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A Different Variety

Posted on Apr 29, 2017

We have a special species to feature in this week’s Salamander Saturday: the Red-cheeked Salamander (Plethodon jordani)! This salamander is another southern Appalachian species, primarily occurring between southwestern Virginia and extreme northeastern Georgia. It is a fairly common resident in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, otherwise known as the “Salamander Capital of the World.” This salamander typically resides within deep mountain gorges near streams and seeps. It also tends to prefer spruce-fir forests, but is sometimes found in mixed hardwood forests as well.

Red-cheeked Salamander

While these salamanders are fairly common, they are considered near threatened. Habitat fragmentation throughout their range has taken a toll on their populations just as it has for many other salamander species. Invasive plants and animals have made significant changes to the forests down south as well, altering forest communities. We can apply lessons learned from observing the changes impacting southern forests and their wildlife populations to our conservation strategies in the north. Although invasive species and development continues to encroach upon our forests, we still have opportunities to preserve  some of the ecologically important species – including native salamanders – that call our area home!