IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

Comprehensive Description

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Description

A short-limbed, long-bodied salamander, closely resembling Plethodon elongatus (Del Norte Salamander). Juveniles have an even-edged, olive-tan dorsal stripe. In adults, the dorsal stripe appears light brown due to a light, uniform covering of melanophores. The dorsal stripe usually extends to the middle portion of the tail. Ground and ventral coloration is black in small juveniles, but lighter in adults, where it appears purplish-brown in dorsal ground color and lavender to light purplish-gray on the venter. The gular region is cream-colored, copper-colored iridophores are present beneath the stripe (may lend an orange or pink tone to the stripe), and heavy iridophore flecking appears on the head, sides, and limbs. Moderate iridophore flecking is present along the dorsal stripe and in the gular area. Iridophores are absent or very sparse along the midventral line. Some rare individuals have a few gold iridophores on the eye, above the pupil.

Sexual dimorphism is apparent in the number of maxillary and pre-maxillary teeth, with males having an average of 47.4 maxillary and pre-maxillary teeth, and females averaging 53.9. Also, males have mental glands, and, sometimes, poorly developed vent lobes (Brodie 1973).

P. elongatus differs from P. stormi in having a reddish dorsal stripe and sparse or absent dorsal iridophore flecking. P. elongatus also has shorter legs, fewer teeth, and a narrower, longer head (Brodie 1971), as well as more intercostal folds between adpressed limbs (5-6 for P. elongatus, 4-5 for P. stormi, and 2.5-3.5 for P. asupak) (Mead et al. 2005). P. asupak is more robust than either P. elongatus or P. stormi, with a wider head and longer limbs (Mead et al. 2005).

Individuals from southern Oregon and northern California are virtually identical in coloration and patterning, but local populations sometimes vary in the modal number of costal grooves (Brodie 1970; Nussbaum et al. 1983).

Although it had been debated whether the Siskiyou Mountains salamander should be designated as its own species or be included under within P. elongatus (Palazzo 1994), both molecular and morphological analysis confirm that P. stormi is a distinct species from P. elongatus, and from a third and recently named Siskiyou salamander species, P. asupak (Mead et al. 2005).

Named in honor of Robert M. Storm, Professor of Zoology at Oregon St. University, who directed the field trip in which the first specimens were found(Brodie 1971).

See another account at californiaherps.com.

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