Herpetofauna: One Life's List

Plethodon hubrichti
Peaks of Otter Salamander

Floyd Co., Virginia
April 23, 2006

"...I've always been intrigued by the name  - any salamander with 'Otter' in its name was a salamander I wanted to see. Back over the twisting two-lanes I went, then down the interstate for a while, then more two-lanes...all the while the late afternoon sky was filling with dark clouds. I pulled over into the parking area near a likely trail head, looked at the sky and tossed my poncho into my knapsack - it was a question of when and not if the rain was coming.

Lady luck, skill, mojo, fortunate happenstance, call it what you will, I had it right then, because under the first bit of wood I lifted, not a yard from the parking lot, was a Peaks of Otter Salamander. I was done; the day's trifecta was mine. This was another pretty species, with gold flecking on the dorsum against a dark background.  Plethodon hubrichti is closely related to the P. shenandoah I had seen earlier in the day, and to P. nettingi over in eastern West Virginia; apparently all shared a common, but now vanished ancestral form that was once widespread over the area. All three salamanders have slowly became genetically distinct, isolated on their mountaintops..."

Day Three, The Great Salamander Swing






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