Moist habitats :A factor influencing distributions of Plethodon shenandoah and Plethodon cinereus

Bair, Mary Willeford
Tom Wessels, MA
Department of Environmental Studies
Plants associations were examined for two species of Plethodontid salamanders in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Plethodon Shenandoah is a federally listed engendered species that occurs in talus on only three mountains in Shenandoah National Park. Populations of the more cosmopolitan soil inhabitant Plethodon cinereus surround all known isolates. It has been generally accepted that P. Shenandoah lives in drier habitats that P. cinereus. Since vegetation can be a reliable indicator of site conditions, a survey of plants associated with each salamander species was conducted. Plant canopy and understory species with an affinity to moisture comprised a greater percentage of area in P. Shenandoah plots. This indicates that the talus areas P. Shenandoah inhabits are moister sites than the surrounding soil where P. cinereus is found.

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