AmphibiaWeb - Plethodon meridianus
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(Translations may not be accurate.)

Plethodon meridianus Highton & Peabody, 2000
Southern Gray-cheeked Salamander, South Mountain Graycheek Salamander
Subgenus: Plethodon
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Plethodontinae
genus: Plethodon
Species Description:

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. Bruce, R. C., R. G. Jaeger, and L. D. Houck eds., The Biology of Plethodontid Salamanders: 31–93. New York, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.


© 2013 John P. Clare (1 of 10)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Vulnerable (VU)
NatureServe Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
CITES No CITES Listing
National Status None
Regional Status None
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .

   

 

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Description

Plethodon meridianus is a medium salamander that has a snout-vent length ranging from 50 - 79 mm. The tail is about half the total body length, and there are about 14 lateral costal grooves (Highton and Peabody 2000; Brimley 1912).

This species can be differentiated from most other species in its genus by its lack of red, white, or yellow spotting and lack of brassy dorsal flecking. It can be differentiated from Plethodon montanus and northern populations of P. metcalfi by its darker ventral side and large size. There are no morphological differences between P. meridianus and Plethodon amplus and southern populations of P. metcalfi (Highton and Peabody 2000).

In life, Plethodon meridianus has a dark bluish-gray dorsal side and a medium gray ventral side (Highton and Peabody 2000). The two colors form a lateral line where they meet and there is also no red, white, or yellow coloring as well as brassy dorsal flecking (Brimley 1912; Highton and Peabody 2000).

Females are in general larger than the males of this species. There is also variation in the presence of brassy flecking on their eyelids and in their irises (Highton and Peabody 2000).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States

U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: North Carolina

 

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Plethodon meridianus can be found in the South Mountains in Burke, Cleveland, and Rutherford counties in the Piedmont Province of North Carolina in the United States of America. Its elevation ranges from 543 - 823 meters above sea level (Highton and Peabody 2000).

This species lives in mesic forests under leaf litter or logs. It has been shown to tolerate disturbances, as much of its range is in second-growth forests (IUCN 2022).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Females mate every other year and oviposit underground in late summer or early fall. The eggs hatch 2 - 3 months later (Petranka 1998).

Larva

As of 2023, no nests have been observed for this species or genus, however P. meridianus is direct developing (Petranka 1998).

Trends and Threats

Logging has depleted populations of P. meridianus in the past and the time of recovery is at least a few decades. This species is tolerant of distrubance to a degree, however, as much of its range is in secondary growth forests (IUCN 2022).

While as of 2023, the salamander chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, has not been introduced to the Americas, it poses a large threat to the genus as a whole and would be devastating if introduced (IUCN 2022).

Comments

Plethodon meridianus was classified as a separate species from P. metcalfi based on allozyme data and was later confirmed as a separate species based on a Bayesian analysis of mtDNA and nDNA (Highton and Peabody 2000; Fisher-Reid and Weins 2011, please see the latter citation for details on the genetic sampling). The Bayesian analysis showed that it is sister to P. amplus, and the two form a clade that is sister to P. montanus (Fisher-Reid and Weins 2011).

The species epithet, “meridianus”, refers to its southern distribution relative to the genus and that it is endemic to the South Mountains (Highton and Peabody 2000).

References

Arnold, S.J. (1976). Sexual Behavior, Sexual Interference and Sexual Defense in the Salamanders Ambystoma maculatum, Ambystoma tigrinum and Plethodon jordani. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 42: 247-300. [link]

Brimley, C. S. (1912). Notes on the salamanders of the North Carolina mountains, with descriptions of two new forms. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 25: 135–140. [link]

Fisher-Reid, M. Caitlin. (2011). What are the consequences of combining nuclear and mitochondrial data for phylogenetic analysis? Lessons from Plethodon salamanders and 13 other vertebrate clades. BMC evolutionary biology. 11. 300. 10.1186/1471-2148-11-300. [link]

Highton, R., Peabody, R. B. (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. Bruce, R. C., R. G. Jaeger, and L. D. Houck eds., The Biology of Plethodontid Salamanders: 31–93. New York, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. [link]

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. (2022). Plethodon meridianus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T59347A118995365. Accessed on 27 April 2023.

Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.[link]



Originally submitted by: Nessa Kmetec (2023-06-01)
Description by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-06-01)
Distribution by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-06-01)
Life history by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-06-01)
Larva by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-06-01)
Trends and threats by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-06-01)
Comments by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-06-01)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2023-06-01)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Plethodon meridianus: Southern Gray-cheeked Salamander <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/5844> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Feb 25, 2024.



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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 25 Feb 2024.

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