Plethodon virginia - Highton, 1999
Shenandoah Mountain Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Plethodon virginia Highton, 1999 (TSN 668325)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104446
Element Code: AAAAD12400
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. 1999a. 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 virginia
Taxonomic Comments: Plethodon virginia formerly was included in P. hoffmani, from which it differs in protein characteristics detectable by electrophoresis. Plethodon hoffmani and P. virginia usually do not share common alleles at four of 24 genetic loci (Highton 1999). However, these two species hybridize in relatively narrow zones at both the northern and southern ends of the range of P. virginia (Highton 1999). Highton (2009) further clarified the relationships between these two species and concluded that they warrant recognition as distinct species.

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: 18Mar2010
Global Status Last Changed: 28Jan2000
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Small range in eastern West Virginia and adjacent northwestern Virginia; known from at least two dozen collection sites; hybridizes with P. HOFFMANI at the northern and southern ends of the range of P. VIRGINIA.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3 (28Jan2000)

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 Virginia (S2), West Virginia (S2)

Other Statuses

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: Valley and Ridge physiographic province in eastern West Virginia and adjacent northwestern Virginia (see Highton 1999 for further details).

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: Highton (1999) mapped 28 collection sites, plus 6 sites that yielded hybrids (with P. hoffmani).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) Valley and Ridge physiographic province in eastern West Virginia and adjacent northwestern Virginia (see Highton 1999 for further details).

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

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small salamander.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood, Woodland - Hardwood
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Often under objects in wooded areas. Lays eggs in moist cavity.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly small terrestrial invertebrates.
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Length: 14 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: 27Mar2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 28Jan2000
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.

  • 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 hoffmani. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 392:1-2.

  • 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(1):43-90.

  • Highton, R. 1999a. 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. 2009. Microgeographic protein and morphological variation in the woodland salamanders Plethodon hoffmani and Plethodon virginia, and hybridization between the two species. Pages 59-100 in S. M. Roble and J. C. Mitchell (eds.).A Lifetime of Contributions to Myriapodology and the Natural History of Virginia: A Festschrift in Honor of Richard L. Hoffman's 80th Birthday. Virginia Museum of Natural History Special Publication No. 16, Martinsville, VA.

  • 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.

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

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