Photo Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ambystoma cingulatum (Cope)
OTHER NAMES: None.
DESCRIPTION: A medium-sized (up to about 12 cm [5 in.] long) salamander, with a relatively small head and long, fat tail. Adults blackish with fine light gray or white lines on the back and sides, forming a reticulum or netlike pattern; lines often fainter on top of the back. Belly with small, light specks. Small grooves below nostril on upper lip absent. Larvae brown and broad-headed with bushy external gills; white belly; sides of the body with a single, narrow yellow or white longitudinal stripe. Light brown face has a thin dark brown stripe passing through eye from nostril to external gills. No other broad-headed salamander larva has conspicuous lateral stripes.
DISTRIBUTION: Restricted to the southeastern
HABITAT: Pine flatwoods. Larvae found in shallow pondcypress or blackgum ponds, marshy pasture ponds, roadside ditches, or small, shallow borrow pits (Palis and Means 2003). Adults live underground in the longleaf pine flatwoods surrounding breeding sites and may be dependent upon some microhabitat aspect of the wiregrass dominated groundcover for long-term survival (Means et al. 1996).
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: Secretive. One of only two members of family that breed in fall. Adults migrate to breeding sites during rainy weather in October and November, before ponds fill with water, where they court (Anderson and Williamson 1976). Females lay groups of one to 35 eggs (for a total of up to at least 225) at the bases of bushes, small trees, and clumps of grass, usually in lowest parts of depressions in shallow water or in wet vegetation on land. Eggs laid on land in lowest parts of depressions begin developing immediately, but larvae remain within the eggs until heavy rains fill the depressions. Hatching usually occurs in Decem-ber or January. Larvae live an aquatic life for about three months in shallow ponds without fish, and usually are associated with emergent grasses and sedges. Metamorphosis occurs in March and April (Palis 1995). Post-larval life unknown, but some evidence that metamorphosed individuals can disperse up to 1.7 kilometers (approximately one mile) from breeding ponds (Ashton 1992). Captive-raised metamorphs reached adult size in one year, but growth rates in the field unknown. Age at maturity, longevity, survivorship, and limiting factors are important aspects little studied.
BASIS FOR STATUS CLASSIFICATION: Entire distribution small and no individuals found in
Author: D. Bruce Means