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Amphibian cwcs Species List
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Generally GOOD in the Cumberland Mountains, but only FAIR elsewhere in eastern Kentucky; populations seem to be declining in the northeast. The Daniel Boone National Forest cliffline management policy will help maintain habitat for populations that inhabit public lands in the Cliff Section of the Cumberland Plateau.
Following Key Habitats (good):
Habitat condition overall is probably GOOD within its limited range in Kentucky; the amount of cropland and pasture in this area seems to be relatively stable with little or no imminent threat from development or urban expansion.
Habitat condition overall is FAIR.
Habitat condition is generally GOOD in the Cumberland Mountains, but only FAIR elsewhere in eastern Kentucky; populations seem to be declining in the northeast. The Daniel Boone National Forest cliffline management policy and buffer strips to maintain forest cover along stream corridors will help maintain habitat for populations that inhabit public lands in the Cliff Section of the Cumberland Plateau.
Habitat condition is generally GOOD in many areas in southeastern Kentucky, but perhaps only FAIR in an overall view if one considers the unexplained population declines that have taken place in some areas. Habitat condition is generally good on most public lands; Daniel Boone National Forest cliffline and cave management policies will probably ensure that forest cover is maintained in some of the best habitat in the Cliff Section and Rugged Eastern Area of the Cumberland Plateau.
Habitat condition is generally FAIR to POOR.
Data from across the range indicates that the overall population trend is thought to be stable to decreasing but populations are very difficult to monitor due to the irregular and unpredictable breeding habits of this species.
The Eastern Spadefoot is a wide-ranging species known from about 24 states in the eastern, midwestern, and southeastern U.S. and is listed by state heritageprograms in about half of these (Conant and Collins 1991; U.S. GeologicalSurvey/National Amphibian Atlas accessed 3/15/2010; NatureServe accessed 3/11/2010). Still, relatively little hard information is available on the distribution and abundance of this highly fossorial animal. Adults call only during brief, irregular breeding episodes during periods of heavy rain but otherwise spend much of their time underground (Lannoo 2005). State Conservation Statuses (NatureServe, accessed 3/11/2010) are as follows: S1 in Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia; S2 in Arkansas, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Missouri; S2/S3 in New York, S3 in Illinois; S4 in Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, and Virginia; and S5 or unranked in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Eastern Spadefoots are believed to have been extirpated from portions of their original range due to habitat destruction (McCoy 1982; Klemens 1993).
The Eastern Spadefoot has been added to the Kentucky State Wildlife Action Plan for three reasons: (1) its overall distribution and abundance are poorly known in comparison with other native anurans; (2) most of the documented breeding sites are temporary pools that in recent years have usually gone dry before the tadpoles have transformed into froglets; and (3) complete larval die-offs from disease have been observed at 2 different breeding ponds that have been monitored regularly by the state herpetologist.
Eastern Spadefoots have been documented from at least 37 Kentucky countiesranging from Greenup, Lawrence, and Floyd in eastern Kentucky westward to Carlisle County at the base of the loess bluffs bordering the Mississippi River. Some of these records date back into the 1930’s, and many are based on single specimens. No records are available from the Bluegrass Region or Western Coal Field but this species does occur at least sparingly in all other sections of Kentucky. Within the past 10 years breeding sites have been found in Rowan, Powell, Rockcastle, Laurel, McCreary, Meade, Hart, and Edmonson counties. Massive tadpole die-offs have been noted at breeding ponds in Rockcastle and Edmonson counties during this time, indicating that diseases such as Ranavirus may be impacting this species in Kentucky. Several breeding sites that were monitored in Edmonson County from 2004-2009 have gone dry before the tadpoles could complete their development – this is not unusual for a species that often uses temporary pools for reproduction but in combination with disease it may contribute to the extirpation of local populations over time (JRM unpublished data).
Adult four-toed salamanders live primarily in upland forests; good populations also occur in wet woodlands along floodplains and terraces border some large streams and rivers. Egg clusters are laid in late winter and early spring and are usually attended by females; nests are located near the edges of ponds, woodland pools, seeps, or sluggish boggy headwater streams in which the larval development takes place after hatching. Most nests are hidden in mosses, but some are also found in clumps of grasses or sedges, in and under chunks of decaying wood, or in leaf litter. Most Kentucky sites are in areas with acid soils. Natural vernal ponds on broad flat sandstone ridges and wet areas located along old mine benches seem especially favored as nesting areas.
Habitat condition is generally GOOD overall.
Habitat condition is apparently GOOD; this species is nearly ubiquitous in Kentucky within its limited range.
Habitat condition is generally GOOD. Generally stable; the Daniel Boone National Forest cliffline management policy will ensure that forest cover is maintained on public lands in the Cliff Section of the Cumberland Plateau.
Habitat condition overall is GOOD. The amount of suitable habitat for the green treefrog appears to be stable to increasing in Kentucky.
Habitat condition is generally FAIR in the Jackson Purchase
Following Key Habitats (good)
Habitat condition overall is FAIR
Apparently stable at a rangewide scale, but local declines in Northern Dusky Salamander populations have been documented in some portions of the range. Petranka (1998) refers to this salamander as one of the most common species in North America.
The Northern Dusky Salamander occurs in about 19 states in the eastern, Midwestern, and southeastern United States (U.S. Geological Survey/Nationa Amphibian Atlas, accessed 3/15/2010). State heritage programs list this species as S4, S5, or unranked throughout its range as follows: Connecticut (S4), Delaware (S5), District of Columbia (S5), Indiana (S4), Kentucky (S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S4S5), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (SNR), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5), Ohio (SNR), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S4), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S5), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), and West Virginia (S5) (NatureServe, accessed 3/11/2010).
Despite this rosy assessment, there appear to be problems in some areas. Urbanization has wiped out populations in portions of the Midwest and New England (Lannoo 2005); stream scouring [from rapid runoff], siltation, and loss of ground cover are likely among the major reasons for low densities of this species in urban areas (Petranka 1998). Surface mining has been implicated in the elimination of Northern Dusky Salamanders from many small streams in portions of the Appalachian region (Petranka 1998). “Dusky salamanders are sensitive to stream pollution and siltation. Desmognathus fuscus larvae are absent from many streams draining coal strip mines in Kentucky and Tennessee… stream siltation and high metal concentrations appear to be the two primary factors in reducing or eliminating Desmognathus from these streams…” (Gore 1983). Perhaps the most disturbing recent report concerning this species has come from Acadia National Park in Maine: “We investigated and reviewed the current and historic distribution of Northern Dusky Salamanders in Acadia National Park (ANP)…during 1938-2003. Historical data indicated that Northern Dusky Salamanders were once widespread and common in ANP. We conducted intensive surveys for stream salamanders during 2000-2003 and observed only two adult Northern Dusky Salamanders on one stream. No eggs or larvae were observed…This investigation is the first to document the decline of a stream-dwelling amphibian species in a national park with widespread mercury contamination of its surface waters.” (Bank et al 2006). Another study coauthored by some members of this group (Bank, Crocker, Connery, and Amirbahman 2007) reported high levels of mercury in the tadpoles of green frogs and bullfrogs from several ponds within Acadia National Park. The source of the mercury is believed to be atmospheric deposition from solid waste incinerators and other facilities upwind from the park.
Decreasing in at least some sections of Kentucky. The Northern Dusky Salamander is being added to the Kentucky Wildlife Action Plan on the basis of documented population declines in the Mammoth Cave National Park region (MacGregor 2007) and large sections of the state impacted by surface mining (i.e. see Gore 1983), and suspected declines in Rowan and Elliott counties in northeastern Kentucky (MacGregor, unpublished data).
Barbour (1971) considered the Northern Dusky Salamander to be an abundant species in the state, writing that “…Nearly every little woodland stream in Kentucky supports a population.” Data gleaned from numerous museum collections and biologists’ field notes shows that this species has been documented from about 80 Kentucky counties and ranges across the state from the Cumberland River in Livingston, Lyon, and Trigg counties eastward to the Virginia and West Virginia borders. The only large gaps in the Kentucky range are in portions of the Bluegrass Region and Western Coal Field. West of the Cumberland River this species is replaced by the closely-related Spotted Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus conanti).
The best-documented decline in the Northern Dusky Salamander in Kentucky has taken place at Mammoth Cave National Park (MCNP), a 70,000-acre block of land that has seen very little disturbance since the time that much of the area was purchased for protection in the 1930’s. Museum specimens and field note records in MCNP files for this salamander from springs and spring-fed creeks within the park date back as far as 1929; many additional collections and observations were made through the 1930’s and these salamanders continued to be found in abundance at least until 1961. In the early 1980’s, Marilyn Hale, a graduate student at the University of Louisville, conducted an amphibian survey at MCNP and was able to document Northern Duskies in very low numbers and at only two locations within the park (Hale 1984). More recently, MacGregor (2007) searched nearly every previously known Northern Dusky Salamander location within the park and was able to locate only a single specimen in a rocky spring in the head of Big Hollow – an area where the species had been seen abundantly in 1961. All of these springs and headwater streams that were surveyed still contain Southern Two-lined Salamanders (Eurycea cirrigera), Longtail Salamanders (E. longicauda), and Red Salamanders (Pseudotriton ruber) but the Northern Dusky Salamanders have virtually disappeared. Other serious declines appear to have taken place in the areas near Morehead in northeastern Kentucky but the historic locality data is so vague that good documentation of population changes is difficult. Coal is largely absent from this region and there has been little or no mining activity.
Habitat condition overall is UNKNOWN. However, many ponds that appear suitable for use as breeding sites are unoccupied, and there are often long distances between known breeding colonies.
Habitat condition at the present time is only FAIR, and the prognosis for the foreseeable future is generally POOR.
Habitat condition overall is GOOD, except for the disappearing population in the northeastern part of the state where it is POOR.
Habitat condition for this species is generally GOOD. Daniel Boone National Forest cliffline and cave management guidelines should ensure that forest cover is maintained in some of the best habitat throughout the southern portion of the Cliff Section of the Cumberland Plateau.
Apparently stable on a rangewide scale, but local declines in Spotted Dusky Salamander populations have been documented in some portions of the range. At the present time, the extensive contact zone between the Northern and Spotted Dusky Salamanders has not been thoroughly documented and the ranges of these two very similar species have not been completely worked out in many areas, including southern Illinois (Bonett 2002).
Spotted Dusky Salamanders occur in about 9 states, ranging from extreme southern Illinois (?) and western Kentucky southward and eastward into eastern Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and northwestern Florida (U.S. Geological Survey/National Amphibian Atlas, accessed 3/15/2010). Five state heritage programs within its range list this species as S5 as follows: Alabama (S5), Georgia (S5), Louisiana (S5), Mississippi (S5), and Tennessee (S5), but it is listed as an S1 species in Arkansas, S2 in Illinois, and S3 in Kentucky and is unranked in Florida (NatureServe, accessed 3/11/2010).
Populations along Crowley’s Ridge in eastern Arkansas seem to have disappeared (Lannoo 2005). Other local populations have been extirpated or reduced as a result of urbanization (near Atlanta, GA – Orser and Shure 1972) and stream siltation and sedimentation due to the effects of construction and farming (Petranka 1998). A recent study completed at Eglin Air Force Base in northwestern Florida (Means and Travis 2007) showed that Spotted Dusky Salamanders had declined in numbers by 68% between an early survey during 1969-1975 and a second survey of the same ravines by the same researcher in 1997-1998. Salamander capture rates in 26 ravines sampled both times fell from 13.56/hour during the initial survey to 4.66/hour during the follow-up study. During the same study, Southern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus auriculatus) numbers fell from 8.65/hour to 0 – showing total extirpation – while catch per unit effort remained nearly unchanged between the survey periods for both the Southern Two-lined Salamander and Red Salamander. The areas surveyed for salamanders were forested ravines and steepheads that had not been logged or otherwise visibly disturbed
The Spotted Dusky Salamander is being added to the Kentucky Wildlife Action Plan due to its ecological similarity to the Northern Dusky Salamander, its limited range in our state that includes at least two small, isolated, fragile populations, and the unexplained declines that have occurred in other parts of the range (Crowley’s Ridge in Arkansas and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida).
The Type Locality for the Spotted Dusky Salamander is a small unnamed spring- fed stream located about 2 miles south of Smithland in Livingston County (Rossman 1958.)
Spotted Dusky Salamanders are known from 7 counties in western Kentucky. The largest populations occur between the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers in Livingston County, at Land Between the Lakes (LBL) in Lyon and Trigg counties, and in the Blood River drainage in southeastern Calloway County. Additional populations are scattered and isolated; a colony occurs in the Terrapin Creek drainage in Graves County near the Calloway County line; another occupies several small springs near the Tennessee River in northeastern McCracken County; and a small colony occupies seepage habitats near Laketon in Carlisle County. The McCracken County and Carlisle County populations appear to be very vulnerable to extirpation. A formerly healthy population of Spotted Dusky Salamanders inhabiting a spring-fed woodland stream on the west side of LBL was eliminated during the relocation and reconstruction of highway 68/80 during 2008-2009 (JRM, personal observation).
Generally Good at LBL since Forest Service management will likely maintain forest cover along headwater streams. Fair in Blood River area and Terrapin Creek where sites are vulnerable to activities on private lands nearby. Poor in McCracken and Carlisle counties where colonies are small and isolated.
Habitat Condition is FAIR to GOOD overall.
Habitat condition is only FAIR overall.
Habitat condition is FAIR overall.
Habitat condition within the limited known range of Wehrle’s salamander in Kentucky appears to be GOOD.
Habitat condition for the siren in Kentucky is generally only FAIR.
Habitat condition overall is GOOD.
Bank, M. S., J. B. Crocker, S. Davis, D. K. Brotherton, R. Cook, J. Behler, and B. Connery. 2006. Population declines of northern dusky salamanders at Acadia National Park, Maine, USA. Biological Conservation 130 (2006) 230-238.
Bank, M. S., J. Crocker, B. Connery, and A. Amirbahman. 2007. Mercury bioaccumulation in green frog (Rana clamitans) and bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) tadpoles from Acadia National Park, Maine, USA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 118–125.
Barbour, R.W., 1971. Amphibians & reptiles of Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.
Bonett, R. M. 2002. Analysis of the contact zone between the dusky salamanders Desmognathus fuscus fuscus and Desmognathus fuscus conanti (Caudata: Plethodontidae). Copeia 2002:344-355.
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