Plethodon stormi Highton & Brame, 1965
Siskiyou Mountains salamander
© 2019 Spencer Riffle (1 of 24)
Sexual dimorphism is apparent in the number of maxillary and pre-maxillary teeth, with males having an average of 47.4 maxillary and pre-maxillary teeth, and females averaging 53.9. Also, males have mental glands, and, sometimes, poorly developed vent lobes (Brodie 1973).
P. elongatus differs from P. stormi in having a reddish dorsal stripe and sparse or absent dorsal iridophore flecking. P. elongatus also has shorter legs, fewer teeth, and a narrower, longer head (Brodie 1971), as well as more intercostal folds between adpressed limbs (5-6 for P. elongatus, 4-5 for P. stormi, and 2.5-3.5 for P. asupak) (Mead et al. 2005). P. asupak is more robust than either P. elongatus or P. stormi, with a wider head and longer limbs (Mead et al. 2005).
Individuals from southern Oregon and northern California are virtually identical in coloration and patterning, but local populations sometimes vary in the modal number of costal grooves (Brodie 1970; Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: California, Oregon
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The most heightened activity on the surface occurs in March-April and September to early November. In summer, they remain below ground during the day, but move to surface sites at night to feed on invertebrates. During dry weather, they will stay at the entrance of an underground retreat, darting forward regularly to catch prey (Nussbaum et al. 1983). In wet weather, they will emerge completely, and in conditions of 100% humidity they will move freely on rock surfaces (Palazzo 1994). Their diet includes spiders, psuedoscorpions, ites, ants, collembolans, and beetles (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Trends and Threats
In 1971, P. stormi was named as a rare species by the California Fish and Game Comission, and soon after it was designated as Threatened. Surveys of the Klamath National Forest in the late 1970's detected no salamanders, even in viable habitat. However, dry weather may have been responsible for their absence rather than any permanent population trend. In the spring of 1994, state and federal agents, as well as a private lumber company, started a 2-year study to determine the salamander's range, distribution, and habitat requirements. Additionally, officials at the Rogue River National Forest in Oregon began developing a management plan in 1994 for conservation of P. stormi within the National Forests. Pallazo (1994) suggests that in known P. stormi habitat, restricting logging between July and August, when all the salamanders remain underground, would greatly help conservation. Also, temporary cessation of harvesting would need to occur after rainfall of 1 inch or more, since the salamanders emerge during such moist conditions. Palazzo (1994) stipulates that if continual logging is allowed, the ecological alteration incurred will destroy the salamander's habitat. Welsh et al. (2007) showed that optimal habitat for Plethodon stormi consisted of less disturbed mature to late seral forest with closed canopy, moist and relatively warm microclimates, deep leaf litter, and cobble to boulder-sized rock substrates. Conserving interconnected stands of mature forest across the geographical range of this species would likely best insure its long-term viability (Welsh et al. 2007).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Named in honor of Robert M. Storm, Professor of Zoology at Oregon St. University, who directed the field trip in which the first specimens were found(Brodie 1971).
See another account at californiaherps.com.
Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1969). ''Geographic variation and systematics of the western Plethodon.'' Dissertation, Oregon State University.
Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1970). "Western salamanders of the genus Plethodon: Systematics and geographic variation." Herpetologica, 26(4), 468-516.
Brodie, E. D., Jr. (1971). ''Plethodon stormi Highton and Brame. Siskiyou Mountains Salamander.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 103.1-103.2.
Highton, R., and Larson, A. (1979). "The genetic relationships of the salamanders of the genus Plethodon." Systematic Zoology, 28, 579-599.
Mead, L. S., Clayton, D. R., Nauman, R. S., Olson, D. H., and Pfrender, M. E. (2005). ''Newly discovered populations of salamanders from Siskiyou County California represent a species distinct from Plethodon stormi.'' , 61, 158-177.
Nussbaum, R. A., Brodie, E. D., Jr., and Storm, R. M. (1983). Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. University of Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho.
Palazzo, T. L. (1994). ''Siskiyou Mountains Salamander.'' Life on the edge: A guide to California's endangered natural resources. Volume I: Wildlife. C. G. Thelander, eds., Biosystems Books, Santa Cruz, California., 246-247.
Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. and London.
Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
Storm, R. M. (1966). Agricultural Experiments Station Special Report 206, Volume II: Amphibians. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
Van Denburgh, J. (1916). ''Four species of salamanders new to the state of California, with a description of Plethodon elongatus, a new species, and notes on other salamanders.'' Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 6(7), 215-221.
Welsh, H. H., Jr., Stauffer, H., Clayton, D. R., and Ollivier, L. M. (2007). ''Strategies for modeling habitat relationships of uncommon species: an example using the Siskiyou Mountains Salamander (Plethodon stormi).'' Northwest Science, 81, 15-36.
Originally submitted by: John Romansic (first posted 1999-03-22)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2009-05-01)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2009 Plethodon stormi: Siskiyou Mountains salamander <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/4155> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jan 30, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 30 Jan 2023.
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