Gyrinophilus palleucus - McCrady, 1954
Tennessee Cave Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Gyrinophilus palleucus McCrady, 1954 (TSN 173714)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100081
Element Code: AAAAD06010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Salamanders
Image 11995

Public Domain

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae Gyrinophilus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Frost, D. R. 2002. Amphibian Species of the World: an online reference. V2.21 (15 July 2002). Electronic database available at http://research.amnh.org/herpetology/amphibia/index.html.
Concept Reference Code: N02FRO01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Gyrinophilus palleucus
Taxonomic Comments: Three subspecies (palleucus, gulolineatus, and necturoides) have been recognized; intergradation between palleucus and necturoides is evident in some Alabama populations (A. Wynne, in Godwin 1995). Some populations do not conform well with any of the named subspecies. One form in Tennessee may be sufficiently distinct biochemically to warrant recognition as a separate species (Redmond and Scott 1996). Gyrinophilus gulolineatus (Berry cave salamander) was treated as a species by Brandon et al. (1986), Collins and Taggart (2002), and Crother et al. (2000), but Petranka (1998) maintained this taxon as a subspecies of G. palleucus.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 23Apr2007
Global Status Last Changed: 21Aug2002
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Small range in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia; about two dozen known occurrences; few data, but likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, and number of subpopulations; some populations may be declining; major threat is habitat destruction/alteration.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3 (21Aug2002)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S2), Georgia (S1), Tennessee (S2)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: VU - Vulnerable

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 250-20,000 square km (about 100-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The range encompasses central and south-central Tennessee, northern Alabama, and northwestern Georgia (Frost 2002, Beachy 2005). Godwin (1995) regarded Jess Elliot Cave as the most significant site in Alabama. Cave Cove Cave (elevation approximately 425 meters) supports the largest population in Tennessee (Caldwell and Copeland 1992). Known elevational range is approximately 150-400 meters.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by approximately two dozen known occurrences; others probably exist (Godwin 1995). Godwin (1995) reported this species in 6 of 14 Alabama sites surveyed in 1994-1995. Lewis (2005) documented cave occurrences in Tennessee in 8 caves in Franklin, Grundy, Marion, and Warren Cos.

Population Size: 1000 - 10,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Abundance is difficult to determine but total adult population size probably exceeds 1,000. Available information suggests that populations contain small numbers of individuals. Surveys rarely yield more than 10-20 individuals per cave visit (Petranka 1998). Population estimates for individual caves usually are a few to several dozen individuals per cave (Simmons 1975, Petranka 1998).

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats include: flooding following dam construction; water pollutants in runoff from agricultural and residential areas; increased water flow and siltation resulting from deforestation, mining, and urbanization; and deposition of fill and trash in sinkholes (Caldwell and Copeland 1992, Godwin 1995, Petranka 1998, Beachy 2005).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Population in Custard Hollow Cave, Tennessee, appears to be declining (Caldwell and Copeland 1992).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Few data are available, but extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, and number of subpopulations probably have not declined by more than 25% compared to the historical situation. Beachy (2005) stated that most populations appear to be declining, but documentation of this is scant.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly to moderately vulnerable.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: In Alabama, House of Happiness, McFarland, and Shelta caves need to be resurveyed (Godwin 1995).

Protection Needs: Protect all known populations. Protect watersheds that drain into sinkhole systems (Petranka 1998). See Caldwell and Copeland (1992) for protection recommendation for specific sites in Tennessee.

Distribution
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Global Range: (250-20,000 square km (about 100-8000 square miles)) The range encompasses central and south-central Tennessee, northern Alabama, and northwestern Georgia (Frost 2002, Beachy 2005). Godwin (1995) regarded Jess Elliot Cave as the most significant site in Alabama. Cave Cove Cave (elevation approximately 425 meters) supports the largest population in Tennessee (Caldwell and Copeland 1992). Known elevational range is approximately 150-400 meters.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, GA, TN

Range Map
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 Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Colbert (01033), DeKalb (01049)*, Jackson (01071), Limestone (01083), Madison (01089)*, Marshall (01095)*
GA Walker (13295)
TN Bedford (47003), Coffee (47031), Franklin (47051), Grundy (47061), Hamilton (47065)*, Marion (47115), Marshall (47117), Maury (47119), Rutherford (47149), Sequatchie (47153), Warren (47177), Wilson (47189)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
05 Collins (05130107)+, Stones (05130203)+
06 Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga (06020001)+, Sequatchie (06020004)+, Guntersville Lake (06030001)+, Wheeler Lake (06030002)+, Upper Elk (06030003)+, Lower Elk (06030004)+*, Pickwick Lake (06030005)+, Upper Duck (06040002)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A pinkish, gilled, troglobitic salamander that reach a maximum length of about 18 cm.
Reproduction Comments: Paedomorphic. Rarely metamorphoses in nature (Yeatman and Miller 1985).
Ecology Comments: Syntopic troglobitic species include ASELLUS ALABAMENSIS, CAMBARUS JONESI, ORCONECTES AUSTRALIS, and TYPHICHTHYS SUBTERRANEUS.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Subterranean Habitat(s): Subaquatic
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Subterranean obligate
Habitat Comments: Occurs in streams in caves that contain amphipods and other aquatic organisms that can serve as food; individuals may be found in rimstone pools, stream runs and pools, and pools isolated by receding waters; water tends to be clear and free of sediment; substrates include rock, gravel, sand, and mud (Godwin 1995). Sinkholes are an important habitat component, allowing for detritus inflow (Caldwell and Copeland 1992). Occasionally occurs in epigean environments; probably these individuals have been washed out of caves (Bury et al. 1980).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Diet includes amphipods, isopods, ostracods, insects (beetles, stoneflies, mayflies, caddisflies, Thysanura, Diptera), worms, and salamanders.
Length: 23 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: See Caldwell and Copeland (1992) for management recommendations for specific sites in Tennessee.
Monitoring Requirements: See Caldwell and Copeland (1992) for monitoring recommendations for specific sites in Tennessee.
Biological Research Needs: Research taxonomic distinctness of subspecies.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Aquatic/Wetland 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 larvae or 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; other totally inappropriate habitat that the salamanders cannot traverse.
Alternate Separation Procedure: Separation distance for stream-dwelling species along riverine corridors: 10 stream km. Separation distance for other freshwater aquatic and wetland habitats: 3 km. Separation distance for upland habitat: 1 km.
Separation Justification: These salamanders rarely successfully cross roadways that have heavy traffic volume at night, when most movements occur. Salamanders in this Specs Group, except strictly subterranean species, tend to be able to traverse upland habitat when conditions are wet, and generally they can pass through atypical wetland and aquatic habitats to reach another patch of suitable habitat. However, Grover and Wilbur (2002) created replicated seeps at distances of 3, 15, and more than 30 m from streams or natural seeps and found that Desmognathus fuscus and Gyrinophilus porphyriticus colonized the new seeps at 3 m and 15 m but were rare or absent at new seeps more than 30 m from the nearest stream or natural seep.

Although these specifications do not include rivers as barriers, Adams and Beachy (2001) documented morphological variation among populations of Gyrinophilus porphyriticus in the southern Appalachian Mountains and found patterns "consistent with the hypothesis that large rivers restrict sizable gene flow." Large rivers probably function at least as unsuitable habitat for many species in this Specs Group.

Compared to larger ambystomatid salamanders, the movements of plethodontids are poorly documented, but home ranges likely tend to be very small, on the order of a few meters to a few dozen meters in length or diameter. Yet, on occasion, dispersing individuals likely travel at least several hundred meters, and stream-dwelling species likely disperse much farther along riverine corridors. Over a number of years, it is likely that these salamanders can spread multiple kilometers through suitable habitat.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 28Oct2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Apr2007
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and J. Godwin
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 05Apr1996
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).

References
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  • 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 ]

  • Beachy, C. K. 2005. Gyrinophilus palleucus McCrady, 1954. Tennessee cave salamander. Pages 775-776 in M. Lannoo, editor. Amphibian declines: the conservation status of United States species. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  • 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.

  • Brandon, R. A., J. Jacobs, A. Wynn, and D. M. Sever. 1986. A naturally metamorphosed Tennessee cave salamander (Gyrinophilus palleucus). J. Tennessee Acad. Sci. 61:1-2.

  • Brandon, R.A. 1965. A new race of neotenic salamander Gyrinophilus palleucus. Copeia 1965(3):346-352.

  • Brandon, R.A. 1967. Gyrinophilus palleucus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 32:1-2.

  • Bury, R. B., C. K. Dodd, Jr., and G. M. Fellers. 1980. Conservation of the Amphibia of the United States: a review. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C., Resource Publication 134. 34 pp.

  • Caldwell, R. S., and J. E. Copeland. 1992. Status and habitat of the Tennessee cave salamander, GYRINOPHILUS PALLEUCUS. Final report submitted to Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Nashville, Tennessee. 24 pp.

  • Collins, J. T. 1991. Viewpoint: a new taxonomic arrangement for some North American amphibians and reptiles. SSAR Herpetol. Review 22:42-43.

  • Collins, J. T., and T. W. Taggart. 2002. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians, turtles, reptiles, & crocodilians. Fifth edition. Publication of The Center for North American Herpetology, Lawrence, Kansas. iv + 44 pp.

  • 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.

  • Cooper, J. E. 1968. The salamander Gyrinophilus palleucus in Georgia with notes on Alabama and Tennessee populations. Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science 39:182-185.

  • Cooper, J. E. and M. R. Cooper. 1968. Cave-associated herpetozoa II: salamanders of the genus Gyrinophilus in Alabama Caves. National Speleological Society Bulletin. 30(2):19-24.

  • 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.

  • Crother, B. I., J. Boundy, J. A. Campbell, K. de Queiroz, D. R. Frost, R. Highton, J. B. Iverson, P. A. Meylan, T. W. Reeder, M. E. Seidel, J. W. Sites, Jr., T. W. Taggart, S. G. Tilley, and D. B. Wake. 2000 [2001]. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Herpetological Circular No. 29. 82 pp.

  • Dowling, H. G. 1993. Viewpoint: a reply to Collins (1991, 1992). Herpetol. Rev. 24:11-13.

  • 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.

  • Frost, D. R. 2002. Amphibian Species of the World: an online reference. V2.21 (15 July 2002). Electronic database available at http://research.amnh.org/herpetology/amphibia/index.html.

  • Godwin, J. C. 1999b. Reassessment of the historical localities of the Tennessee Cave Salamander (Gyrinophilus palleucus) in Alabama. Endangered Species Program Annual Report. Grant E-1, Segment 8, Study 39: Tennessee cave salamander status survey. Report submitted to Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Montgomery, Alabama. Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Montgomery, Alabama. 9 pages.

  • Godwin, J. C. 2000a. Reassessment of the historical localities of the Tennessee Cave Salamander (Gyrinophilus palleucus) in Alabama. Report submitted to Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Montgomery, Alabama. Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Montgomery, Alabama. 15 pages.

  • Godwin, J. C. 1995b. Reassessment of the historical localities of the Tennessee cave salamander (GYRINOPHILUS PALLEUCUS) in Alabama. Unpublished report submitted to Alabama Natural Heritage Program. 32 pp.

  • Lewis, J.J. 2005c. Bioinventory of Caves of the Cumberland Escarpment Area of Tennessee. Final Report to Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency & The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee. Lewis & Associates LLC, 158 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.

  • 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.

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  • Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

  • 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.

  • Simmons, D. D. 1975. The evolutionary ecology of Gyrinophilus palleucus. M.S. thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville. 106 pp.

  • Yeatman, H. C., and H. B. Miller. 1985. A naturally metamorphosed GYRINOPHILUS PALLEUCUS from the type-locality. J. Herpetology 19:304-306.

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