USGS - science for a changing world

Southeast Ecological Science Center

clear pixel clear pixel clear pixel clear pixel

Marbled Salamander
Ambystoma opacum
(click image to enlarge)

Marbled Salmander - Ambystoma opacum
Appearance: This is a typically stocky, medium-sized ambystomatid salamander.  Adults can reach lengths approaching five inches, with recent metamorphs measuring about two inches. Adults are usually boldly marked: the ground color is glossy black, and the dorsum is crossbanded by either silvery white (males) or gray (females) bars.  The dorsal crossbands develop with age and may be difficult to discern in young individuals.

Habits and Habitat: Like all mole salamanders, the Marbled Salamander is extremely fossorial and comes to the surface only rarely, mainly during the breeding season. Upland forests are the preferred habitat of this species, particularly those forests in which adequate breeding sites (ephemeral ponds) are present. Some researchers have noted, however, that adult Marbled Salamanders may be found in unusually dry habitats.

Reproduction/Egg Description: Mole Salamanders are unusual among ambystomatid salamanders in that they breed in the fall months and deposit their eggs on dry land. Adults migrate to dry, temporary ponds in late summer or fall.  Fertilized eggs are deposited by females in pond basins and are eventually submerged by fall rains. Hatching and larval development occur over the winter, under a layer of ice in the northern parts of the range. Eggs are laid singly or in small clusters, grouped under vegetation, and females sometimes guard these nests until the eggs are flooded by rains.

Distribution and Abundance: This is a widely distributed salamander, occupying a large area of the eastern United States. The range includes southern New England, extends south to the Florida panhandle and west to eastern Texas. In many of the less developed parts of its range this species is locally abundant.  As with many species of vernal pool-breeding amphibians, habitat loss has reduced or eliminated many populations of Ambystoma opacum throughout its range.

SE ARMI Index Sites: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.



Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: WARC Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, 14-Dec-2012 13:09:19 EST