Status and Distribution of the Streamside Salamander, Ambystoma Barbouri, in Middle Tennessee

By Niemiller, Matthew L.; Glorioso, Brad M. et al. | The American Midland Naturalist, October 2006 | Go to article overview

Status and Distribution of the Streamside Salamander, Ambystoma Barbouri, in Middle Tennessee


Niemiller, Matthew L., Glorioso, Brad M., Nicholas, Christina, Phillips, Julie, et al., The American Midland Naturalist


ABSTRACT.-

Middle Tennessee populations of the Streamside Salamander, Ambystoma barbouri, delimit the southern extent of the species' range and are geographically isolated from more northerly populations. Few populations have been discovered in Tennessee, and all of them are located in the Inner Nashville Basin ecological subregion of the Interior Plateau. We surveyed for breeding activity in first- and second-order streams in the southern Inner Nashville Basin to determine the species distribution and to examine the status of and existing threats to extant populations. Streamside salamanders were found at five of 40 localities in southern Rutherford, northern Bedford and northeastern Marshall County, and at only 4 of 6 previously known breeding sites. Continued habitat fragmentation and alteration in association with the urbanization of Rutherford County threaten existing A. barbouri populations, which may represent the last remaining populations in the state. We recommend state and local agencies develop a habitat conservation plan to preserve and improve first- and second-order breeding sites and the surrounding forests used by adult Streamside Salamanders.

INTRODUCTION

The Streamside Salamander, Ambystoma barbouri, is a stream-breeding member of the family Ambystomatidae (Mole Salamanders). Until recently, A. barbouri vas considered conspecific with the Small-mouthed Salamander, A. texanum (Kraus and Petranka, 1989). Although difficult to distinguish using external morphology, A. barbouri and A. texanum now are considered sibling species (Petranka, 1998). The Streamside Salamander occurs from southeastern Indiana and southwestern Ohio into central and western Kentucky; geographic isolates are reported from Livingston and Russell counties, Kentucky, Wayne Co., West Virginia and Davidson, Jackson and Rutherford counties, Tennessee (Kraus and Petranka, 1989; Scott et al., 1997; Petranka, 1998; Regester and Miller, 2000). Adult Streamside Salamanders inhabit upland deciduous forests in the vicinity of first- and second-order streams that are ephemeral and have relatively few predatory fish. Populations are found primarily in association with exposed limestone (Petranka, 1998). Throughout their range, adults breed from December to early April and deposit eggs on the undersurfaces of submerged flat rocks (Ashton, 1966; Petranka, 1982; Kraus and Petranka, 1989; Regester and Miller, 2000).

Because of the association with ephemeral streams and hardwood forests, deforestation and development around streams used for breeding are the major causes of population declines throughout the range of Ambystoma barbouri (Petranka, 1998; Watson and Pauley, 2005). Of the two West Virginia populations known, one may have recently been extirpated because of land development (Watson and Pauley, 2005). Information on Tennessee populations is limited to that contained in the brief reports of Ashton (1966), Scott et al. (1997) and Regester and Miller (2000). Niedzwiecki (2005) included specimens from Rutherford County, Tennessee, in a phylogenetic analysis of A. barbouri and A. texanum. Tennessee specimens possess a unique mtDNA haplotype and form a distinct clade from other A. barbouri populations and are sister to all A. texanum populations. However, A. barbouri from Tennessee possess similar haplotypes to other A. barbouri populations at two nuclear loci examined. Additionally, Niedzwiecki (2005) found that all populations from Rutherford County, Tennessee, showed reduced mean size and developmental stage at hatching.

Because of the limited distribution and lack of information on natural history, Ambystoma barbouri is listed as "deemed in need of management" by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) (Withers et al., 2004). This state listing is analogous to the "Special Concern" category of other states and is used by the TWRA when the executive director believes that a taxon should be investigated so that a database can be created on distribution, demography, habitat needs, limiting factors and other pertinent natural history information (Withers et at. …

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