Robert L. Morgan III and S. Conor Keitzer
Salamanders in northeast Tennessee face a number of potential threats, including climate and land use change. However, the current status and distribution of species in much of this area, which is important fundamental information for effective species management, are not well documented in the literature or public data sources. To help increase knowledge of salamander species in this area, we conducted salamander transect surveys (n = 246) from May 2017 to October 2019 across 70 transects within the Cherokee National Forest (CNF) of southern Greene County, Tennessee. Transects covered a wide range of elevations (500 – 965 m) and forest types and were located in five different publicly accessible areas. We observed 11 different species of salamanders, with an additional 10 species of herpetofauna documented. The Carolina Mountain Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus carolinensis), Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus), and Northern Slimy Salamander (P. glutinosus) were the most common species observed. We also found the Yonahlossee Salamander (P. yonahlossee) further west than it had previously been documented in Tennessee. From a standpoint of conservation planning, we found that higher elevation locations (> 700 m) were more diverse, highlighting the need for protection of high elevation forested ecosystems, which harbor much of the salamander diversity found in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Key Words.—conservation, distribution, diversity, elevation effect, natural history, Yonahlossee salamander