AmphibiaWeb - Plethodon yonahlossee


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Plethodon yonahlossee Dunn, 1917
Yonahlossee Salamander
Subgenus: Plethodon
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Plethodontinae
genus: Plethodon

© 2010 Matthew Niemiller (1 of 33)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
NatureServe Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
National Status None
Regional Status None
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .



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

Plethodon yonahlossee is characterized by its large size and its distinct, rust-colored dorsum. The rust coloration, which can appear in shades of brown to red, is typically spotted in juveniles but continuous in adults and contrasts the black ground color (Petranka 1998). The dorsal part of the head is black, whereas the sides of the head and trunk are black with white and rust colored flecking. Plethodon yonahlossee is the largest member of the eastern North American Plethodon. Males have an average snout-to-vent length (SL) of 6.7 cm, while females are dramatically larger, 7.2 cm (Pope 1950). The total adult length is between 11-22 cm, with 16 costal grooves (Petranka 1998).

Plethodon yonahlossee belongs to the glutinosus group of the tribe Plethodontini of lungless salamanders (Plethodontidae). There is an uncertain phylogenetic placement of P. yonahlossee within the P. glutinosus group of slimy salamanders. While P. yonahlossee is a member of the glutinosus group, it is morphologically and biochemically distinct from other members of the glutinosus or jordani complexes (Highton and Peabody 2000). Guttman et al. (1978) assigned the crevice salamander, P. longicrus, to P. yonahlossee based on morphological and allozyme evidence. However, some workers still regard P. longicrus as a distinct species due to its characteristic rocky habitat (reviewed in Petranka 1998).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States

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


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (9 records).
Plethodon yonahlossee is found in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and southern Virginia (Petranka 1998). It occurs at elevations between 436 and 1737 m in mountane deciduous forests (Guttman et al. 1978). Adults are usually found under rotten wood and debris such as rocks or fallen bark (Pope 1950). They are sympatric with P. glutinosus, P. metcalfi, P. montanus, P. amplus, and P. cylindraceus, although there are few records of their interactions with these other large salamanders (Pope 1950; Highton and Peabody 2000). There is only a single record indicating possible hybridization between P. yonahlossee and another salamander species, P. glutinosus, from a specimen collected in Skull Gap, Iron Mountain Virginia (Highton and Peabody 2000).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Like all members of the genus Plethodon, P. yonahlossee is a direct developer. This life history mode is characterized by the absence of a free-living larva. The emerging young hatch from the egg with virtually all adult features except sexual maturity. Males reach sexual maturity at approximately 56 mm SL, and both sexes reach maturity around their third year. The breeding season is long, with a possible peak in late August and early September (Pope 1950). They have previously been shown to be abundant throughout their range (Pope 1950), although there are no data regarding current population levels.

Trends and Threats
There are no assessments of the status of P. yonahlossee available through either the CITES, USFWS endangered species, or IUCN red list web sites. There has been some concern for P. yonahlossee and other forest floor dwelling salamanders raised by James Petranka and his colleagues (1993; 1994). They note the susceptibility of these salamanders to habitat alterations associated with the clear cutting of deciduous forests. However there is no present indication that P. yonahlossee is threatened on a species level by these forestry practices.

Relation to Humans
Plethodon yonahlossee is one of the largest and most renowned salamanders of the American southeast. Hobbyist “herpers” consider them to be part of the “triple crown” group of salamanders worth observing in this part of the country, along with the green salamander (Aneides aeneus) and the Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis). Their relation to humans is mainly as a source of pride for the diversity and beauty of salamanders found exclusive to this region of North America.

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities


Guttman, S. I., Karlin, A. A., and Labanick, G. M. (1978). ''A biochemical and morphological analysis of the relationship between Plethodon longicrus and Plethodon yonahlossee (Amphibia, Urodela, Plethodontidae).'' Journal of Herpetology, 12, 445-454.

Highton, R. and Peabody, R. (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.'' The Biology of Plethodontid Salamanders. R. C. Bruce, R. G. Jaeger, and L. D. Houck, eds., Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Press, New York.

Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. and London.

Petranka, J. W., Brannon, M. P., Hopey, M. E.; Smith, C. K. (1994). ''Effects of timber harvesting on low elevation populations of southern Appalachian salamanders.'' Forest Ecology and Management, 67, 135-147.

Petranka, J. W., Eldridge, M. E., and Haley, K. E. (1993). ''Effects of timber harvesting on Southern Appalachian salamanders.'' Conservation Biology, 7(2), 363-.

Pope, C. H. (1950). ''A statistical and ecological study of the salamander: Plethodon yonahlossee.'' Bulletin of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, 9, 79-106.

Verrell, P. A., and Mabry, M. (2000). ''The courtship of plethodontid salamanders: form, function and phylogeny.'' The Biology of Plethodontid Salamanders. R. C. Bruce, R. G. Jaeger, and L. D. Houck, eds., Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Press, New York, NY.

Wake, D.B. (1966). ''Comparative osteology and evolution of the lungless salamanders, family Plethodontidae.'' Memoirs of the Southern California Academy of Sciences , 4, 1-111.

Originally submitted by: Ryan Kerney (first posted 2003-01-11)
Edited by: Meredith Mahoney, David Wake, and Jim Hanken (2018-12-14)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2018 Plethodon yonahlossee: Yonahlossee Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 20, 2024.

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

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