- (Cope and Packard, 1881)
Other English Common Names: green salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s):
Aneides aeneus (Cope and Packard, 1881) (TSN 173699)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103197
Element Code: AAAAD01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference: Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B85FRO01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Aneides aeneus
Taxonomic Comments: Aneides aeneus likely comprises multiple species, but a formal taxonomic revision has not been published (see dicussion in Pauley and watson 2005).
Mahoney (2001) used mtDNA data to examine phylogenetic relationships of western and eastern Plethodon and Aneides. She found strong support for eastern Plethodon as a clade, but monophyly of Aneides was only weakly supported in some analyses, though "the monophyly of this clade is not in doubt." Analyses indicated that Plethodon stormi and P. elongatus are clearly sister taxa, and P. dunni and P. vehiculum also are well-supported sister taxa. Plethodon larselli and P. vandykei appear to be closely related, whereas P. neomexicanus did not group with any other lineage. All analyses yielded a paraphyletic Plethodon but constraint analyses did not allow rejection of a monophyletic Plethodon. Mahoney recommended continued recognition of Aneides as a valid genus and adoption of the metataxon designation for Plethodon*, indicating this status with an asterisk. (A metataxon is a group of lineages for which neither monophyly nor paraphyly can be demonstrated.)
Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 25May2007
Global Status Last Changed: 04Oct2001
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Widely but patchily distributed in the Appalachian Mountains region; subpopulations that are isolated or disjunct or at the periphery of the range tend to be threatened or declining; better information on status is needed for many areas; narrow habitat requirements; threatened by habitat loss.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4
U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Alabama (S3), Georgia (S2), Indiana (S1), Kentucky (S3S4), Maryland (S2), Mississippi (S1), North Carolina (S2S3), Ohio (S2), Pennsylvania (S1), South Carolina (S1), Tennessee (S3S4), Virginia (S3), West Virginia (S3)
IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened
NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors
Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The range encompasses the Appalachian region, extending discontinuously from extreme southwestern Pennsylvania, extreme western Maryland, and southern Ohio to extreme northeastern Mississippi, northern Alabama, northern Georgia, western North Carolina, and western South Carolina (Pauley and Watson 2005), with a widely disjunct occurrence in Crawford County, southern Indiana (Madej, 1994, Herpetol. Rev. 25:31). The North Caorlina/South Carolina/northeastern Georgia distribution is disjunct from the main portion of the range.
Elevational range is around 140-1350 meters, with the highest known occurrences in Kentucky and North Carolina.
Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: The number of extant occurrences (subpopulations) is unknown but likely exceeds 100. Green and Pauley (1987) mapped about 30 counties of occurrence in West Virginia. Redmond and Scott (1996) mapped about 36 collection sites in Tennessee. Mount (1975) mapped 16-17 collection sites in Alabama. Pfingsten and Downs (1989) mapped 8 sites in southern Ohio (5 post-1950) and reported that the species may have healthy populations.
Population Size: 2500 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Generally uncommon throughout most of the range (Petranka 1998). Martof et al. (1980) reported that the green salamander is "scarce" in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Barbour (1971) reported "tremendous populations" under bark of dead chestnut trees in eastern Kentucky in the 1930s. Reported as locally common in northern Alabama by Mount (1975).
Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown
Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Declines may have resulted from habitat loss (land and watershed development) and possibly overcollecting and epidemic disease (Mitchell et al. 1999, Corser 2001); severe drought may exacerbate other threats or cause presumably temporary declines. Snyder (1991) attributed a decline in Blue Ridge populations to mortality associated with prolonged cold periods in winter. Wilson (2003) suggested that the rarity of A. aeneus is linked to the loss of American chestnut and old-growth forests (e.g., spaces under the bark of large snags and logs probably were formerly significant microhabitats for this species, whereas today these microhabitats are relatively scarce; see discussion and references in Pauley and Watson 2005).
Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Current trend is unknown, but area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and abundance probably are declining at a rate of less than 30% over 10 years or three generations.
Long-term Trend: Decline of <70% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Extent of occurrence has not changed much, but area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and especially abundance apparently have declined significantly over the past several decades. Disjunct Blue Ridge Escarpment (BRE) population exhibited a dramatic decline in abundance after the early 1970s (Mitchell et al. 1999, Corser 2001). Snyder (1991) reported that the BRE populations appeared to be recovering, but Corser (2001) determined that three out of six populations first discovered in 1991 crashed in 1996-1997. Populations in the main range appear to have remained stable (Snyder 1991).
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.
Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information
Inventory Needs: Obtain up-to-date information on range-wide abundance and distribution.
Protection Needs: Protect occurrences in sites distributed throughout the range.
(20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles))
The range encompasses the Appalachian region, extending discontinuously from extreme southwestern Pennsylvania, extreme western Maryland, and southern Ohio to extreme northeastern Mississippi, northern Alabama, northern Georgia, western North Carolina, and western South Carolina (Pauley and Watson 2005), with a widely disjunct occurrence in Crawford County, southern Indiana (Madej, 1994, Herpetol. Rev. 25:31). The North Caorlina/South Carolina/northeastern Georgia distribution is disjunct from the main portion of the range.
Elevational range is around 140-1350 meters, with the highest known occurrences in Kentucky and North Carolina.
U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Endemism: endemic to a single nation
U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
AL, GA, IN, KY, MD, MS, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WV
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted.
For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.
Range Map Compilers: IUCN, Conservation International, NatureServe, and collaborators, 2004
U.S. Distribution by County
||County Name (FIPS Code)
St. Clair (01115)*,
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed
||Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
South Branch Potomac (02070001)+
Upper Broad (03050105)+,
Upper Coosa (03150105)+,
Middle Coosa (03150106)+*,
Upper Tombigbee (03160101)+,
Tygart Valley (05020001)+,
West Fork (05020002)+*,
Lower Monongahela (05020005)+,
Little Kanawha (05030203)+,
Middle New (05050002)+,
Lower New (05050004)+,
Upper Kanawha (05050006)+,
Lower Kanawha (05050008)+,
Lower Scioto (05060002)+*,
Upper Guyandotte (05070101)+,
Lower Guyandotte (05070102)+*,
Big Sandy (05070204)+*,
Little Scioto-Tygarts (05090103)+,
Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+,
Upper Cumberland (05130101)+*,
South Fork Cumberland (05130104)+,
Upper Cumberland-Cordell Hull (05130106)+,
Upper French Broad (06010105)+,
Watts Bar Lake (06010201)+,
Upper Little Tennessee (06010202)+,
Upper Clinch (06010205)+,
Lower Clinch (06010207)+,
Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga (06020001)+,
Guntersville Lake (06030001)+,
Wheeler Lake (06030002)+,
Upper Elk (06030003)+*,
Pickwick Lake (06030005)+,
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A small salamander.
General Description: This is a greenish terrestrial salamander with a flattened body, long legs, and widened, square-tipped toes.
Diagnostic Characteristics: This is the only really green salamander in eastern North America (Conant and Collins 1991).
Reproduction Comments: Mating occurs in late spring and early fall. Male-gravid female pairs occur in late spring and late summer-early fall (Canterbury and Pauley 1994). Lays 10-30 eggs in late spring-early summer; in June in West Virginia (Canterbury and Pauley 1994) and North Carolina, by mid-July in southeastern Kentucky (Cupp 1991), in mid- to late July in Mississippi (Woods 1968). Female stays with eggs until they hatch in 10-13 weeks. Young hatch in late summer or early fall (mainly late August, September, or as late as early October) (Davis 2004). No aquatic larval stage. Adult females evidently do not produce eggs every year (Canterbury and Pauley 1994).
Ecology Comments: Often found in association with the spider HYPOCHILUS THORELLI.
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cliff, Forest - Hardwood, Woodland - Hardwood
Special Habitat Factors: Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Damp (but not wet) crevices in shaded rock outcrops and ledges. Also beneath loose bark and in cracks of standing or fallen trees (e.g., in cove hardwoods); sometimes in or under logs on ground (e.g., Wilson 2003). Sometimes reaches high population densities in logged areas where tree tops are left. Eggs are laid in rock crevices (e.g., Davis 2004), rotting stumps, or similar dark, damp places.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats small terrestrial invertebrates: snails, slugs, spiders, small insects.
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Hibernates in winter. Most active at night, though may be seen on cloudy days.
Length: 13 centimeters
Not yet assessed
Stewardship Overview: The most important management need is maintenance of mature forest in and among occupied rock outcrops.
Management Requirements: Whenever feasible, a forested buffer of at least 100 m should be left around occupied rock outcrops (Petranka 1998).
Management Research Needs: Better information on current status is needed, as is information on threats. The extent to which logging of old growth forest has reduced gene flow among rock outcrop populations should be studied (Petranka 1998).
Group Name: Terrestrial Plethodontid Salamanders
Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway, especially with high traffic volume at night; major river or lake; other totally inappropriate habitat that the salamanders cannot traverse.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 3 km
Separation Justification: These salamanders rarely successfully cross roadways that have heavy traffic volume at night, when most movements occur. Rivers and lakes pose formidable impediments to movement and generally function as barriers, with the effect increasing with river and lake size. Treatment of these as barriers or unsuitable habitat is a subjective determination.
Compared to larger ambystomatid salamanders, the movements of plethodontids are poorly documented, but it is clear that home ranges tend to be very small (e.g., Marvin 2001), on the order of a few meters to a few dozen meters in diameter. For example, Welsh and Lind (1992) found that over six months, 66% of Plethodon elongatus males and 80% of females recaptured were in the same 7.5 x 7.5 m grid, and the maximum distance moved was 36.2 m. D. Clayton (pers. comm 1998) estimated that average home ranges may be as small as one square meter. Yet, on occasion, dispersing plethodontids likely travel at least several hundred meters. The separation distance for unsuitable habitat reflects the nominal minimum value of 1 km. The separation distance for suitable habitat reflects the limited movements of these salamanders, tempered by their tendency to occur throughout patches of suitable habitat and the likely low probability that two locations separated by a gap of less than a few kilometers of suitable habitat would represent independent occurrences over the long term.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Author: Hammerson, G.
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25May2007
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and F. Dirrigl, F., Jr.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 22Apr2005
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.
Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of
natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).
- Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. 2005. Conserving Alabama's wildlife: a comprehensive strategy. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Montgomery, Alabama. 303 pages. [Available online at http://www.dcnr.state.al.us/research-mgmt/cwcs/outline.cfm ]
- Barbour, R. W. 1971. Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky. Univ. Press of Kentucky, Lexington. x + 334 pp.
- Blackburn, L., P. Nanjappa, and M. J. Lannoo. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Copyright, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA.
- Canterbury, R. A., and T. K. Pauley. 1994. Time of mating and egg deposition of West Virginia populations of the salamander Aneides aeneus. J. Herpetol. 28:431-434.
- Conant, R. and J. T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians: eastern and central North America. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts. 450 pp.
- Corser, J. D. 2001. Decline of disjunct green salamander (Aneides aeneus) populations in the southern Appalachians. Biological Conservation 97:119-126.
- Crother, B. I. (editor). 2008. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Sixth edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Herpetological Circular 37:1-84. Online with updates at: http://www.ssarherps.org/pages/comm_names/Index.php
- Cupp, P. V., Jr. 1991. Aspects of the life history and ecology of the green salamander, Aneides aeneus, in Kentucky. J. Tennessee Acad. Sci. 66:171-174.
- Davis, A. 2004. Aneides aeneus and Plethodon glutinosus. Nesting observations. Herpetological Review 35:51-52.
- Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.
- Gordon, R.E. 1967. Aneides aeneus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 30:1-2.
- Green, N. B., and T. K. Pauley. 1987. Amphibians and reptiles in West Virginia. University of Pittsburg Press, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. xi + 241 pp.
- Hulse, A. C., C. J. McCoy, and E. Censky. 2001. Amphibians and reptiles of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press, Ithaca. 419 pp.
- Minton, S. A., Jr. 1972. Amphibians and reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy Science Monographs 3. v + 346 pp.
- Mirarchi, R. E., M. A. Bailey, T. M. Haggerty, and T. L. Best, editors. 2004. Alabama wildlife. Volume 3. Imperiled amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 225 pages.
- Mirarchi, R.E., editor. 2004. Alabama Wildlife. Volume 1. A checklist of vertebrates and selected invertebrates: aquatic mollusks, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 209 pages.
- Mitchell, J. C., T. K. Pauley, D. I. Withers, S. M. Roble, B. T. Miller, A. L. Braswell, P. V. Cupp, Jr,. and C. S. Hobson. 1999. Conservation status of the southern Appalachian herpetofauna. Virginia Journal of Science 50:13-35.
- Mount, R. H. 1975. The reptiles and amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn, Alabama. vii + 347 pages.
- Mount, R. H. 1975. The reptiles and amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn, Alabama. vii + 347 pp.
- Mount, R. H., editor. 1986. Vertebrate animals of Alabama in need of special attention. Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn University, Alabama. 124 pages.
- Pauley, T. K., and M. B. Watson. 2005. Aneides aeneus (Cope and Packard, 1881). Green salamander. Pages 656-658 in M. Lannoo, editor. Amphibian declines: the conservation status of United States species. University of California Press, Berkeley.
- Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
- Pfingsten, R. A., and F. L. Downs, eds. 1989. Salamanders of Ohio. Bull. Ohio Biological Survey 7(2):xx + 315 pp.
- Redmond, W. H., and A. F. Scott. 1996. Atlas of amphibians in Tennessee. The Center for Field Biology, Austin Peay State University, Miscellaneous Publication Number 12. v + 94 pp.
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- Woods, J. E. 1968. The ecology and natural history of Mississippi populations of Aneides aeneus and associated salamanders. Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. Southern Mississippi.
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