Species Profile

Spring Salamander Adirondack / Appalachian population

Scientific Name: Gyrinophilus porphyriticus
Taxonomy Group: Amphibians
Range: Quebec
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2011
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened


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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Spring Salamander

Description

The Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus) is among the largest species in the family Plethodontidae (lungless salamanders), reaching 23 cm in total length. Adults are usually pink or orange and possess dark and diffused reticulations, spots or streaks. The aquatic larvae have reddish gills, lack reticulations and become brightly coloured at metamorphosis. Both adults and larvae are characterized by a pale line from eye to snout, a pale belly, and a laterally compressed tail that forms a fin. In Canada, the species is represented by the most widely distributed subspecies, the Northern Spring Salamander (G. p. porphyriticus). (Updated 2017/08/30)

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Distribution and Population

The Spring Salamander has a patchy distribution in high-elevation streams along the Appalachian uplift of eastern North America. The species’ Canadian range extends from the US border to Kinnear’s Mills in Quebec. The Canadian distribution includes between 0.7% and 8.6% of the global range and is limited to elevations above 100 m on the outskirts of the Appalachian Mountains. Quebec populations occur within two areas: the Adirondack Piedmont and the Appalachian Mountains. The species has also been recorded from Niagara Regional Municipality in southern Ontario, but this population is considered extirpated. The species’ extent of occurrence (EO) in Canada is 17 237 km², of which the Adirondack Piedmont accounts for 50 km². (Updated 2017/08/30)

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Habitat

The species is mainly associated with headwater mountain streams with cool, well-oxygenated water, abundant rocky or gravelly substrates, and few predatory fish. Both adults and juveniles take refuge in interstitial spaces among rocks in the streambed. Adults may venture onto the stream bank to forage, whereas the strictly aquatic larvae remain in the stream. Eggs are laid under large rocks or other protective cover, submerged or partially embedded in the stream bank. The salamanders spend winter on the stream bottom or hidden under the stream bank, protected from freezing. Abundant forest cover is required to maintain essential habitat features. (Updated 2017/08/30)

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Biology

The Spring Salamander has a two-phase life cycle characterized by a long larval period lasting 3 to 6 years. Sexual maturity is generally attained within 1 year after metamorphosis, though maturation may be delayed at higher elevations. Mating occurs in summer or autumn and females oviposit annually. Fecundity increases with body size, and clutch size varies between 9 and 132 eggs across the species’ range. Hatching occurs in late summer or early autumn. Longevity is about 10 years. The Spring Salamander’s small size, permeable skin and aquatic life stage also make them susceptible to dehydration and water acidification. The species is territorial and nocturnal. Terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates are most commonly consumed, but Spring Salamanders may prey upon smaller salamanders including conspecifics. Dispersal occurs primarily upstream along stream corridors. Downstream movements are infrequent and relatively short rarely more than 10 m). Terrestrial movements of adults are generally restricted to within 2 m from the stream edge. (Updated 2017/08/30)

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Threats

Over the past 20 years, residential development and recreational infrastructure (e.g., ski resorts, golf courses) have significantly increased in the Appalachians, resulting in habitat loss throughout the species’ range. Housing developments and wind farms also threaten and degrade the species’ habitat. Alteration or reduction of water quality and water flow remain the principal threats to the Spring Salamander. Because of a long, strictly aquatic life stage, larvae are vulnerable to acidification and other changes in water conditions. The Spring Salamander is also vulnerable to contamination of water by pesticides and herbicides. Timber harvesting has negative effects on the species by altering water chemistry, temperature, quality or supply. Another important negative effect of timber harvesting onSpring Salamanders is that it increases silt which then fills the interstitial spaces used for foraging and shelter. An indirect effect is reduction of oxygen levels. Another threat, particularly to larvae, is predation by fish, especially introduced Brook Trout. The impact of Brook Trout increases when interstitial refuges become scarce from increased silt. (Updated 2017/08/30)

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Spring Salamander, Adirondack / Appalachian population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

6 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Spring Salamander, Adirondack / Appalachian and Carolinian populations Gyrinophilus porphyriticus in Canada (2011)

    The Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus) is among the largest species in the family Plethodontidae (lungless salamanders), reaching 23 cm in total length. Adults are usually pink or orange and possess dark and diffused reticulations, spots or streaks. The aquatic larvae have reddish gills, lack reticulations and become brightly coloured at metamorphosis. Both adults and larvae are characterized by a pale line from eye to snout, a pale belly, and a laterally compressed tail that forms a fin. In Canada, the species is represented by the most widely distributed subspecies, the Northern Spring Salamander (G. p. porphyriticus).

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Spring Salamander, Adirondack / Appalachian population (2011)

    This species occurs in clear, cool headwater streams in the Appalachians and Adirondacks of southeastern Québec. The species’ habitat is threatened by several kinds of development, including ski resorts, windfarms and golf courses that may alter water availability in the streams. Similarly, forestry activities affect the salamander’s habitat by reducing shade, altering stream temperatures and increasing silt. Introduction of predatory game fish is also a severe threat to the species’ larvae and adults.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2016)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2017)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances), and, given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects. List of Wildlife Species at Risk (referral back to COSEWIC) Order

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2011 (2011)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by February 8, 2012 for species undergoing normal consultations and by November 8, 2012 for species undergoing extended consultations.