TN Salamanders - Natural History

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  1. Range: Statewide, common

    Habitat: hardwood forest under moist logs/stones

    Reproduction: breed in shallow forest ponds lacking fish & vernal pools; early spring

    Behavior: Poison glands in skin, mostly on backs and tails, release sticky white toxin when threatened. Return to breed in pond where they hatched.

    Diet: forest floor invertebrates, occasionally smaller sals
    Spotted Salamander – Ambystoma maculatum
  2. Range: Statewide (except maybe NE), fairly common but in decline

    Habitat: Woodlands, low land swamps to dry hillsides

    Reproduction: Fall breeders; lay eggs on land (usually under a log) in shallow wetlands, nests may flood

    Behavior: females guard nests until hatching

    Diet: terrestrial invertebrates & mollusks
    Marbled Salamander - Ambystoma opacum
  3. Range: Mostly western, also south-central; moderately common but rarely seen

    Habitat: Floodplain forests or upland forests near breeding sites; often in underground burrows or beneath objects

    Reproduction: Winter/early spring breeders; breed in shallow ponds or flooded depressions w/out fish; neotenic in many locations

    Behavior: Last tails & expose noxious secretions of parotid glands on heads when threatened

    Diet: invertebrates - insects, worms, snails
    Mole Salamander - Ambystoma talpoideum
  4. Range: primarily western TN; replaced on Cumberland Plateau by recently described streamside sal but fairly common in range

    Habitat: lowland floodplain wetlands, hidden under logs, rocks, leaf litter or burrows of other animals
    Reproduction: Early spring breeders; deposit eggs in ephemeral pools 

    Behavior: When threatened will raise & wave tails

    Diet: insects, slugs, worms, occasionally aquatic crustaceans
    Smallmouth Salamander - Ambystoma texanum
  5. Range: not well known, occurs sporadically in middle & eastern TN; uncommon to rare, likely declining

    Habitat: Adults terrestrial - forests, grasslands, or marshy areas w/ loose soil for burrowing (live in burrows) & near semi-permanent body of water for egg-laying

    Reproduction: late winter-early spring breeders;  
    lay eggs in semi-permanent to permanent ponds w/out fish

    Diet: terrestrial invertebrates
    Eastern Tiger Sal - Ambystoma tigrinum
  6. Range: statewide, common

    Habitat: Semi-permanent
    ponds and sloughs in or near forests as adults; juveniles (efts) occur in a diversity of forested habitats.

    Reproduction: Best breeding ponds are fish-free, but extensively vegetated borders of fish stocked lakes also can serve as breeding
    habitat; courtship occurs in late autumn and spring, but eggs are laid only during spring

    Behavior: Unusual life cycle includes three distinct post-hatching stages: (1) aquatic larva, (2) terrestrial (juvenile) eft, and
    (3) aquatic adult. Adults have toxic skin
    secretions, enabling them to co-exist with fish

    Diet: variety of small aquatic invertebrates as adults including crustaceans, insect larvae, and mollusks
    Eastern Newt - Notophthalmus viridescens
  7. Range: western, relatively uncommon

    Habitat: muddy swamps and ponds and other shallow bodies of water

    Reproduction: Breeds early spring; eggs are laid in shallow bodies of water that are very vegetated

    Behavior: Secretes cocoons during droughts and can withstand drought for up to a year in a state of aestivation. Poor dispersal ability over land. Produces a shrill call when
    under stress

    Diet: aquatic invertebrates such as insects, worms, and snails
    Lesser Siren - Siren intermedia
  8. Range: western, very common

    Habitat: bayous and ditches of the Mississippi Delta in almost any unpolluted, muddy or mucky water 

    Reproduction: Early spring breeder, underwater. Females lay strings of
    ~200 eggs in mud depressions under logs or other debris; sometimes lay eggs at
    the interface between terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

    Behavior: Sometimes called "congo eels," will bite viciously if handled; rarely leave water except after heavy rain.

    Diet: earthworms, crayfish, fish, insects, mollusks, snakes, tadpoles, frogs, and small amphiumas
    Three-toed Amphiuma - Amphiuma tridactylum
  9. Range: eastern 2/3 of TN, uncommon-rare & declining

    Habitat: clear, cool, rocky streams of good water quality and moderately large size; hides under large, flat rocks.

     Reproduction: Fall breeder; males build nests under rocks consisting of depressions for egg deposition; they attract females and fertilize eggs externally somewhat similar to spawning behavior of fish

    Behavior: Nocturnal. Males guard nests and aerate eggs; egg cannibalism occurs in many locations

    Diet: Primarily crayfish, but also other invertebrates, fish, and other hellbenders
    Hellbender – Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
  10. Range: throughout TN except nw corner, locally common but rarely seen.

    Habitat: fast-flowing streams with rocky bottoms; hide under rocks and logs during the day

    Reproduction: Fall breeder; eggs are usually deposited under rocks or logs in the streams in which they reside; females tend eggs after laying

    Behavior: Nocturnal, completely aquatic. Retain external gills that resemble ostrich plumes throughout life (paedomorphic)

    Diet: aquatic animals including fish, fish eggs, crayfish, aquatic insects, mollusks, and other amphibians
    Common Mudpuppy - Necturus maculosus
  11. Range: scattered in central & east TN (Cumberland Mountains, Cumberland Plateau, and Highland Rim), locally uncommon & declining

    Habitat: almost entirely in crevices of rock outcroppings, especially sandstone; crevices must be damp but not wet

    Reproduction: Usually breeds in May & June but can occur later. Deposit eggs on upper walls of moist rock crevices; females tend eggs and young after they hatch. Direct development of eggs; no aquatic larval form; young resemble miniature adults.

    Behavior: Highly arboreal and adapted to crawling around on rock faces (suction cups on toes, prehensile tails, flattened, and colored like lichens). Very rarely seen on ground, in trees, or on roads. Males defend their territories against other green salamanders.

    Diet: insects and other invertebrates (e.g., spiders) found in crevices
    Green Salamander - Aneides aenus
  12. Range: eastern & central TN (recently split from spotted dusky sal in western), extremely abundant

    Habitat: brooks, near streams, and in seepage areas, but most commonly along edges of small woodland streams where stones, chunks of wood, and debris provide shelter for salamanders and their food

    Reproduction: breeds in fall & spring; eggs are attached to the undersides of rocks, logs, or other substrates in or near water. If hatched on land, larvae immediately move to the water for the aquatic stage.

    Behavior: Will bite predators (e.g., garter snakes) if attacked and will autotomize their tails to flee; tails are not lost as readily as those of some woodland salamanders (e.g., zigzag salamanders)

    Diet: insects and other arthropods, such as spiders
    Northern Dusky Salamander - Desmognathus fuscus
  13. Range: only at high elevations (≥3000 ft) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park; presumably uncommon but not well-studied.

    Habitat: variety of moist habitats around streams, seepage areas and springs where they are found under rocks and other moist litter on the forest floor

    Reproduction: Breeds in late spring and deposits eggs (5–30) in early summer; lay eggs under moss or in spaces between rocks in wet areas

    Behavior: Appear to be ambush predators. Females guard eggs until they hatch, and larvae move to streams to develop aquatically

    Diet: insects and other arthropods, such as spiders
    Imitator Salamander – Desmognathus imitator
Card Set:
TN Salamanders - Natural History
2013-05-02 03:57:38
herpetology tntech

Natural history of selected salamanders of TN.
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