Plethodon petraeus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae

Scientific Name: Plethodon petraeus Wynn, Highton and Jacobs, 1988
Common Name(s):
English Pigeon Mountain 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
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 a single location.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is limited to the Cumberland Plateau of extreme north-western Georgia, USA. All known populations occur on the eastern slope of Pigeon Mountain in Walker and Chattooga counties (Wynn, Highton and Jacobs 1988, Jensen 1999, Buhlmann 2001, Jensen, Camp and Marshall 2002). Sites occur at altitudes ranging from 220-570m asl (Wynn, Highton and Jacobs 1988).
Countries occurrence:
United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Wynn, Highton and Jacobs (1988) reported the species as very abundant, far outnumbering other syntopic salamander species. Recent surveys at two of the known sites indicated no detectable change in their abundance (J.B. Jensen pers. obs.); however, Pigeon Mountain salamanders have become uncommon at one locality, possibly due to disturbance created by increased cave visitation and/or perhaps scientific over-collecting (Jensen 1999).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Pigeon Mountain Salamanders are associated with limestone outcroppings, boulder fields, and caves (Wynn, Highton and Jacobs 1988). Those found in caves are rarely deeper than the twilight zone. Individuals are most often found in and around cracks and crevices within rocks. These microhabitats are embedded within mesic deciduous forests consisting of an over-storey comprised primarily of oak and hickory (Jensen 1999). However, Pigeon Mountain Salamanders are rarely encountered away from rock outcrops or caves (Jensen, Camp and Marshall 2002).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The restricted distribution of Pigeon Mountain Salamanders makes them especially vulnerable to threats. Mineral rights to a portion of this property are leased to a mining company that has proposed quarrying operations, which might threaten both this species and Green Salamanders, another rare amphibian. Over-collection for scientific study and possibly the illegal pet trade, as well as disturbance from recreational cavers, might threaten populations. Loss or reduction of moisture-trapping canopy covers as a result of timber removal on private lands could pose a future threat. However, at present the species appears to be stable and the impacts of these threats is probably relatively limited.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Most of the species' potential habitat is in the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area. A request to list the species as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act was submitted by John Jensen to the USFWS-Athens, GA Field Office. Private land within the range of the species should be considered for acquisition or the establishment of conservation easements. Timber harvest should be avoided in occupied habitats; if timber harvest does occur, it is important to retain a forested canopy surrounding significant rock-outcroppings and caves, as well as to retain a suitable amount of coarse woody debris. 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)
7. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) -> 7.1. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) - Caves
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
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
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Past, Likely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.1. Recreational activities
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Sport hunting/specimen collecting
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Buhlmann, K.A. 2001. A biological inventory of eight caves in northwestern Georgia with conservation implications. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies: 91-98.

Carr, D.E. 1996. Morphological variation among species and populations of salamanders in the Plethodon glutinosus complex. Herpetologica: 56-65.

Collins, J.T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles, 3rd edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles: Herpetological Circular: 1-41.

Highton, R. 1989. Biochemical evolution in the slimy salamanders of the Plethodon glutinosus complex in the eastern United States. Part I. Geographic protein variation. Illinois Biological Monographs: 1-78.

Highton, R. 1995. Speciation in eastern North American salamanders of the genus Plethodon. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics: 579-600.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2004).

Jensen, J.B. 1999. Pigeon Mountain salamander: Plethodon petraeus. In: Johnson, T.W., Ozier, J.C., Bohannon, J.L. and Jens, J.B. (eds), Protected Animals of Georgia, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Social Circle, Georgia.

Jensen, J.B. and Camp, C.D. 2005. Plethodon petraeus Wynn, Highton and Jacobs, 1988. In: Lannoo, M.J. (ed.), Amphibian Declines: the Conservation Status of United States Species, pp. 833-834. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Jensen, J.B. and While, M.R. 2000. Diets of sympatric Plethodon petraeus and Plethodon glutinousus. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society: 245-250.

Jensen, J.B., Camp, C.D. and Marshall, J.L. 2002. Ecology and life history of the Pigeon Mountain Salamander. Southeastern Naturalist: 3-16.

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.

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

Wynn, A.H., Highton, R. and Jacobs, J.F. 1988. A new species of rock-crevice dwelling Plethodon from Pigeon Mountain, Georgia. Herpetologica: 135-143.

Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson. 2004. Plethodon petraeus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T59350A11921872. . Downloaded on 23 May 2018.
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