Spring Salamander Adirondack / Appalachian population
Scientific Name: Gyrinophilus porphyriticus
Taxonomy Group: Amphibians
COSEWIC Range: Quebec
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2011
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(ii,iii,iv,v)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation:
This species occurs in clear, cool headwater streams in the Appalachians and Adirondacks of southeastern Québec. The species’ habitat is threatened by several kinds of development, including ski resorts, windfarms and golf courses that may alter water availability in the streams. Similarly, forestry activities affect the salamander’s habitat by reducing shade, altering stream temperatures and increasing silt. Introduction of predatory game fish is also a severe threat to the species’ larvae and adults.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1999 and May 2002. Split into two populations in May 2011. The Adirondack / Appalachian population was designated Threatened in May 2011.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2005-01-12
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
The Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus) is among the largest species in the family Plethodontidae (lungless salamanders), reaching 23 cm in total length. Adults are usually pink or orange and possess dark and diffused reticulations, spots or streaks. The aquatic larvae have reddish gills, lack reticulations and become brightly coloured at metamorphosis. Both adults and larvae are characterized by a pale line from eye to snout, a pale belly, and a laterally compressed tail that forms a fin. In Canada, the species is represented by the most widely distributed subspecies, the Northern Spring Salamander (G. p. porphyriticus). [Updated by COSEWIC – May. 2011]
Distribution and Population
The Spring Salamander has a patchy distribution in high-elevation streams along the Appalachian uplift of eastern North America. The species’ Canadian range extends from the US border to Kinnear’s Mills in Quebec. The Canadian distribution includes between 0.7% and 8.6% of the global range and is limited to elevations above 100 m on the outskirts of the Appalachian Mountains. Quebec populations occur within two areas: the Adirondack Piedmont and the Appalachian Mountains. The species has also been recorded from Niagara Regional Municipality in southern Ontario, but this population is considered extirpated. The species’ extent of occurrence (EO) in Canada is 17 237 km2, of which the Adirondack Piedmont accounts for 50 km2. [Updated by COSEWIC – May. 2011]
The species is mainly associated with headwater mountain streams with cool, well-oxygenated water, abundant rocky or gravelly substrates, and few predatory fish. Both adults and juveniles take refuge in interstitial spaces among rocks in the streambed. Adults may venture onto the stream bank to forage, whereas the strictly aquatic larvae remain in the stream. Eggs are laid under large rocks or other protective cover, submerged or partially embedded in the stream bank. The salamanders spend winter on the stream bottom or hidden under the stream bank, protected from freezing. Abundant forest cover is required to maintain essential habitat features. [Updated by COSEWIC – May. 2011]
The Spring Salamander has a two-phase life cycle characterized by a long larval period lasting 3 to 6 years. Sexual maturity is generally attained within 1 year after metamorphosis, though maturation may be delayed at higher elevations. Mating occurs in summer or autumn and females oviposit annually. Fecundity increases with body size, and clutch size varies between 9 and 132 eggs across the species’ range. Hatching occurs in late summer or early autumn. Longevity is about 10 years. The Spring Salamander’s small size, permeable skin and aquatic life stage also make them susceptible to dehydration and water acidification. The species is territorial and nocturnal. Terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates are most commonly consumed, but Spring Salamanders may prey upon smaller salamanders including conspecifics. Dispersal occurs primarily upstream along stream corridors. Downstream movements are infrequent and relatively short (rarely more than 10 m). Terrestrial movements of adults are generally restricted to within 2 m from the stream edge. [Updated by COSEWIC – May. 2011]
Over the past 20 years, residential development and recreational infrastructure (e.g., ski resorts, golf courses) have significantly increased in the Appalachians, resulting in habitat loss throughout the species’ range. Housing developments and wind farms also threaten and degrade the species’ habitat. Alteration or reduction of water quality and water flow remain the principal threats to the Spring Salamander. Because of a long, strictly aquatic life stage, larvae are vulnerable to acidification and other changes in water conditions. The Spring Salamander is also vulnerable to contamination of water by pesticides and herbicides. Timber harvesting has negative effects on the species by altering water chemistry, temperature, quality or supply. Another important negative effect of timber harvesting onSpring Salamanders is that it increases silt which then fills the interstitial spaces used for foraging and shelter. An indirect effect is reduction of oxygen levels. Another threat, particularly to larvae, is predation by fish, especially introduced Brook Trout. The impact of Brook Trout increases when interstitial refuges become scarce from increased silt. [Updated by COSEWIC – May. 2011]
The Spring Salamander, Adirondack / Appalachian population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
9 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Management Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
- Related Information (2 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011-09-09)Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.