Plethodon shenandoah


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Plethodon shenandoah
Species Authority: Highton & Worthington, 1967
Common Name(s):
English Shenandoah Salamander

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Geoffrey Hammerson, Joseph Mitchell
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Listed as Vulnerable because it is known from only three locations.
1996 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: There are three isolated populations on Hawksbill Mountain, The Pinnacles, and Stony Man Mountain (including Bushytop and a subpopulation below Hemlock Springs Overlook), Shenandoah National Park, Page and Madison counties, Virginia, USA, generally above 800m asl (914-1,143m asl). Reports from further south on the Blue Ridge (Thurow 1999) appear not to refer to this species (Sites et al. 2004).
United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Its abundance is uncertain. It apparently has not declined compared with its historical status, and probably is not declining significantly at the present time (R. Highton pers. comm., 1995).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It can be found in the highest mountains of Shenandoah National Park; steep, northerly facing talus slopes in forested situations. It is tolerant of relatively dry conditions. It is mostly confined to pockets of soil and/or vegetative debris. Apparently, talus is sub-optimal habitat for this species, but it is excluded from forest habitat through competition with Eastern Red-backed Salamander P. cinereus. It is a terrestrial breeder, with direct development.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Its range might be restricted by competition (inter-specific territoriality) with Eastern Red-backed Salamander, which excludes Shenandoah Salamander from moist deep soil adjacent to talus occupied by the latter (Griffis and Jaeger 1992). Deterioration of talus and the accumulation of organic matter might allow incursion of Eastern Red-backed Salamander into Shenandoah Salamander habitat. Recent work indicates that human-related factors, including acid deposition (direct effects and vegetation defoliation) and tree defoliation caused by introduced insect pests, such as gypsy moths and woolly adelgids, might be more important threats (draft recovery plan, 1994). Changes in climate could impact already marginal habitat and exceed salamander's tolerance.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: All sites are in National Park holdings. Shenandoah Salamanders are listed as Endangered by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and as Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There is a need for continued close monitoring of the population status of this species.

Bibliography [top]

Behler, J.L. and King, F.W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York.

Blackburn, L., Nanjappa, P. and Lannoo, M.J. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA.

Bury, R.B., Dodd, Jr., C.K. and Fellers, G.M. 1980. Conservation of the Amphibia of the United States: a review. Resource Publication: 1-34.

Frost, D.R. 1985. Amphibian Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Allen Press and the Association of Systematic Collections, Lawrence, Kansas.

Griffis, M.R. and Jaeger, R.G. 1992. Competitive exclusion of the endangered Shenandoah salamander: field test of the hypothesis. Abstract, 6th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology.

Highton, R. 1988. Plethodon shenandoah. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles: 1-2.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 23 November 2004.

Jacobs, J. 1994. Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah Highton and Worthington). Recovery Plan, Technical/Agency Draft, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region Five.

Mahoney, M.J. 2001. Molecular systematics of Plethodon and Aneides (Caudata: Plethodontidae): phylogenetic analysis of an old and rapid radiation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: 174-188.

Mitchell, J.C. 1991. Amphibians and reptiles. In: Terwilliger, K. (ed.), Virginia's Endangered Species: Proceedings of a Symposium, pp. 411-476. McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Mitchell, J.C. 2005. Plethodon shenandoah Highton and Worthington, 1967. In: Lannoo, M.J. (ed.), Amphibian Declines: the Conservation Status of United States Species, pp. 840-841. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

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

Sites Jr, J.W., Morando, M., Highton, R., Huber, F. and Jung, R.E. 2004. Phylogenetic relationships of the endangered Shenandoah Salamander (Plethodon shenandoah) and other salamanders of the Plethodon cinereus group (Caudata: Plethodontidae). Journal of Herpetology: 96-105.

Thurow, G.R. 1999. New Plethodon shenandoah localities and their significance. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society: 269-273.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1989. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; determination of threatened status for the Cheat Mountain salamander and endangered status for the Shenandoah salamander. Federal Register: 34464.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1990. Endangered and threatened species recovery program: report to Congress.

Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson, Joseph Mitchell 2004. Plethodon shenandoah. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 27 August 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided