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
HerpMapper records for this species are here.