Plethodon neomexicanus - Stebbins and Riemer, 1950
Jemez Mountains Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Plethodon neomexicanus Stebbins and Riemer, 1950 (TSN 173663)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101803
Element Code: AAAAD12110
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: 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: Plethodon neomexicanus
Taxonomic Comments: 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: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 22Aug2007
Global Status Last Changed: 09Nov2001
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Small distribution in one mountain range in New Mexico; may be declining in area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size, but trends are difficult to determine; vulnerable to habitat loss/degradation from wildfires, logging, and road construction.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2 (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 New Mexico (S2)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (10Sep2013)
IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 250-1000 square km (about 100-400 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The range is restricted to the Jemez Mountains in Sandoval, Los Alamos, and Rio Arriba counties, New Mexico, at elevations of 7,185-11,256 feet (2,190-3,432 meters) (Degenhardt et al. 1996, Petranka 1998, Stebbins 2003, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 2006).

Extent of occurrence is approximately 971 square kilometers (Painter 2005).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by several distinct occurrences (subpopulations). It exists as fragmented populations in "six major zones of distribution" (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish).

Population Size: 10,000 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 10,000. This salamander is generally rare and localized but numerous in some restricted localities where essential microhabitat exists (Degenhardt et al. 1996).

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Due to the restricted range, this species is exceptionally vulnerable to habitat destruction (New Mexico Department of Fish and Game 1985, Degenhardt et al. 1996).

Current threats include the habitat degrading effects of wildfires, post-fire management (seeding, mulching), and road construction in known occupied habitat (New Mexico Hwy 126) (Ramotnik and Scott 1988, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 2006). Threats posed by logging have been reduced in recent years as a result of reduction in timber harvest in the salamander's habitat (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 2006). Disease (e.g., chytridiomycosis) does not currently appear to pose a major threat (Cummer 2006).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in stable in extent of occurrence; unknown trend in area of occupancy, population size, and number/condition of occurrences.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, possibly greater than 25% decline in population size, area of occupancy, and number/condition of occurrences (subpopulations). This secretive species is not easy to monitor; trends are difficult to determine.

The species probably was formerly more abundant in areas that have been subjected to heavy collecting and clearcut logging (Williams 1972).

This species was found at only 19 (38%) of 50 historically occupied sites surveyed during 2001-2003 (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 2006). Based on numerous recent surveys, the species appears to be extirpated at the type locality where numerous early investigators found the species to be very abundant. Additionally, Cummer et al. (2003, 2004) reported the absence of P. neomexicanus at a site on the Valles Caldera National Preserve where the species was once abundant (Whitford and Ludwig 1976).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Narrow to moderate.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: Implementation of the Jemez Mountains Salamander Management Plan will provide needed protection of habitat.

Distribution
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Global Range: (250-1000 square km (about 100-400 square miles)) The range is restricted to the Jemez Mountains in Sandoval, Los Alamos, and Rio Arriba counties, New Mexico, at elevations of 7,185-11,256 feet (2,190-3,432 meters) (Degenhardt et al. 1996, Petranka 1998, Stebbins 2003, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 2006).

Extent of occurrence is approximately 971 square kilometers (Painter 2005).

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 state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States NM

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)
NM Los Alamos (35028), Rio Arriba (35039), Sandoval (35043)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
13 Upper Rio Grande (13020101)+, Rio Chama (13020102)+, Rio Grande-Santa Fe (13020201)+, Jemez (13020202)+, Rio Puerco (13020204)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small lungless salamander.
Reproduction Comments: Lays a clutch of about 8 eggs between mid-August and spring. There is no aquatic larval stage. Females reach sexual maturity in three years and lay eggs every other year (Behler and King 1979).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Forest - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: This species occurs in mixed conifer habitat with abundant rotted logs and surface rocks; vegetation is dominated by Douglas-fir, blue spruce, Engelmann spruce, ponderosa pine, and white fir, with occasional aspen, Rocky Mountain maple, New Mexico locust, oceanspray, and various shrubby oaks (Williams 1973, Degenhardt et al. 1996, Stebbins 2003, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 2006). Salamanders are most often encountered under and inside well-rotted Douglas-fir logs or under rocks (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 2006). Terrestrial breeder.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Feeds on a variety of invertebrates including ants, beetle and moth larvae, spiders, and small snails.
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Remains below the surface throughout most of the year. May be active on the surface from June-August, during summer rains (Stebbins 1985). Forages at night.
Length: 14 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: The New Mexico Endemic Salamander Team completed the Jemez Mountains Salamander Management Plan, which was approved and signed by NMDGF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) during January 2000. It is designed to provide guidance for management of the Jemez Mountains salamander on USFS lands.
Biological Research Needs: An effective monitoring protocol is needed.
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: 22Aug2007
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and R. Jennings
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 21Nov1995
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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Cummer, M. R. 2006. Prevalence of amphibian disease in the Jemez Mountains salamander (Plethodon neomexicanus) and other sympatric amphibians in the Jemez Mountains of northcentral New Mexico. Unpublished report to New Mexico Dept. Game and Fish, Santa Fe, NM. 18 pp.

  • Cummer, M. R., B. L. Christman, and M. A. Wright. 2003. Investigations of the status and distribution of amphibians and reptiles on the Valles Caldera National Preserve, Sandoval County, New Mexico 2002. Unpublished report submitted to Valles Caldera Trust, Los Alamaos, NM. 13 pp. + 3 appendices.

  • Cummer, M. R., B. L. Christman, and M. A. Wright. 2004. Investigations of the status and distribution of amphibians and reptiles on the Valles Caldera National Preserve, Sandoval County, New Mexico 2003. Unpublished report submitted to Valles Caldera Trust, Los Alamos, NM.

  • Degenhardt, W. G., C. W. Painter, and A. H. Price. 1996. Amphibians and reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. xix + 431 pp.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. 1985. Handbook of species endangered in New Mexico.

  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. 1994. Endangered Species of New Mexico -- 1994 Biennial Review and Recommendations. Authority: New Mexico Wildlife Conservation Act (NMSA 17-2-37, 1978).

  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. 2000. Conservation Agreement for the Jemez Mountains Salamander Between and Among New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, USDA Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Signed by Eleanor S. Towns (USFS), Nancy Kaufman (USFWS), and Jerry Maracchini (NMDGF), January 2000.

  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. 2006. Threatened and endangered species of New Mexico. 2006 biennial review. Conservation Services Division.

  • Painter, C. W. 2005. Plethodon neomexicanus. Pages 828-829 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.

  • Ramotnik, C. A., and N. J. Scott. 1988. Habitat requirements of New Mexico's endangered salamanders. Pages 54-63 in R.C. Szaro, et al., technical coordinators. 1988. Management of amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals in North America. USDA For. Serv., Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-166. 458 pp.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 1985a. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. xiv + 336 pp.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 2003. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

  • Whitford, W. G., and J. Ludwig. 1976. The biota of the Baca Geothermal Site. Whitford Ecological Consultants, Las cruces, New Mexico.

  • Williams, S. R. 1972. The Jemez Mountains salamander, Plethodon neomexicanus. Pages 188-127 in Symposium on rare and endangered wildlife of the southwestern United States. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • Williams, S.R. 1973c. Plethodon neomexicanus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles 131:1-2.

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