Larval life history and abundance of a rare salamander, Eurycea junaluska (Plethodontidae)

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Journal of Herpetology

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The larval life history of Eurycea junaluska was studied in three southwestern North Carolina populations. Populations were sampled quarterly over a 13 mo period and size-class analyses were used to evaluate the pattern of larval growth and metamorphosis. Young of the year appeared in the late spring and experienced rapid growth through the first summer. Growth slowed in the second year and metamorphosis usually occured in the summer at about 25.5 mo post-hatching, although some data suggest that either 1yr or 3yr larval periods may be possible. The overall larval growth rate of E. junaluska is estimated at 1.27 mm/mo, much higher than in other stream-dwelling plethodontids. This species typically represents only about 10% of the larval Eurycea community, with adults even less common. The relative scarcity of individuals and the significant distance between documented populations raises concern about long term population viability in the face of declines due to either natural or anthropogenic causes, or both.


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