Range delimitation of a North Carolina endemic salamander, the Blue Ridge Gray-Cheeked Salamander, Plethodon amplus

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Louisa Collins Heidler (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/
Joseph Pechmann

Abstract: The Southern Appalachian Mountains are a global hotspot for salamander biodiversity including many endemic species. These endemic montane salamanders have limited ranges and are vulnerable to anthropogenically induced habitat shifts. Plethodon amplus (the Blue Ridge Gray-Cheeked Salamander) is a North Carolina endemic salamander whose current published range is likely inaccurate due to data deficiencies. Plethodon amplus is visually indistinguishable from other Gray-Cheeked Salamanders which occupy adjacent mountain ranges, making it difficult to locate exact boundary lines between species. To re-delineate the range of P. amplus, I collected tissue samples from Gray-Cheeked Salamanders from sites surrounding and within the known range of P. amplus. I extracted DNA from each tissue sample then amplified and sequenced mt DNA using primers for three protein-coding regions. This study found evidence that current published boundary lines for two of the Gray-Cheeked Salamander species (P. amplus and P. meridianus) are larger than currently accepted. The results did not indicate clear species boundaries and suggested that there was likely genetic exchange between species in their past evolutionary history which led to mitochondrial capture. Future studies using next-generation sequencing techniques will be necessary to draw accurate boundary lines between species of Gray-Cheeked Salamander.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Plethodon amplus, Plethodontidae, range delineation, salamander, Southern Appalachian Mountains
Lungless salamanders
Endemic animals

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