Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mountain Dusky Salamander

In the snowbelt counties of northeast Ohio, there is a small, emphemeral stream dwelling salamander not found elsewhere in the state. This guy is the mountain dusky, so called because it is common in mountainous areas of Pennsylvania. Fortuneately, we also get this guy in the glaciated plateau of northeastern ohio. While doing some botanizing for the division last september, I found a mountain dusky in a small spring fed stream trickling down to the floodplain of Conneaut Creek. Only today did I confirm this identification using a Powell, Collins and Hooper's "A key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada." The giveaway? Well, we only have two common species of Desmognathus in northeast Ohio, and the northern dusky is a big bulky salamander. The guy I found was small and delicate. I should have known that the northern dusky, Desmognathus fuscus, also posseses a keel on the upperside of the base of its tail, while the mountain dusky, Desmognathus ochrophaeus, lacks this characteristic. I managed to get a few quick shots of this incredible salamander, that is only found in one small corner of our great state.



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