This species is known from a portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains in south-western North Carolina and south-eastern Tennessee, USA (Conant and Collins 1991; Redmond and Scott 1996; Ryan 1997; USFWS 1999). It is extant in 17 streams (USFWS 1999).
Habitat and Ecology
Its non-breeding habitat is unknown. Adults have been found hiding under objects in or along streams where reproduction and larval development take place. They may be found on roads near creeks on rainy nights, suggesting movement between a terrestrial habitat (possibly forest) and breeding sites along streams. It does not tolerate alterations to stream habitats.
A reliable estimate of population size cannot be made (Bruce and Ryan 1995). It is rare, even where known to be present (Ryan 1997). Richard Bruce (pers. comm., 1998) rated it as the rarest salamander in North America. Natural heritage programs estimated abundance at less than 1,000 individuals in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Dana Soehn pers. comm., 1998) and occupied habitat in North Carolina at 10-15 miles of stream (H. LeGrand pers. comm., 1998). Sever (1983) collected fewer than 50 transformed individuals in more than 10 years of fieldwork. Bruce (1982) collected only five adults during a survey period lasting over a year. A 1994-1995 survey of 63 locations yielded seven transformed individuals and no more than two adults; the remaining observations were of larvae and eggs (Bruce and Ryan 1995). There is no direct evidence of any population declines; no populations are known to have been lost since the species was described (USFWS 1999). It is possibly stable in some areas, but specific range wide information on population trends is not available. One of three populations identified during a 1994-1995 survey appeared to be stable (Bruce and Ryan 1995). The Tennessee Valley and North Carolina populations probably are stable (H. LeGrand and R. Smith pers. comm., 1998).
This species currently appears to be unthreatened. Potential threats include siltation due to logging, road construction for logging activities, urban development, and other activities that would negatively impact water quality (Braswell 1989; H. LeGrand and R. Smith pers. comm., 1998). Due to a widely disjunctive distribution, it is quite unlikely that migration will be sufficient for recolonization of populations that experience declines or local extinctions (Ryan 1998). Reckless sampling and site disruption during spring may cause undue stress to brooding females and result in the abandonment of clutches (Bruce and Ryan 1995).
It occurs in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (USFWS 1999). Most of the North Carolina populations are on Nantahala National Forest lands. E. junaluska is a species of special concern in North Carolina and it is listed as a species in need of management in Tennessee.
Red List Status
Jacobs (1987) found Eurycea junaluska to be genetically similar to E. aquatica and E. cirrigera and questioned the taxonomic status of E. junaluska. Sever (1989) found E. junaluska to be morphologically unique and genetically distinct from all sympatric Eurycea.
Geoffrey Hammerson, Travis Ryan 2004. Eurycea junaluska. In: IUCN 2014