AmphibiaWeb - Plethodon ainsworthi


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Plethodon ainsworthi Lazell, 1998
Catahoula Salamander, Ainsworth's Salamander
Subgenus: Plethodon
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Plethodontinae
genus: Plethodon
Taxonomic Notes: This taxon, known only from two poorly preserved specimens, one subsequently destroyed is of questionable validity. Himes and Beckett's (2014, Southeastern Naturalist 24: 103-110) morphological studies led them to consider the taxon synonymous with the syntopic Plethodon mississippi. Pierson et al. (2020, J Herpetology 54:137-143) questioned their findings, but were unable to obtain suitable material for molecular studies and confirmed the demineralization of the skeleton that makes skeletal comparisons impossible. They state "we tentatively recommend continued recognition of P. ainsworthi as a valid but possibly extinct taxon".
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Extinct (EX)
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National Status Extinct
Regional Status None
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Very attenuated Plethodon with short limbs. 16 costal grooves (counting a Y-shaped groove in the groin as two grooves). 4-6 costal folds between adpressed limbs. Peritoneum is not distinctively pigmented. 40 premaxillary/maxillary teeth. Palatine teeth in large median patch, 12 teeth wide and 18 teeth long. Vomerine teeth in two well-separated arc-shaped rows with 8-10 teeth in each row. As with all Plethodon, this species has four digits on the manus and five on the pes, a cylindrical tail without any basal constriction, and a tongue attached in the front (Lazell 1998).

In preservative, the specimens are dark blackish-brown without any noticeable pattern, and the peritoneum lacks any distinctive pigmentation (Lazell 1998).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States

U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Mississippi


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Collected two miles south of Bay Springs, Jasper County, Mississippi, possibly on Ainsworth family property (two miles south of Bay Springs on old highway 15), in springhead litter (Lazell 1998). The area was a mixed mesic woodland with springheads and seepage when resurveyed in 1991, draining into Tallahoma Creek (Lazell 1998).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species is believed to be extinct. The only two specimens were collected on June 12, 1964, and despite recent survey work, no more have been found. It is believed to have reproduced by direct development of terrestrially laid eggs (Stuart et al. 2008).

Trends and Threats
Habitat loss through deforestation is thought to have been the major factor leading to the extinction of this species (Stuart et al. 2008). Perhaps specializd habitat has been lost. Other species of salamanders were abundant at the site in 1991 (Desmognatheus auriculatus, Eurycea bislineata, Pseudotriton ruber vioscai in the moister areas, and Plethodon mississippi in the drier areas), but the presumed forest locality was surrounded by poor-quality habitat. The area had been recently clearcut to within 100 m north of the springheads and open pasture was present to the east of the springheads (Lazell 1998). About two hectares of intact forest were present in 1991 (Lazell 1998).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Subtle changes to necessary specialized habitat

The holotype and paratype were collected by Jackson Harold Ainsworth as Plethodon glutinosus in 1964, and described as a new species, Plethodon ainsworthi, by Lazell (1998).


Lazell, J. (1998). ''New salamander of the genus Plethodon from Mississippi.'' Copeia, 1998, 967-970.

Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Originally submitted by: Krystal Gong (first posted 2001-05-31)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2009-08-07)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2009 Plethodon ainsworthi: Catahoula Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Feb 25, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 25 Feb 2024.

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