Peaks of Otter Salamander

Plethodon hubrichti
Thurow, 1957
Bedford Co., Virginia. April 25, 2006.

“I had to get going if I was going to have a chance at my third species, the Peaks of Otter Salamander, Plethodon hubrichti. Here was another small salamander with a range limited to a few mountains, in this case the Peaks of Otter region in central Virginia. I’ve always been intrigued by the name – any salamander with ‘Otter’ in its name was a salamander I wanted to see. Back over the twisting two-lanes I went, then down the interstate for a while, then more two-lanes…all the while the late afternoon sky was filling with dark clouds. I pulled over into the parking area near a likely trail head, looked at the sky and tossed my poncho into my knapsack – it was a question of when and not if the rain was coming.

Lady luck, skill, mojo, fortunate happenstance, call it what you will, I had it right then, because under the first bit of wood I lifted, not a yard from the parking lot, was a Peaks of Otter Salamander. I was done; the day’s trifecta was mine. This was another pretty species, with gold flecking on the dorsum against a dark background. Plethodon hubrichti is closely related to the P. shenandoah I had seen earlier in the day, and to P. nettingi over in eastern West Virginia; apparently all shared a common, but now vanished ancestral form that was once widespread over the area. All three salamanders have slowly became genetically distinct, isolated on their mountaintops. I wondered if there were any more ‘sky island’ relict species still waiting to be discovered.”
The Great Salamander Swing 

My Flickr album for this species is here.

HerpMapper records for this species are here.

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