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Georgia blind salamander

Listing Status

  • Federal Status: Not Listed
  • FL Status: State Threatened
  • FNAI Ranks: G2/S2 (Imperiled)
  • IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)

Appearance

The Georgia blind salamander is classified as an aquatic triglobite because it lives in an underground water environment and is adapted to dark caves.  This small amphibian can reach a length of one to two inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters).  Georgia blind salamanders have a white body with a yellow or pink tint, red external gills, and a long flat head (Means 1992, Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).  They also have no eyes; an inherited evolutionary trait due to their dark habitat.

Life History

The diet of the Georgia blind salamander primarily consists of small aquatic invertebrates, such as seed shrimp and amphipods (Lee 1969).

Little is known about the reproduction of the Georgia blind salamander.  Pregnant females have been found in May and November (Means 1992).

Habitat

Georgia blind salamander map

The Georgia blind salamander is confined to underground streams and pools in caves and sinkholes where it typically lives in complete darkness.  This species is found in Jackson, Washington, and Calhoun counties in Florida, but can also be found in Dougherty and Decatur counties in Georgia (Hammerson 2004; Florida Natural Areas Inventory unpubl. data).

Threats

The Georgia blind salamander is affected considerably by the actions of humans.  The main threats to the Georgia blind salamander are water pollution, water level changes, and collection by humans.  Sources of water pollution include septic tank effluent, fertilizers, pesticides, hazardous wastes, surface runoff, waste from cattle ranches and dairy farms, and siltation and erosion caused by divers and recreationalists in caves, springs, sinkholes, and in the vicinity of blind salamander sites (Brandt and Jackson 2003).  Water levels can drop when increased water is pumped out of wells, causing the blind salamanders habitat to dry up. 

Conservation and Management

The Georgia blind salamander is protected as State Threatened by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.

Biological Status Review (BSR)

Supplemental Information for the BSR

Species Action Plan

References

Brandt, K., and D. R. Jackson.  2003.  Protecting the habitat of the Florida cave salamander in  Jackson County’s spring caves.  Final Report to Florida Dept. Environmental Protection, Research Grant Agreement. Tallahassee, FL, 18 pp.

 Florida Natural Areas Inventory.  2001.  Field guide to the rare animals of Florida.
http://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Haideotriton_wallacei.PDF

 Hammerson, G. 2004. Eurycea wallacei. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 October 2010.

 Lee, D. S. 1969. A food study of the salamander Haideotriton wallacei Carr. Herpetologica   25:175-177.

 Means, D. B. 1992. Georgia Blind Salamander, Haideotriton wallacei Carr. Pages 49-53 in P. E. Moler, editor: Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Volume III. Amphibians and reptiles. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.