, 2022-09-03 04:10:00,
Until recently, it was thought that 30 species of salamander live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But a recent article in Bionomia, the international journal devoted to biological naming, announced that what was believed to be one species of salamander has been found to actually consist of at least four distinct species, two of which live in the Smokies.
This discovery removes the black-bellied salamander from the park’s salamander list and adds both the Cherokee black-bellied salamander and the Pisgah black-bellied salamander, taking the total from 30 species to 31 in the park often referred to as The Salamander Capital of the World.
“To our knowledge, these species are the first new-to-science vertebrates formally described during the time of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory,” says Will Kuhn, director of science and research for Discover Life in America, a nonprofit park partner that manages a now 24-year-old effort to describe all the park’s species and their relationships to one another.
“These salamanders represent what we call cryptic species,” Kuhn explains. “Though they look the same, their DNA is different, showing that they probably don’t interbreed in nature, even in places where their populations overlap.”
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The two men responsible for the Bionomia paper and…
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