Soliciting for Slimy Salamander locales [research]

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Soliciting for Slimy Salamander locales [research]

Post by PBM » March 24th, 2017, 9:27 am

Hello Everyone,

I am soliciting for some help for a Master's thesis I am running out of Trent University in Ontario, Canada.

Many of you may have read about Blue-spotted/Jefferson Salamander hybrids in various field guides over your herping careers. A wealth of genetic information about these "hybrids" have revealed they are in fact something quite different. These bizarre salamanders are all females, and steal sperm from males of other species to instigate their own reproduction. They do indeed steal [parasitize] spermatophores from Blue-spotted and Jefferson Salamander (hence why they appear as "hybrids"), but they also steal genetic material from male Tiger, Smallmouth, and Streamside Salamanders as well.

A sampler of unisexual "types". If L is laterale, J is jeffersonianum, T is texanum, Ti is tigrinum, and B is barbouri, the complements of DNA in these salamanders' cells are, clockwise from top left: LJJB, LJTi, LLJ, LJJ, LTTi, LJTTi, LTT. Yes, most unisexuals have three sets of chromosomes, rather than the norm of two.

So, this system is a fascinating mix of biological principles where these creatures are both parasites of a host, and phenotypic hybrids of that host. As a result, these animals break a lot of "traditional" biological rules.

I am looking at what limits the distribution of these all-female "unisexual" parasites. Below is an image of a suitability map for these unisexuals, which reflects their environmental tolerances and access to a species that they can steal sperm from.


One thing I am keen to test is how competition with other species of salamanders influences this overall distribution. In short, I am interested in gathering a collection of records for Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus, and group). I can pair these records with environmental data to generate what is called a species-distribution model (like the map above). Comparison of different maps can facilitate assessing if species exclude one another from different regions through competition.

That said, I don’t need hundreds of records. In fact final models usually run best when the data is relatively evenly spread out, meaning that having approximately 10 records for each state that P. glutinosus occurs in is probably all I require.

If you are keen to contribute:

1. Records should fall within my overall study area, here:


2. Latitude and Longitude points (in decimal degrees) can easily be gathered here:

3. You could generate and fill out a spreadsheet like this, below:


4. You could email me the spreadsheet at [email protected]

5. You might also include a photo of P. glutinosus which serves as a voucher for your ID abilities.

Observers whose records are used in the final analysis will be credited in the final manuscript. Lastly, locality information will not be shared outside of this project!


Peter Mills

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Re: Soliciting for Slimy Salamander locales [research]

Post by NewYorkHerper16 » March 31st, 2017, 8:06 am

Very interesting project! I have a couple records I could contribute if you still need any from New York. Both locations have robust populations of P. glutinosis.


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Re: Soliciting for Slimy Salamander locales [research]

Post by PBM » April 5th, 2017, 7:50 am

I am keen to get my hands on anything you may offer! Any locales could go right to [email protected] !

Best, and Sincerely,


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Re: Soliciting for Slimy Salamander locales [research]

Post by NACairns » April 12th, 2017, 7:51 am

Sounds like a fun project, I won't be much help but hopefully folks here will have some additional locals for you. Good luck Peter.

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Re: Soliciting for Slimy Salamander locales [research]

Post by mtratcliffe » April 13th, 2017, 6:48 am


I recommend submitting a data request to H.E.R.P. ( for approval to release all P. glutinosis records that have been submitted to the database.

Good luck with your research!

- Matt

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Re: Soliciting for Slimy Salamander locales [research]

Post by TJP » April 26th, 2017, 12:14 am

I don't think I've posted more than once or twice on here over the last several years, but I do pop on here every once in awhile and can give you some population info from NY, as well. Unfortunately, the pictures I had are going to be difficult to find. But, I'll see what I can do if you need more locale's. Glutinosis are a welcomed find amidst the numerous redback's and two lined's I always seem to find at one of my spots. They definitely WAY outnumber the slimy's. I'll be headed there in May. Pending on where you live in Canada, it might not be too far of a drive for you and you can have a look for yourself.

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