Sampling of terrestrial salamanders reveals previously unreported atypical color morphs in the southern red-backed salamander Plethodon serratus

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Date: Jan. 2014
From: The American Midland Naturalist(Vol. 171, Issue 1)
Publisher: University of Notre Dame, Department of Biological Sciences
Document Type: Report
Length: 2,797 words
Lexile Measure: 1350L

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Abstract :

Atypical color morphs have been described in many species of salamander, but few descriptions are quantitative, and none address those found in the Southern Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon serratus. In 2010 and 2011, we conducted 5 weekly rounds of diurnal leaf litter and natural cover object searches per season (Spring and Fall) in the Ozark Mountains of South central Missouri, U.S.A., with a total of 800 individual 3 x 3 m plots searched. We found 1876 Plethodon serratus (Southern Red-backed Salamander), 20 P. albagula (Western Slimy Salamander), and four Eurycea longicauda melanopleura (Dark-sided Salamander). Of the 1876 P. serratus encountered, all but six exhibited the red-backed phase. Atypical color morphs included the lead-backed phase (n = 2, including a gravid female), the silver-backed (grey stripe) phase (n = 1), a ghost-backed (white stripe) phase (n = 1) and the hypomelanistic phase (n = 2). The majority of salamanders were found in leaf litter, followed by woody cover and rocks. Two adults of P. serratus were encountered in burrows of cicada nymphs. We encountered only 3 of the 4 color morphs described for P. cinereus, the sister species of P. serratus, but added two color morphs to the list known for P. serratus. We expect that additional surveys for P. serratus in other parts of their range will help determine whether color morph frequency varies between populations and habitat as it does for P. cinereus.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A355673568