Skip to main content

Plethodon cinereus (Eastern Red-backed Salamander) Movement.


S.C. Sterrett

Evan Grant

A.B. Brand

W.R. Fields

Rachel Katz

Publication Type:
Year of Publication:
Secondary Title:
Herpetological Review 46:71


[Full text] Lungless salamanders (family Plethodontidae) are relatively sedentary and are presumed to have limited dis- persal ability (Marsh et al. 2004. Ecology 85:3396–3405). Site fi- delity in Plethodontidae is high, and individuals displaced 90 m return to home territories (Kleeberger and Werner 1982. Copeia 1982:409–415). Individuals defend territories (Jaeger et al. 1982. Anim. Behav. 30:490–496) and female home ranges have been es- timated to be 24.34 m2 (Kleeberger and Werner 1982, op. cit.). Fe- males may seek out suitable subsurface habitat to oviposit eggs, yet little is known about their maximum movement distances (Petranka 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington. 587 pp.). On 18 September 2014, a female P. cinereus (lead back morphotype; SVL = 44.68 mm; 0.89 g) was found under a coverboard during a standard sampling event and uniquely marked using visual implant elastomer at the S.O. Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center, Massachusetts, USA (42.59280\textdegreeN, 72.58070\textdegreeW, datum WGS84; elev. 74 m). This individual was subsequently recaptured at ~1500 h on 8 October 2014 under a coverboard within 3 m of the original capture location and then again ~1430 h on 16 October 2014 under a log, within the same forest patch, though in a 50 x 150 m area adjacent to the original study area. Because we found the marked salamander while collecting multiple individuals for a laboratory study, the exact recapture location of the marked individual is not known. However, the distance between the 8 October capture location and the nearest edge of the 16 October search area (i.e. 50 x 150 m) was 143 m, indicating a minimum movement distance. As far as we are aware, this is the longest recorded movement for P. cinereus by more than 53 m (Kleeberger and Werner 1982, op. cit.). This finding followed a rain event of 1.63 cm within 24 h and the second largest sustained rain event during October. The movement we observed may have been due to disturbance from handling and marking, although this was minimized in the field.