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

Plethodon montanus Highton & Peabody, 2000
Northern Gray-cheeked Salamander, Northern 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.


© 2007 Bill Peterman (1 of 20)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
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.
View Bd and Bsal data (9 records).

Description

Plethodon montanus is a north American salamander that ranges in snout-vent length from 45 - 65 mm (Highton and Peabody 2000). The tail length is about half its total body length, and there are about 14 lateral costal grooves (Brimley 1912).

This species differs from most other species in the genus by its lack of red, white, or yellow pigmentation or by its light gray ventral side. However, the northern populations of Plethodon metcalfi look identical to P. montanus while the southern populations have darker ventral sides than P. montanus (Highton and Peabody 2000).

In life, P. montanus has a blueish gray dorsal side and a pale gray ventral side. There’s a lateral line where the two colors meet and they have no colored markings (Brimley 1912). Some individuals have brassy flecks on their eyelids or in their irises (Highton and Peabody 2000).

Females are in general slightly larger than males. There is also slight color variation with brassy flecks on the eyelids or in the 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, Tennessee, Virginia

 

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (9 records).

Plethodon montanus has six isolated populations in the Valley and Ridge Province of Virginia, United States of America, and there are also five isolated populations in the Blue Ridge Province of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee in the United States of America (Highton and Peabody 2000). More specifically, this species is largely restricted to the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains and dwells at elevations of 1,000 to 1,450 meters above sea level. Their preference for high elevations is mainly based on humidity conditions (Chapman 2022).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Plethodon montanus is terrestrial, not aggressive, and does not make breeding migrations. Females breed every other year and courtship displays have been observed in late summer and early fall. Eggs are deposited underground the following spring and hatch that summer, although juveniles stay underground until the next spring (Caruso and Rissler 2019).

Larva

As of 2023, there has been no documentation of nests for this species, however P. montanus is direct developing (Petranka 1998).

Trends and Threats

The main threat to Plethodon montanus is logging, however most of their distribution is in protected lands and they have demonstrated an ability to recover population densities after major impacts (IUCN 2022). The populations at the lower end of their elevation range are also at risk from climate change (Caruso et al. 2019).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.

Comments

Plethodon montanus was classified as a separate species from Plethodon 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, for a complete list of the DNA sequences see Fisher-Reid and Weins 2011). The Bayesian analysis also showed that it is sister to Plethodon amplus and Plethodon meridianus, the two of which form their own clade (Fisher-Reid and Weins 2011).

The species name montanus is Latin for “mountain dweller” and is a reference to its high elevation (Highton and Peabody 2000).

References

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]

Caruso, N. M. and Rissler L. J. (2019). Museum Specimens Reveal Life History Characteristics in Plethodon montanus. Copeia, 107(4), 622-631, [link]

Caruso, N. M., Jacobs, J. F., and Rissler, L. J. (2019). An Experimental Approach to Understanding Elevation Limits in the Northern Gray-Cheeked Salamander, Plethodon montanus. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 14(2), 297-307. [link]

Chapman, T. (2022). Importance of the Microhabitat and Microclimate Conditions in the Northern Gray-cheeked Salamander (Plethodon montanus) Across an Elevation Gradient. (Paper 4146). [Doctoral dissertation, East Tennessee State University]. Electronic Theses and Dissertations. [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., 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. [link]

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. (2022). Plethodon montanus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T59349A196341119. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2022-1.RLTS.T59349A196341119.en. Accessed on 17 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 (2023-05-25)
Description by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-05-25)
Distribution by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-05-25)
Life history by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-05-25)
Larva by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-05-25)
Trends and threats by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-05-25)
Comments by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-05-25)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2023-05-25)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Plethodon montanus: Northern Gray-cheeked Salamander <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/5841> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 20, 2024.



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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 20 Apr 2024.

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