Plethodon savannah Highton, 1989
Savannah Slimy Salamander
|Species Description: Highton, R., G. C. Maha, and L. R. Maxson. 1989. Biochemical evolution in the Slimy Salamanders of the Plethodon glutinosus complex in the eastern United States.. Illinois Biological Monographs 57: 1–153.|
© 2011 Todd Pierson (1 of 2)
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Georgia
Plethodon savannah Highton, 1989
David A. Beamer1
1. Historical versus Current Distribution. Savannah slimy salamanders (Plethodon savannah) are known only from Burke, Jefferson, and Richmond counties in Georgia (Highton, 1989). There is no evidence to suggest that their current distribution differs from their historical distribution.
2. Historical versus Current Abundance. Highton (2003) sampled a population in Richmond County, Georgia, between 1979 and 1988, and again in 1995 under similar conditions using similar effort and found evidence of a precipitous decline. Whether this decline is a true decline or within the range of natural variation will only be known with additional monitoring. A housing development destroyed most of the habitat at the type locality (R. Highton, personal communication).
3. Life History Features. Savannah slimy salamanders were recently described (Highton, 1989). In this time, there has been no published work done on this species. As a portion of his larger research program, R. Highton has collected basic life history and natural history information on Savannah slimy salamanders and has plans to publish these data in a monographic treatment.
A. Breeding. Reproduction is terrestrial.
i. Breeding migrations. Undocumented, but breeding migrations are unknown for any Plethodon species.
ii. Breeding habitat. Unknown.
i. Egg deposition sites. Undocumented.
ii. Clutch size. Unknown.
C. Direct Development.
i. Brood sites. Unknown, but are likely to be the same as egg deposition sites.
ii. Parental care. Unknown, but it is likely that females brood, as with other members of the slimy salamander complex.
D. Juvenile Habitat. Unknown, but as with other Plethodon, is likely to be similar to adult habitat.
E. Adult Habitat. Forest floor habitats are important. Logs and rocks are used as cover objects during daylight hours. Animals are active at night, and more active under moist conditions.
F. Home Range Size. Unknown, but small home ranges are typical for Plethodon species.
G. Territories. At least some members of the Plethodon glutinosus complex aggressively defend territories (Thurow, 1976); it is unknown whether Savannah slimy salamanders establish and defend territories.
H. Aestivation/Avoiding Dessication. Generally unknown, but Savannah slimy salamanders likely avoid desiccating conditions by seeking shelter in underground sites.
I. Seasonal Migrations. Unknown, but vertical migrations from surface sites to underground sites and back again are likely to be important in surviving seasonally variable conditions.
J. Torpor (Hibernation). Generally unknown, but Savannah slimy salamanders likely avoid cold conditions by seeking shelter in underground sites.
K. Interspecific Associations/Exclusions. Undocumented.
L. Age/Size at Reproductive Maturity. Unknown.
M. Longevity. Unknown.
N. Feeding Behavior. Unknown, but as with other Plethodon species, feeding likely takes place at night under moist conditions. Prey items likely include a range of invertebrates, especially insects.
O. Predators. Undocumented, but likely to include forest snakes, birds, and small mammals.
P. Anti-Predator Mechanisms. Nocturnal. Secretive. All members of the genus Plethodon produce noxious skin secretions (Brodie, 1977).
Q. Diseases. Unknown.
R. Parasites. Unknown.
4. Conservation. Savannah slimy salamanders are not protected in Georgia, the only state within their range. Among members of the P. glutinosus complex, Savannah slimy salamanders have one of the smallest distributions. The entire range of this salamander is contained within Burke, Jefferson, and Richmond counties. Within this range, there do not appear to be any federal or state properties that would preserve suitable habitat for these salamanders.
The extremely small distribution and lack of preserved forested habitats are a concern for the conservation of Savannah slimy salamanders. Further field and laboratory work are required to determine the maximum extent of this salamander's range. Only then can an accurate assessment of their conservation status be made.
Acknowledgments. Thanks to Richard Highton, who reviewed this account and gave us the benefit of his insight and experience.
1David A. Beamer
2Michael J. Lannoo
Literature references for Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, edited by Michael Lannoo, are here.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 28 Sep 2023.
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