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Berry Cave Salamander - Gyrinophilus gulolineatus
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Berry Cave Salamander - Gyrinophilus gulolineatus

[Image: Berry-cave-salamander.jpg]

Scientific classification
Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum:  Chordata
Class:  Amphibia
Order:  Caudata
Family:  Plethodontidae
Genus:  Gyrinophilus
Species:  Gyrinophilus gulolineatus Brandon, 1965

The Berry Cave salamander (Gyrinophilus gulolineatus) is a species of salamander in the family Plethodontidae, endemic to the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians of eastern Tennessee in the United States. Its natural habitat is inland karsts where it lives underground. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Description
This salamander resembles the Tennessee cave salamander (Gyrinophilus palleucus) but grows to a larger size, has a more spatulate snout, a broader head and more pigmentation. The premaxilla bones at the tip of the snout are completely divided in adults of this species while they are not in the Tennessee cave salamander. The larvae have small, functional eyes and they can detect vibrations in the water with the help of mechanoreceptors which are located on the head and sides. If they proceed to the full adult state, their eyes become functionless.

[Image: Berry-cave-salamander-head-detail.jpg]

Distribution
This salamander is known from caves in the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians of eastern Tennessee; its range is smaller than that of the spring salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus) and is completely inside it, and the two species sometimes inhabit the same cave systems.

Biology
Phylogenetic analysis using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA seems to indicate that the Berry Cave salamander and the Tennessee cave salamander have diverged from the spring salamander only recently. The Berry Cave salamander is usually a paedomorphic species which does not undergo metamorphosis to an adult stage, instead remaining and breeding in the larval state, retaining its juvenile traits for the rest of its life.

Status
G. gulolineatus inhabits a limited number of caverns in the mountains of East Tennessee, and the total area it occupies is less than 5,000 km2 (1,900 sq mi). In the Berry Cave for which it was named, the population seems to be declining, and its population overall is unknown. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as "endangered" and advocates protection of the watersheds that drain into the underground systems in which it lives.



Researchers discover record-breaking salamander


January 25, 2019, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

[Image: 21-researchersd.jpg]
The largest specimen of Berry Cave Salamander measures 9.3 inches. Credit: Nicholas Gladstone/University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Researchers at UT have discovered the largest individual of any cave salamander in North America, a 9.3-inch specimen of Berry Cave salamander. The finding was published in Subterranean Biology.

"The record represents the largest individual within the genus Gyrinophilus, the largest body size of any cave-obligate salamander and the largest salamander within the Plethodontidae family in the United States," said Nicholas Gladstone, a graduate student in UT's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, who made the discovery.

The find is making scientists reexamine growth limits of these animals in harsh environments and how hospitable underground environments really are.

Salamanders can be found in a variety of habitats across Tennessee. Some species have adapted to live in cave environments, which are thought of as extreme and inhospitable ecosystems due to the absence of light and limited resources.

Salamanders are one of only two vertebrate animal groups to have successfully colonized caves. The other is fish, said Gladstone.

The record-breaking specimen had some damage to the tail, leading researchers to believe that it was once nearly 10 inches long.

The Berry Cave Salamander can be found in only 10 sites in eastern Tennessee, and in 2003 it was placed on the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Candidate Species List for federal protection.

"This research will hopefully motivate additional conservation efforts for this rare and vulnerable species," said Gladstone.

https://phys.org/news/2019-01-record-bre...ander.html


Journal Reference:
Nicholas S. Gladstone et al, A new maximum body size record for the Berry Cave Salamander (Gyrinophilus gulolineatus) and genus Gyrinophilus (Caudata, Plethodontidae) with a comment on body size in plethodontid salamanders, Subterranean Biology (2018). DOI: 10.3897/subtbiol.28.30506

Abstract
Lungless salamanders in the family Plethodontidae exhibit an impressive array of life history strategies and occur in a diversity of habitats, including caves. However, relationships between life history, habitat, and body size remain largely unresolved. During an ongoing study on the demography and life history of the paedomorphic, cave-obligate Berry Cave Salamander (Gyrinophilus gulolineatus, Brandon 1965), we discovered an exceptionally large individual from the type locality, Berry Cave, Roane County, Tennessee, USA. This salamander measured 145 mm in body length and represents not only the largest G. gulolineatusand Gyrinophilus ever reported, but also the largest plethodontid salamander in the United States. We discuss large body size in G. gulolineatus and compare body size in other large plethodontid salamanders in relation to life history and habitat.

https://subtbiol.pensoft.net/article/30506/
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