RALEIGH, N.C. (Feb. 13)
- It's not easy being green, but green salamanders in North Carolina may not be as imperiled as once believed.
A N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission project has found that the green salamander, one of the state's endangered species, is more widespread and abundant than previous research had indicated.
This green salamander monitoring project gets funding thanks to the generosity of anyone using the Tax Check-off Option on North Carolina income tax forms. The check-off lets anyone due a refund of $1 or more contribute any or all of it to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund. This fund is used to meet required matches of federal wildlife grants to conduct research and management activities.
"We've still got a lot to learn about them. We still don't know why populations were down in the last couple of decades, or if they've fully recovered," said Lori Williams, a wildlife diversity biologist with the Commission in the mountains.
Green salamanders are substantially different from other native salamanders in North Carolina. The 4- to 5-inch amphibian, ranging in color from neon green to a mustard yellow, with a lichen-like splotch pattern on the back, is not typically found hiding under a log or swimming in a pool or stream. It is more likely to be in a moist, shady rock outcropping, or in a tree near an outcropping, as biologists have recently documented.
"Now that we know how important trees, as well as rock outcrops, are to green salamanders, we have more direction for conserving their habitats," Williams said. "It's crucial to protect not only the rocks themselves but also the trees around them."
Commission biologists, along with volunteers, have recorded triple the number of previously known locations for green salamanders. In the years to come, biologists will continue to monitor green salamander populations, look for new sites and work to protect their habitats.
Biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission have used tax check-off donations to support projects benefiting sea turtles, pelicans, freshwater mussels, northern flying squirrels, bald eagles and dozens of other species, as well as conservation of clean water, natural habitats and abundant wildlife for future generations of North Carolinians.
To contribute to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund, enter an amount on line 26 of your North Carolina income tax form. If you are not eligible for a refund, but would still like to contribute, donations can be sent to: Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund, 1722 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1722. All donations are tax-deductible.
The Green Salamander
The green salamander is one of 56 species of salamanders found living in North Carolina. Approximately 5 inches in length, this amphibian can live as long as 10 years in the wild, where it's typical environment is lichen-covered rocks and mossy tree branches.
Some interesting facts about the green salamander:
- Occurs in two relatively small areas in the mountains of western North Carolina.
- Usually active at night, enjoying the cooler and wetter conditions created by mountain fog and evening dew.
- Has padded toes that have square tips - all the better for climbing.
- Has a flat body that allows it to squeeze into tiny crevices, which provide both protection from predators and the high humidity it needs.
- Like many other salamanders, does not have lungs but, instead, absorbs oxygen and releases carbon dioxide through its skin.