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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Conservation Status of Amphibians in the Northeast

1. Overall Risk

Ambystoma opacumForty-three of 90 (48%) amphibian species in the Northeast are at some level of risk, i.e., species are listed in at least one NE state as either special concern (with or without protection), threatened, or endangered. These include 23 of 59 (39%) salamanders and 16 of 31 (52%) anurans. In the Northeast, the majority of declining amphibian species breed in streams and ephemeral pools according to Wyman (1992, unpublished data) in Vial and Saylor (1993). A potential cause for this is the fact that vernal pools and temporary streams are rarely protected by states in this region. For anurans, declines are primarily noted in the southern portions of the Northeast, which often corresponds to the northern limits of these species' ranges (Vial and Saylor 1993).

2. Federally Threatened and Endangered Species

Amphibians in the Northeast that are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 include the federally threatened Cheat Mountain salamander (Plethodon nettingi) and the federally endangered Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah).

State Extirpations

There are two cases in which native species have been extirpated (i.e., become locally extinct) from a state within the Northeast region. Both the greater siren (Siren lacertina) and the common mudpuppy (Necturus m. maculosus) are listed as extirpated from MD, though additional surveys need to be conducted. The single historical record for S. lacertina on the eastern shore of MD was later classified as S. intermedia. These two large salamander species are found in large rivers and swamps. Both are long-lived, bottom-dwelling carnivores and are susceptible to contaminant effects from bioaccumulation (Gendron et al. 1995).

State Threatened and Endangered Species

Beyond federally listed species, several species are included on state threatened and endangered lists in the Northeast. In some cases, these species are declining at the northern edges of their ranges. State listings tend to overemphasize distributional edges, and different states may list species based on different criteria.

Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)
State-endangered in MD
Eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma t. tigrinum)
State-endangered in DE, MD, NJ, NY, VA
Blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale)
State-endangered in NJ
State-threatened in CT
Marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum)
State-endangered in NH
State-threatened in MA
Mabee's salamander (Ambystoma mabeei)
State-threatened in VA
Green salamander (Aneides aeneus)
State-endangered in MD
State-threatened in PA
Eastern mud salamander (Pseudotriton m. montanus)
State-endangered in PA
State-threatened in NJ
Northern spring salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)
State-threatened in CT
Long-tailed salamander (Eurycea longicauda)
State-threatened in NJ
Northern slimy salamander (Plethodon glutinosus)
State-threatened in CT
Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah)
State-endangered in VA
Barking tree frog (Hyla gratiosa)
State-endangered in DE, MD
State-threatened in VA
Eastern spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii)
State-endangered in CT
State-threatened in MA
Eastern spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii)
State-endangered in CT, PA, RI
State-threatened in MA
Northern cricket frog (Acris crepitans)
State-endangered in NY
Pine barrens treefrog (Hyla andersonii)
State-threatened in NJ
Barking tree frog (Hyla gratiosa)
State-endangered in DE, MD
State-threatened in VA
Southern gray treefrog (Hyla chrysocelis)
State-endangered in NJ
New Jersey Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata kalmi)
State-endangered in PA
Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata)
State-endangered in VT
Mountain chorus frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)
State-endangered in MD
Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)
State-endangered in MD
Coastal Plain Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala)
State-endangered in PA
Species with limited distributions in the Northeast could be particularly susceptible to catastrophes or demographic or environmental stochastic events. Examples of these species include Siren intermedia, Necturus punctatus, Ambystoma barbouri, A. talpoideum, A. texanum, Gyrinophilus subterraneus, Plethodon hubrichti, and P. shenandoah.

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References

Gendron, A.D., C.A. Bishop, J.L. DesGranges, G. Van Der Kraak, R. Fortin, and A. Hontela. 1995. Impact of reproductive and developmental toxicants of wild populations of mudpuppy in Quebec and Ontario. DAPCAN V Abstracts, Fifth Annual Meeting of the Task Force on Declining Amphibian Populations in Canada, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 1995, Canada Centre for Inland Waters, Burlington, Ontario.

Vial, J.L., and L. Saylor. 1993. The Status of Amphibian Populations: A Compilation and Analysis. IUCN/SSC Declining Amphibian Population Task Force Document No. 1. 98 pp.

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