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Georgia Distribution and Characterization of Species Within the Eurycea quadridigitata Complex

Sean P. Graham1, Donald Walker2, Crystal Kelehear1, John B. Jensen3, Khorizon Dunn4, and Craig Guyer4,*

1Department of Biology, Geology, and Physical Sciences, Sul Ross State University, Alpine, TX 79832. 2Department of Biology, Box 0060, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. 3Conservation Matters, LLC, PO Box 662, Monticello, GA 31064. 4Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 21, Issue 2 (2022): 125–139

We performed systematic surveys for members of the Eurycea quadridigitata (Dwarf Salamander) complex in Georgia to determine the distribution of member species. Over 409 person-hours of search effort, we sampled 211 locations in 38 counties, detecting 108 individuals, including many that bridge substantial distribution gaps. Molecular data document Georgia specimens belong to 2 species, E. hillisi and E. quadridigitata. No specimens attributable to E. chamberlaini were found in Georgia, indicating this species has a distribution restricted to South and North Carolina. We used color patterns and measures of body size and shape of specimens identified by molecular methods to separate 4 species of 4-toed Eurycea from the Coastal Plain of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Large body size and the presence of melanophores across the chin and surrounding the cloaca separated E. quadridigitata from all others. Additionally, E. sphagnicola and E. quadridigitata possessed dark sides to the body and tail, with these features being disrupted by irregular white stripes or spots. In contrast, E. chamberlaini and E. hillisi possessed light sides to the body and tail that lacked irregular white stripes. Small body size distinguished E. sphagnicola from E. quadridigitata, but no feature distinguished E. chamberlaini from E. hillisi.

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