- Highton, 1999
Northern Ravine Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s):
Plethodon electromorphus Highton, 1999 (TSN 668319)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104445
Element Code: AAAAD12390
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference: Highton, R. 1999. Geographic protein variation and speciation in the salamanders of the Plethodon cinereus group with the description of two new species. Herpetologica 55:43-90.
Concept Reference Code: A99HIG01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Plethodon electromorphus
Taxonomic Comments: This salamander was included in P. cinereus until 1938, when it became part of the newly described species P. richmondi. Highton (1999) described Plethodon electromorphus as distinct from Plethodon richmondi on the basis of protein characteristics detectable by eletrophoresis; P. electromorphus and P. richmondi do not share common alleles at one of 24 genetic loci and have a fixed difference at another locus in all but one population (Highton 1999). These two salamanders hybridize in a narrow zone of contact, with low introgression (Highton 1999). Plethodon richmondi and P. cinereus hybridize on Iron and Holston Mountain, Tennessee (Thurow 1969). Some taxonomists would regard P. electromorphus as questionably valid as a species distinct from P. richmondi.
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: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 27Mar2002
Global Status Last Changed: 01Nov2001
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Common and widely distributed in small range in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5
U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Indiana (S4), Kentucky (S4), Ohio (SNR), Pennsylvania (S3), West Virginia (S5)
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors
Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Southeastern Indiana, Ohio (except northwestern part of the state), northern Kentucky, southwestern Pennsylvania, and northwestern West Virginia (Highton 1999, Regester 2000).
Number of Occurrences:
Number of Occurrences Comments: Represented by many and/or large occurrences throughout most of the range; well over 100 widely distributed collection sites (e.g., Pfingsten and Downs 1989, Regester 2000).
Population Size: 10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Clearly more than 10,000 individuals.
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend is uncertain but probably stable.
Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, unknown trend in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.
Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information
(20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles))
Southeastern Indiana, Ohio (except northwestern part of the state), northern Kentucky, southwestern Pennsylvania, and northwestern West Virginia (Highton 1999, Regester 2000).
U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Endemism: endemic to a single nation
U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
IN, KY, OH, PA, 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)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed
||Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)+*,
Upper White (05120201)+,
Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A small salamander.
Reproduction Comments: Lays cluster of about 6 eggs in spring. Larval stage passed in egg. Hatching occurs in August-September.
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Forest - Hardwood, Woodland - Hardwood
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Terrestrial. Found under logs, stumps, rocks, or leaf litter on moist wooded slopes of valleys and ravines; high densities on wooded talus; sometimes along stream margins; rarely on dry ridge crests, hilltops, or valley floors (Regester 2000). Generally underground in mid-winter and summer. Lays eggs under rocks or in underground cavity.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats various small terrestrial invertebrates.
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Most active in spring and fall.
Length: 14 centimeters
Not yet assessed
Not yet assessed
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: 27Mar2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 13Dec2000
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).
- Barbour, R. W. 1971. Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky. Univ. Press of Kentucky, Lexington. x + 334 pp.
- Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 719 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.
- Green, N. B., and T. K. Pauley. 1987. Amphibians and reptiles in West Virginia. University of Pittsburg Press, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. xi + 241 pp.
- Highton, R. 1999. Geographic protein variation and speciation in the salamanders of the Plethodon cinereus group with the description of two new species. Herpetologica 55:43-90.
- Highton, R. 1999. Hybridization in the contact zone between PLETHODON RICHMONDI and PLETHODON ELECTROMORPHUS in northern Kentucky. Herpetologica 55:91-105.
- 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. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
- Regester, K.J. 2000. Plethodon electromorphus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 706:1-3.
Use Guidelines & Citation
Use Guidelines and Citation
The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.
Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org
were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of October 2015.
Note: This report was printed on
Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and
all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company
names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.
Copyright © 2015 NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Dr., 7th Floor, Arlington Virginia 22203, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved.
Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary
notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following
citation should be used in any published materials which reference the
on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from
this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2015. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia.
Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:
Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.
Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."
Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.
Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."
Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.
Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."
NOTE: Full metadata
for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
Warranty Disclaimer: All
documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents
which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without
warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific
data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard
to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are
referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all
implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular
purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about
the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other
documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall
NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential
damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with
the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided
by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked
to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update
or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without
notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information
contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually
being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a
year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and
informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed
for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies.
If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate
state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted
for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit
- The above copyright notice
must appear in all copies;
- Any use of the documents available
from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance
for commercial purposes;
- Some data may be downloaded
to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data
should still be referenced using the citation above;
- No graphics available from
this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying
text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed
as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right
under any trademark of NatureServe. No
trademark owned by NatureServe may be used
in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents
delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above,
nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or
right under any NatureServe copyright.
encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions
that you find in the data through (see Contact
Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall
quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.