Plethodon shermani - Stejneger, 1906
Red-legged Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Plethodon shermani Stejneger, 1906 (TSN 668323)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100811
Element Code: AAAAD12470
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 shermani
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: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 01Nov2010
Global Status Last Changed: 01Nov2010
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Common in small range in western North Carolina and adjacent Tennessee and Georgia; several geographical isolates; at least somewhat resilient to habitat degradation; no major threats.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3 (01Nov2010)

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 Georgia (S1), North Carolina (S3S4), Tennessee (S2)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: VU - Vulnerable

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 250-5000 square km (about 100-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Standing Indian, Wayah, Tusquitee, and Unicoi isolates of the Plethodon jordani complex, North Carolina and Tennessee; elevational range at least 853-1,494 meters (Highton and Peabody 2000); also recorded in Towns County, Georgia (J. Jensen, pers. comm., 2003).

Area of Occupancy: 26-2,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Highton and Peabody (2000) listed eight locations from which they obtained genetic data sets. At least 18 occurrences exist in North Carolina, and some of these represent multiple discrete sampling points (H. LeGrand, pers. comm., 2010).

Population Size: 10,000 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but likely exceeds 10,000. This species can be extremely abundant in portions of its range (Beamer, pers. comm., 2003; H. LeGrand, pers. comm., 2010).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some (13-40)

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Clearcutting may deplete local populations of some members 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, P. shermani appears to be resilient to habitat degradation; it is presently common in second-growth forests that were at one time severely degraded by feeding activities of hogs (Beamer, pers. comm., 2003; Bishop 1928). Currently, this species faces no known major threats.

Short-term Trend: Unknown

Long-term Trend: Unknown

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (250-5000 square km (about 100-2000 square miles)) Standing Indian, Wayah, Tusquitee, and Unicoi isolates of the Plethodon jordani complex, North Carolina and Tennessee; elevational range at least 853-1,494 meters (Highton and Peabody 2000); also recorded in Towns County, Georgia (J. Jensen, pers. comm., 2003).

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 GA, NC, TN

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)
GA Rabun (13241), Towns (13281)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Tugaloo (03060102)+
+ 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: 01Nov2010
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.

  • Bishop, S. C. 1928. Notes on some amphibians and reptiles from the southeastern states with a description of a new salamander from North Carolina. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 43:153-170.

  • 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., 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.

  • Pope, C. H. 1928. Some Plethodontid Salamanders from North Carolina and Kentucky with the description of a new race of Leurognathus. American Museum Novitates 306: 1-19.

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