Plethodon cheoah - Highton and Peabody, 2000
Cheoah Bald Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Plethodon cheoah Highton and Peabody, 2000 (TSN 668318)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104640
Element Code: AAAAD12480
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Salamanders
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae Plethodon
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Highton, R., and R. B. Peabody. 2000. Geographic protein variation and speciation in salamanders of the Plethodon jordani and Plethodon glutinosus complexes in the southern Appalachian Mountains with the description of four new species. Pages 31-93 in R. C. Bruce, R. G. Jaeger, and L. D. Houck, editors. The biology of plethodontid salamanders. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York. xiii + 485 pp.
Concept Reference Code: A00HIG01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Plethodon cheoah
Taxonomic Comments: Highton and Peabody (2000) examined allozyme and morphological variation in the Plethodon jordani and P. glutinosus complexes, and they also looked at interactions in contact zones. As a result of these studies, Highton and Peabody split P. jordani into multiple species as follows: P. jordani, P. montanus, P. metcalfi, P. amplus, P. meridianus, P. shermani, and P. cheoah. This revision was adopted by Crother et al. (2000).

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.)
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 18Apr2013
Global Status Last Changed: 18Apr2013
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Small range in western North Carolina.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1N2 (18Apr2013)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States North Carolina (S1S2)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: VU - Vulnerable

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: <100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This salamander is known from Cheoah Bald, Graham and Swain counties, North Carolina; the elevational range is at least 975-1,524 meters (Highton and Peabody 2000).

Area of Occupancy: 3-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Highton and Peabody (2000) listed seven locations from which they collected genetic data sets.

Population Size Comments: Common in suitable habitat; can easily locate 6 or more individuals within a 1- to 2-hour search at several sites within the range (Beamer, pers. comm., 2003).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Clearcutting may strongly deplete local populations of the P. jordani complex (Petranka et al. 1993); time required for recovery is debatable but is at least a few decades (Ash 1997, Petranka 1999, Ash and Pollock 1999). However, a large amount of the habitat of this species is second-growth forest, so it seems capable of surviving logging and similar forms of habitat disturbance (Beamer, pers. comm., 2003). This and other Plethodon species can persist in relatively small patches of habitat (Beamer and Lannoo 2005).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably are relatively stable or declining at a rate of less than 10% over 10 years or three generations.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Long-term trend is not definitely known, but extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably have not changed very much over the long term. In Graham County, the mean number of individuals found per person per visit averaged 8.5 in the 1980s and 6.7 in the 1990s (Highton 2005), suggesting a relatively stable population.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: Conservation activities that promote mature closed-canopy forests should benefit this species (Beamer and Lannoo 2005).

Distribution
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Global Range: (<100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)) This salamander is known from Cheoah Bald, Graham and Swain counties, North Carolina; the elevational range is at least 975-1,524 meters (Highton and Peabody 2000).

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 NC

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)
NC Graham (37075), Swain (37173)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
06 Upper Little Tennessee (06010202)+, Lower Little Tennessee (06010204)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Mesic forest, often under leaf litter, logs, or mossy rocks. Terrestrial breeder.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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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
Date: 10Sep2004
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: 18Apr2013
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 21Nov2001

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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  • Ash, A. N. 1997. Disappearance and return of plethodontid salamanders to clearcut plots in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Conservation Biology 11:983-989.

  • Ash, A. N., and K. H. Pollock. 1999. Clearcuts, salamanders, and field studies. Conservation Biology 13:206-208.

  • Beamer, D. A., and M. J. Lannoo. 2005. Plethodon cheoah Highton and Peabody, 2000. Cheoah Bald salamander. Pages 794-795 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.

  • Highton, R. 1970. Evolutionary interactions between species of North American salamanders of the genus Plethodon. Part 1. Genetic and ecological relationships of Plethodon jordani and P. glutinosus in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Evolutionary Biology 4:211-241.

  • Highton, R. 2005. Declines of eastern North American woodland salamanders (Plethodon). Pages 34-46 in M. Lannoo, editor. Amphibian declines: the conservation status of United States species. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  • Highton, R., and R. B. Peabody. 2000. Geographic protein variation and speciation in salamanders of the Plethodon jordani and Plethodon glutinosus complexes in the southern Appalachian Mountains with the description of four new species. Pages 31-93 in R. C. Bruce, R. G. Jaeger, and L. D. Houck, editors. The biology of plethodontid salamanders. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York. xiii + 485 pp.

  • Mahoney, M. J. 2001. Molecular systematics of Plethodon and Aneides (Caudata: Plethodontini): phylogenetic analysis of an old and rapid radiation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 18:174-188.

  • Petranka, J. W. 1999. Recovery of salamanders after clearcutting in the southern Appalachians: a critique of Ash's estimates. Conservation Biology 13:203-205.

  • Petranka, J. W., M. E. Eldridge, and K. E. Haley. 1993. Effects of timber harvesting on southern Appalachian salamanders. Conservation Biology 7(2):363-370.

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