Permanent Camp: Jordan’s Salamander

Permanent Camp: Jordan’s Salamander

Story by George Ellison and Frances Figart, with illustration by Elizabeth Ellison

In GSMA’s Species-a-Day perpetual calendar, Jordan’s salamander appears on December 10, where it is written: “Jordan’s red-cheeked salamander is found only in the Southern Appalachians, with most of the known range being in the park. Like other lungless salamanders, it respires through its skin.” 

Jordan's salamander is but one of the 350 or so salamander species we humans are currently sharing the planet Earth with. It is but one of the 31 or so salamander species found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Most of its geographic range is limited to the confines of GSMNP, where it flourishes under logs and rocks above 2,400 feet. According to NPS Science Coordinator Paul Super, Plethodon jordani was split into several species a number of years ago, and the name P. jordani “now applies only to the species that occurs in the park. It was thought to occur only within the park boundary until a few years ago, when a population was found in a corner of the Qualla Boundary.”

In A Natural History Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMA 2008), David W. Linzey reported that in “June 1982 an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 red-cheeked [i.e., Jordan's] salamanders were observed by two rangers along Clingmans Dome Road.”

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