Plethodon glutinosus - (Green, 1818)
Slimy Salamander
Other English Common Names: Northern Slimy Salamander, slimy salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Plethodon glutinosus (Green, 1818) (TSN 173650)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103372
Element Code: AAAAD12070
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: Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
Concept Reference Code: B98PET01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Plethodon glutinosus
Taxonomic Comments: Highton et al. (1989) regarded P. glutinosus (sensu lato) as a complex of multiple species, most of which can be recognized only by biochemical characteristics (allele frequencies). Taxa formerly included in P. glutinosus and recognized as distinct species by Highton et al. (1989) include: P. teyahalee, P. chattahoochee, P. chlorobryonis, P. variolatus, P. ocmulgee, P. kiamichi, P. mississippi, P. kisatchie, P. sequoyah, P. grobmani, P. cylindraceus, P. albagula, P. savannah, P. aureolus, and P. kentucki. Some salamander taxonomists question the practice of recognizing species that are distinguished only by differences in allele frequencies, particularly in the absence of direct information on reproductive isolation (Wake, in Highton et al. 1989; Frost and Hillis 1990).

Petranka (1998) regarded P. aureolus, P. kentucki, and P. teyahalee (as P. oconaluftee) as distinct species, but he regarded P. chattahoochee, P. chlorobryonis, P. variolatus, P. ocmulgee, P. kiamichi, P. mississippi, P. kisatchie, P. sequoyah, P. grobmani, P. cylindraceus, P. albagula, and P. savannah as conspecific with (and junior synonyms of) P. glutinosus. Petranka felt that the split of P. glutinosus into multiple species was premature because of the lack of detailed information on genetic interactions at contact zones between the nominal taxa.

Carr (1996) examined morphological variation in members of the P. glutinosus complex. About 75% of the variation among species was explained by overall body size. Morphological variation appeared to be influenced more by physiographic province than by genetic similarity. Carr found two major morphological groups: a group of small-bodied species occurring primarily in the Coastal Plain physiographic province and a group of large-bodied species occurring outside the Coastal Plain. Plethodon aureolus, from the mountains of Tennessee, was the sole exception to this pattern (clustered with Coastal Plain group). Plethodon kentucki, from the Cumberland Plateau, was morphologically distinctive and did not cluster with either group.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Sep2007
Global Status Last Changed: 31Jan2000
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range in the eastern U.S.; taxonomic scope of the species is debatable, but rank is G5 even with the most restrictive application of the name P. glutinosus.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Nov1996)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S5), Arkansas (S5), Connecticut (S2), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S4), Maryland (S5), Mississippi (SNR), Missouri (S5), New Hampshire (SH), New Jersey (S5), New York (S5), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S4?), Pennsylvania (S5), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S5), Texas (SNR), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S5)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Plethodon glutinosus complex: southern New Hampshire (disjunct), western Connecticut, and New York south to central Florida, west to Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and south-central Texas (disjunct) (Petranka 1998).

Plethodon glutinosus sensu Highton et al. (1989): northeastern United States to central Illinois, south to central Alabama, central Georgia, western Virginia, northern Maryland, and central New Jersey.

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species, whether defined in the broad sense (e.g., Petranka 1998) or more narrowly (e.g., sensu Highton et al. 1989), is represented by many and/or large occurrences throughout most of the range.

Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Likely many occurrences have good viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Intensive harvest of mature forest greatly reduces salamander density in the logged area; population recovery occurs slowly (Herbeck and Larsen 1999). However, logging does not constitute a major threat to the security of the global population.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Likely stable in extent of occurrence and probably stable to slightly declining in population size, area of occupancy, and number/condition of occurrences. In the southern Appalachians, populations fluctuated over a 20-year period (early 1970s to early 1990s), with no apparent long-term trend (Hairston and Wiley 1993).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, probably less than 25% decline in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Plethodon glutinosus complex: southern New Hampshire (disjunct), western Connecticut, and New York south to central Florida, west to Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and south-central Texas (disjunct) (Petranka 1998).

Plethodon glutinosus sensu Highton et al. (1989): northeastern United States to central Illinois, south to central Alabama, central Georgia, western Virginia, northern Maryland, and central New Jersey.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CT, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV

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: NatureServe, 2005


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Fairfield (09001), Litchfield (09005)
NH Cheshire (33005)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Contoocook (01070003)+*, Housatonic (01100005)+, Saugatuck (01100006)+
02 Lower Hudson (02030101)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Plethodon glutinosus complex: Lays up to about 3 dozen eggs in late spring in north, August-October in south. Larval stage passed in egg with female in attendance. Hatching occurs in late summer in north, in fall or winter in south (e.g., Camp and Jensen, 2004, Herpetol. Rev. 35:156). Breeding tends to be biennial in north and at higher elevations, annual in south and low elevations. Sexually mature in 2 years in the southern part of the range, 4 years in north (pertains to the P. glutinosus group as a whole).
Ecology Comments: Density was estimated at 0.23/sq m in the Great Smoky Mountains (see Petranka et al. 1993). Based on removal sampling in 30 x 30 m plots in North Carolina, Petranka and Starnes (2001) estimated minimum density at 690 individuals per hectare.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Wooded slopes, ravines, floodplains, shalebanks, and cave entrances; most often in hardwood forest, sometimes in pinelands. Generally under or in rotting logs, stumps, or leaf litter, or under rocks, during the day. Goes underground during dry or freezing weather. Eggs are laid in rotting logs, underground, or in rock crevices.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats a wide variety of small terrestrial invertebrates (e.g., mites, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, earthworms, insects, and snails (Green and Pauley 1987).
Adult Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Inactive during freezing weather and dry spells. Often active at night; may be active diurnally in wet weather. Southern populations active throughout the year.
Length: 21 centimeters
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: 10Sep2007
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 25Apr2005
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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  • Barbour, R. W. 1971. Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky. Univ. Press of Kentucky, Lexington. x + 334 pp.

  • Bishop, S.C. 1941. The salamanders of New York. New York State Museum Bulletin No. 324. Albany, NY.

  • 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.

  • Carr, D. E. 1996. Morphological variation among species and populations of salamanders in the Plethodon glutinosus complex. Herpetologica 52:56-65.

  • 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.

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  • DEGRAFF, R.M. AND D.D.RUDIS. 1983. AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF NEW ENGLAND. HABITATS AND NATURAL HISTORY. UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS PRESS. 83PP.

  • DeGraaf, R. M., and D. D. Rudis. 1983a. Amphibians and reptiles of New England. Habitats and natural history. Univ. Massachusetts Press. vii + 83 pp.

  • DeGraaf, R.M. and D.D. Rudis. 1981. Forest habitat for reptiles and amphibians of the northeast. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Eastern Region, Milwaukee, WI. 239 pp.

  • Ewert, Michael A., et. al. 1992. Field Survey of Amphibians and Reptiles of the Hoosier National Forest First Year Report. Report for the USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region, Hoosier National Forest, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife.

  • 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., and D. M. Hillis. 1990. Species in concept and practice: herpetological applications. Herpetologica 46:87-104.

  • Green, N. B., and T. K. Pauley. 1987. Amphibians and reptiles in West Virginia. University of Pittsburg Press, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. xi + 241 pp.

  • Green, N.B. and Parley, T.K. 1987. Amphibians and Reptilesin West Virginia.

  • HIGHTON, R. 1956. THE LIFE HISTORY OF THE SALAMANDER, PLETHODON GLUTINOSUS, IN FLORIDA. COPEIA, 1956:75-93.

  • Hairston, N. G., Sr., and R. H. Wiley. 1993. No decline in salamander (Amphibia: Caudata) populations: a twenty-year study in the southern Appalachians. Brimleyana 18:59-64.

  • Hairston, N.G., Sr., Wiley, R.H., Smith, C.K., and Kneidel, K.A. 1992. The dynamics of two hybrid zones in Appalachian salamanders of the genus Plethodon. Evolution 46:930-938.

  • Herbeck, L. A., and D. R. Larsen. 1999. Plethodontid salamander response to silvicultural practices in Missouri Ozark forests. Conservation Biology 13:623-632.

  • Highton, R. 1983 [1984]. A new species of woodland salamanders of the Plethodon glutinosus group from the southern Appalachian Mountains. Brimleyana 9:1-20.

  • Highton, R. 1987. Plethodon teyahalee. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 401:1-2.

  • Highton, R., G.C. Maha, and L.R. Maxson. 1989. Biochemical evolution in the slimy salamanders of the Plethodon glutinosus complex in the eastern United States. Illinois Biological Monographs 57:1-153.

  • Highton, R., and J. R. MacGregor. 1983. Plethodon kentucki Mittleman: a valid species of Cumberland Plateau woodland salamander. Herpetologica 39:189-200.

  • Jackson, J., et.al. 1996. The Herptofauna of the Brock-Sampson Nature Preserve Located in Floyd County, Indiana. 12 pages.

  • Johnson, T.R. 1977. The Amphibians of Missouri. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Public Education Series 6: ix + 134 pp.

  • MATTHEWS, R. C. AND A. C. ECHERNACHT. 1984. HERPETOFAUNA OF THE SPRUCE-FIR ECOSYSTEM IN THE SOUTHERN APPLACHIAN MOUNTAIN REGION...IN WHITE, P. S. (ED) THE S. APPLACHAIN SPRUCE-FIR ECOSYSTEM:ITS BIOLOGY AND THREATS. US NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, RESEARCH/RESOURCE MGT REPORT SER-71.

  • MCCOY CJ 1982 AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES IN PENNSYLVANIA: CHECKLIST, BIBLIOGRAPHY, AND ATLAS OF DISTRIBUTION. SP PUB CARNEGIE MUS NAT HIST, NO 6 PG 1-91,74MAPS

  • Madej, Robert F. 1997. Results of a Population Study of Green Salamanders, Aneides aeneus, in Indiana and a Survey for New Localities. Final Report, Special Projects Program, Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 25 pp.

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  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 1985. Checklist of the amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals of New York State, including their protective status. Nongame Unit. Wildlife Resources Center. Delmar, NY.

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  • 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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