Plethodon nettingi - Green, 1938
Cheat Mountain Salamander
Other English Common Names: Cheat Mountain salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Plethodon nettingi Green, 1938 (TSN 173664)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101589
Element Code: AAAAD12120
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 nettingi
Taxonomic Comments: P. hubrichti and P. shenandoah formerly were included in this species; these were elevated to species status based on moderrate levels of genetic divergence (Highton and Larson 1979). Plethodon nettingi formerly was considered a subspecies of closely related P. richmondi, from which it differs morphologically and electrophoretically.

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: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 03Mar2009
Global Status Last Changed: 25May2007
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Small range restricted to West Virginia; range has been fragmented by habitat destruction and degradation associated with logging, mining, and other human activities; currently stable where habitat is undisturbed.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3 (25May2007)

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 West Virginia (S2)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (18Sep1989)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R5 - Northeast
IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Allegheny Mountains from Cheat Mountain north to Back Allegheny and Cabin mountains, in Grant, Tucker, Randolph, Pocahontas, and Pendleton counties, West Virginia, at elevations of 908-1463 m (Pauley 1993); much of remaining habitat is within Monongahela National Forest (see Green and Pauley [1987] for more specific information). One population extends to below 730 meters (1992 End. Sp. Tech Bull. 17(12):18).

High mountains of east-central West Virginia from Backbone Mountain, Tucker County, in the north to Thorny Flat, Pocahontas County, in the south; generally found above 1,130 meters (3,500 feet) but extends down to 852 meters (2,640 ft) in the northern part of the range (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources web site, 1998).

The entire range encompasses 2,400 square kilometers (935 square miles), within which the species occurs in many disjunct populations (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources web site, 1998).

Area of Occupancy: 26-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Known occupied habitat encompasses less than 10,000 acres.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species has been found at more than 70 sites (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources web site, 2007), but these appear to be very small fragments of once larger populations. Recent surveys yielded some new localities, but the species was absent at some historical sites (USFWS 1990; 1992 End. Sp. Tech. Bull. 17(12):18).

Population Size: 2500 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but probably is at least several thousand. Populations generally are small (a few may include over a thousand individuals).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Populations have been fragmented by habitat modifications such as timbering, mining, recreational development, and road construction. Scientists have speculated that habitat alterations may favor the encroachment of mountain dusky and redback salamanders, which may subsequently out-compete the Cheat Mountain salamander for food and microhabitat (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources web site, 1998). With continued discretion in the management of high-elevation spruce and associated hardwood forests, the future of the Cheat Mountain salamander looks sound (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources web site, 1998).


Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: USFWS (1990) categorized the status as "stable." Annual surveys by Thomas Pauley indicate that numbers appear to be stable except where habitats have been altered (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources web site, 1998).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, uncertain level of 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

Inventory Needs: Determine area occupied at known sites; determine which sets of populations are the largest and most viable.

Protection Needs: Maintain appropriate habitat in occupied sites. Join habitat fragments so populations can merge into larger units (e.g., by planting spruce in areas of unsuitable habitat between close population fragments).

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) Allegheny Mountains from Cheat Mountain north to Back Allegheny and Cabin mountains, in Grant, Tucker, Randolph, Pocahontas, and Pendleton counties, West Virginia, at elevations of 908-1463 m (Pauley 1993); much of remaining habitat is within Monongahela National Forest (see Green and Pauley [1987] for more specific information). One population extends to below 730 meters (1992 End. Sp. Tech Bull. 17(12):18).

High mountains of east-central West Virginia from Backbone Mountain, Tucker County, in the north to Thorny Flat, Pocahontas County, in the south; generally found above 1,130 meters (3,500 feet) but extends down to 852 meters (2,640 ft) in the northern part of the range (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources web site, 1998).

The entire range encompasses 2,400 square kilometers (935 square miles), within which the species occurs in many disjunct populations (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources web site, 1998).

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 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: IUCN, Conservation International, NatureServe, and collaborators, 2004


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
WV Grant (54023), Pendleton (54071), Pocahontas (54075), Randolph (54083), Tucker (54093)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 South Branch Potomac (02070001)+
05 Tygart Valley (05020001)+, Cheat (05020004)+, Greenbrier (05050003)+, Elk (05050007)+
+ 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: Females attending small clusters of eggs have been found from late April through early September (Bishop 1943, Brooks 1948, Green and Pauley 1987). Larval stage is passed in egg. Hatching occurs in August-September.
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Primarily in red spruce-yellow birch or spruce-dominated forests; occasionaly collected in mixed deciduous hardwoods (Brooks 1945, 1948; Clovis 1979; Green and Pauley 1987). Bryophytes and downed logs are usually common. Occurs under rocks and in or under logs during day; sometimes among wet leaves. Active on forest floor at night; may climb lower portions of tree trunks (Brooks 1945, 1948; Green and Pauley 1987). Eggs have been found in and under rotting logs, and under rocks (Brooks 1948, Green and Pauley 1987).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats various small terrestrial invertebrates (e.g., mites, springtails, beetles, flies, ants) (Green and Pauley 1987).
Adult Phenology: Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Active primarily from April through October (Pauley, pers. comm. to Petranka 1998). Activity may occur during wet or dry weather, but this salamander is most active at night in humid weather (Green and Pauley 1987).
Length: 12 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: One attempt at translocation to unoccupied habitat failed (53 FR 37816).
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: 04Apr2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Qureshi, B., and G. Hammerson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 15Nov2000
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.

  • Bishop, S. C. 1943. Handbook of salamanders. Comstock Publishing Company, Inc., Ithaca, New York. xiv + 555 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.

  • Brooks, M. 1945. Notes on amphibians from Bickle's Knob, West Virginia. Copeia 1945:231.

  • Brooks, M. 1948. Notes on the Cheat Mountain salamander. Copeia 1948:239-244.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 1986. Plethodon nettingi. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 383:1-2.

  • Highton, R., and A. Larson. 1979. The genetic relation- ships of the salamanders of the genus Plethodon. Systematic Zoology 28:579-599.

  • 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.

  • Martof, B. S., W. M. Palmer, J. R. Bailey, and J. R. Harrison, III. 1980. Amphibians and reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 264 pp.

  • NatureServe. Central Databases. Arlington, Virginia. U.S.A. Online. Available: http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/

  • Pauley, T. 1986. Unpublished information.

  • Pauley, T. K. 1985. Distribution and status of the Cheat Mountain salamander. Status survey report submitted to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dec. 1985 and Jan. 1986.

  • Pauley, T. K. 1993. Amphibians and reptiles of the upland forests. Pages 179-196 in S. L. Stephenson, editor. Upland forests of West Virginia. McClain Printing, Parsons, West Virginia.

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

  • STEVENS, K. 1992. SCIENTIFIC COLLECTING PERMIT REPORT.

  • STIHLER, C. 1992. MAPS.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1989d. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; determination of threatened status for the Cheat Mountain salamander and endangered status for the Shenandoah salamander. Federal Register 54(159):34464.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1990. Endangered and threatened species recovery program: report to Congress. 406 pp.

  • U89ARR01WVUS - Created by EO conversion

  • U94PAU01WVUS - Created by EO conversion

  • U97PAU01WVUS - Created by EO conversion

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