas under cover objects or move underground. Seasonally, P. cylindraceus will move underground during winter months. They are found at high elevations, averaging 1676 meters above sea level.

Average elevation: 1676 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Its habitat is presumed to be the same as that for Plethodon glutinosus: Wooded slopes, ravines, floodplains, shalebanks, and cave entrances, most often in hardwood forest, sometimes in pinelands. It is generally under or in rotting logs, stumps, or leaf-litter, or under rocks, during the day. It goes underground during dry or freezing weather. Eggs are laid in rotting logs, underground, or in rock crevices, where they develop directly without a larval stage.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Forest habitats; terrestrial breeder.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

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.

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Trophic Strategy

Plethodon cylindraceus, like all salamanders, are capable of eating a myriad of prey ranging in size and species, completely ingesting whatever prey they encounter with the exception of the size constraints of their mouths. What P. cylindraceus eats is largely determined by the amount of prey within its habitat and the time of year. Salamanders are carnivorous, eating animal food both before and after metamorphosis. Plethodon cylindraceus consumes leaf litter invertebrates including spiders, beetles, ants, millipedes, slugs, worms and insect larvae.

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Associations

Plethodon cylindraceus impact their communities with their burrowing by contributing to the dynamics of the soil. They dig and break up the soil to increase aeration. White-spotted slimy salamanders also are host to many internal parasites including: Cryptobia borreli, Eutrichomastix batrachorum, Haptophyra gigantean, Haptophyra michiganensis, Hexamastix batrachorum, Hexamitus intestinalis, Karotomorpha swezi, Prowazekella longifilis, Tririchomonas augusta, Brachycoelium hospitae, Capillaria inequalis, Cosmocercoides dukae, Oswaldocruzia pipiens, Oxyuris magnavulvaris, Acanthocephalus acutulus, and Hannemania dunni.

Ecosystem Impact: soil aeration

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Blood parasites (Cryptobia borreli)
  • Intestinal parasites (Eutrichomastix batrachorum)
  • Protazoan parasites (Haptophyra gigantea)
  • Intestinal parasites (Haptophyra michiganensis)
  • Intestinal parasites (Hexamastix batrachorum)
  • Intestinal parasites (Hexamitus intestinalis)
  • Intestinal parasites (Tririchomonas augusta)
  • Intestinal parasites (Karotomorpha swezi)
  • Intestinal parasites (Prowazekella longifilis)
  • Intestinal parasites (Brachycoelium hospitae)
  • Intestinal parasites (Capillaria inequalis)
  • Intestinal parasites (Cosmocercoides dukae)
  • Intestinal parasitess (Oxyuris magnavulvaris)
  • Intestinal parasites (Oswaldocruzia pipiens)
  • Parasitic worms (Acanthocephalus acutulus)
  • Mites (Hannemania dunni)

  • Hairston, N. 1987. Community ecology and salamander guilds. Cambridge (Cambridgeshire): Cambridge University Press.
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Two North American snakes are known predators of Plethodon cylindraceus. Garter snakes (Thamnophis genus) and copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix) feed on white-spotted slimy salamanders. All species of the Plethodon genus produce noxious skin secretions as predator defense. White-spotted slimy salamanders produce copious amounts of slime which often gum up a predator's mouth, giving the salamander a chance to escape. Plethodon cylindraceus become immobile when physically contacted, making them less likely to become detected by visually oriented predators.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

In order to perceive the environment, Plethodon cylindraceus uses its cornea as its principle refractive surface for bending light in air. Plethodon cylindraceus has eyelids and lachrymal glands to protect and wash its eyes. This species ear contains a tympanic membrane, or eardrum, and stapes that are used to transmit vibrations to its inner ear. It uses vision, olfaction, vibration sense, mechanoreception, and electroreception to communicate with others and perceive the environment. When mating, males incorporate a "dance" to attract females. Males also produce hormones that are rubbed onto the female during mating rituals.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; vibrations

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; vibrations

  • Roth, G. 1987. Visual behavior in salamanders. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
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Life Cycle

Little is known regarding the development of this species. Females lay eggs in moist, terrestrial burrows or crevasses in late spring or early summer. All development occurs within the eggs, thus there is no aquatic larval stage. The young emerge 2 to 3 months later as sub-adults. Juveniles measure around 20 mm in length at one year of age and are oftentimes found under logs. Juveniles become reproductively mature at 4 to 5 years old, at which time they measure 50 to 76 cm snout-vent length (SVL).

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Life Expectancy

Plethodon cylindraceus is typically long-lived and can live for five to ten years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
5 to 10 years.

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Reproduction

During the spring, male Plethodon cylindraceus search for female mates typically underneath logs. Once a male finds a female mate, he places his nasolabial grooves and mental glands against the female’s body. The male displays a foot dance in which he raises and lowers his rear limbs simultaneously or alternately. The male then moves towards the female’s head while repeatedly rubbing his nasolabial grooves on the female. Once the male reaches the female's head he rubs his mental gland over her head and nasolabial grooves. The male then places his head under her chin and attempts to pass beneath her, waving his tail as it passes under the female’s mouth. When the male stops moving forward, the female grabs on to his tail and then the pair move forward while the female is grasping onto the male. The pair continues to move forward until the spermatophore is deposited. No mate defense has been observed for this species.

Mating System: monogamous

Plethodon cylindraceus begins courtship and mating in the spring and fall. White spotted slimy salamanders lay six to thirty six eggs in an underground retreat such as underneath or within a log, or in a moist crevasse during late spring. The female is tasked with guarding the nest and her eggs hatch after 2 to 3 months. Plethodon cylindraceus displays no aquatic larval stage. The larvae hatch in late summer and take 4 to 5 years to mature. Females lay eggs typically once every other year.

Breeding interval: White-spotted slimy salamanders breed once every other year.

Breeding season: White-spotted slimy salamanders breed from late spring to summer.

Range number of offspring: 6 to 36.

Range time to hatching: 2 to 3 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 4 to 5 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 to 5 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

Plethodon cylindraceus females that are breeding go underground to brood their eggs for 2 to 3 months until they hatch. Male involvement has not been documented after initial mating.

Parental Investment: female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

Plethodon cylindraceus is not protected by any state and is labeled as least concern by the IUCN Red List. IUCN Red List states that this species has a wide distribution and a large population, and thus is not threatened at this time. This species is abundant within its range and is tolerant to habitat alteration. Selective timber harvesting has not shown any negative effects on P. cylindraceus, but clearcuts may cause local population declines.

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group

Reviewer/s
Angulo, A.

Contributor/s
Hammerson, G.A. & Garcia Moreno, J.

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution and presumed large population.

History
  • 2004
    Least Concern
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Secure; not universally accepted as a valid species.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

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Population

Population
It is widespread and common.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
Intensive harvest of mature forest greatly reduces salamander density in the logged area; population recovery occurs slowly (Herbeck and Larsen 1999). However, logging does not constitute a major threat to the security of the global population.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Maintenance of mature hardwood forest habitat is key to the long-term persistence of viable populations of this species (Petranka 1998). Taxonomic research is needed to clarify its status.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no adverse effects of Plethodon cylindraceus on humans.

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There are no positive effects of Plethodon cylindraceus on humans.

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Wikipedia

White-spotted slimy salamander

The white-spotted slimy salamander (Plethodon cylindraceus) is a species of salamander in the Plethodontidae family. It is endemic to the United States, where it is common in the eastern states.

Its natural habitat is temperate forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

References[edit]


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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Highton et al. (1989) regarded P. glutinosus (sensu lato) as a complex of multiple species, most of which can be recognized only by biochemical characteristics (allele frequencies). Taxa formerly included in P. glutinosus and recognized as distinct species by Highton et al. (1989) include: P. teyahalee, P. chattahoochee, P. chlorobryonis, P. variolatus, P. ocmulgee, P. kiamichi, P. mississippi, P. kisatchie, P. sequoyah, P. grobmani, P. cylindraceus, P. albagula, P. savannah, P. aureolus, and P. kentucki. Some salamander taxonomists question the practice of recognizing species that are distinguished only by differences in allele frequencies, particularly in the absence of direct information on reproductive isolation (Wake, in Highton et al. 1989; Frost and Hillis 1990).

Petranka (1998) regarded P. aureolus, P. kentucki, and P. teyahalee (as P. oconaluftee) as distinct species, but he regarded P. chattahoochee, P. chlorobryonis, P. variolatus, P. ocmulgee, P. kiamichi, P. mississippi, P. kisatchie, P. sequoyah, P. grobmani, P. cylindraceus, P. albagula, and P. savannah as conspecific with (and junior synonyms of) P. glutinosus. Petranka felt that the split of P. glutinosus into multiple species was premature because of the lack of detailed information on genetic interactions at contact zones between the nominal taxa.

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