Plethodon shenandoah 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae

Scientific Name: Plethodon shenandoah 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.
Previously published Red List assessments:

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).
Countries occurrence:
United States
Additional data:
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).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

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.

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.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Unknown
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Unknown
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Lymantria dispar ]
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Adelges tsugae ]
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.2. Problematic native species/diseases -> 8.2.2. Named species [ Plethodon cinereus ]
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

9. Pollution -> 9.5. Air-borne pollutants -> 9.5.4. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

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. Available at: (Accessed: 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 2004: e.T17629A7210465. . Downloaded on 21 May 2018.
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