Description: The flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum)
is a member of the family Ambystomatidae. Species in this family
are known as mole salamanders because of their fossorial lifestyle.
Adult total length ranges from 3.5-5.3 in (9-13.5 cm); while the
larvae range from 0.5-1 in (10-19 mm) TL. Adults are a dark
gray or black color on the dorsum with a pattern of light
gray or grayish brown markings that form reticulations, a frosted
lichenlike pattern, or small annuli. The dark gray venter
of adults is covered with lighter gray spots or flecks. The larvae
are a brown color with a light yellow or tan vertebral stripe
bordered by light lateral stripes. Dark stripes also run from
the snout to the gills of larval specimens. Recent metamorphs
often show some sign of larval markings like the vertebral stripe.
Range and Habitat: Flatwoods salamanders occur throughout
the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains of southern Alabama, Georgia,
South Carolina, and northern Florida but are widly scattered in
distribution. They prefer open longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)
or slash pine (Pinus elliottii) flatwoods or savannas with
wiregrass (Aristida stricta). These habitats are prone
to fire, and adults spend a majority of their life underground.
Temporary, fishless, wetland depressions are also critical to
larvae of this species.
Habits: Flatwoods salamanders migrate to breeding sites
in the fall and winter. The eggs are laid terrestrially near crayfish
burrows or under logs, leaves, bushes, and other detritus found
in low elevation dry wetlands. The eggs hatch when winter rains
fill the dry pond basin.
Conservation Status: The flatwoods salamander is currently
listed as a federally threatened species and vulnerable under
the IUCN Redlist. Destruction of habitat is the primary threat.
Means, D. B., J. G. Palis, and M. Baggett. 1996. Effects of Slash
Pine Silviculture on a Florida
Population of Flatwoods Salamander. Conservation Biology 10:426-437.
Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada.
Institution Press. Washington and London.
Whiles, M. R., J. B. Jensen, J. G. Palis, and W. G. Dyer. 2004.
Diets of Larval Flatwoods
Salamanders, Ambystoma cingulatum, from Florida and South
of Herpetology 38:208-214.
Account Author: Austin Meadows, University of Georgia
- revised by J.D. Willson