Population Dynamics and conservation of the Peaks of Otter Salamander, Plethodon hubrichti

Peter Kramer
Norman Reichenbach, Liberty University
Michael Hayslett
Paul W. Sattler, Liberty University

Document Type Article

Published in the Journal of Herpetology, 27:431-435.


A study was conducted in 1991 on the population dynamics of the Peaks of Otter salamander, Plethodon hubrichti, a salamander with an extremely limited distribution. From a 10 m x 10 m site in central Virginia, a total of 250 P. hubrichti were collected with 42 recaptures. The population size for p, hubrichti was estimated to be 450 salamanders. There was a slightly clumped distribution of salamanders throughout the site. The overall growth rate for young of the year was 0.10 mm/d and 0.08 to 0.11 mm/d for older animals. Surface activity occurred primarily between 2100 and 2300 h in the spring, 2200 and 2400 h in the summer, and 2000 and 2300 h in the fall. There was a positive linear relationship between the percentage of surface-active salamanders and the number of days between rains. Salamanders were often observed on vegetation; the percentage of salamanders on vegetation increased in relation to understory denseness. The median area for home ranges was 0.6 m2; with this limited movement, the potential for fragmentation of the population was discussed. An alternative study plot design was considered based upon the clumped distribution and limited movements. The use of three 4 m x 4 m plots instead of one 10 m x 10 m plot reduced the amount of field time by 20% while still obtaining similar information.