For the Orianne Society’s fifth Places You’ve Never Herped event held October 11-12, 2014, we were lucky enough to be granted access to the Waynesville Watershed in Waynesville, NC. The watershed is owned by the city and is gated off from public access. Because of this, the area has had no significant herpetological surveys done, and our inventory was of great interest to the city and to the state Wildlife Resource Commission.
Fall is a great time to be in the southern Blue Ridge—not only for the beautiful fall colors, but also for the amphibians and reptiles that can be found there. This area has among the highest diversity of salamanders in the world, and the fall is one of the best times of year to find them.
The 5th Places You’ve Never Herped event was attended by 36 participants who divided into two teams to survey different areas of the watershed. While the cool and wet weather likely reduced the number of reptiles encountered and led to a low number of species found on this event, the salamanders were out in full force. In total, 24 species of reptiles and amphibians were recorded within the watershed, and half of those were salamander species. Seemingly every other rock or log had a salamander hiding underneath it. Some salamanders were bold enough to be crawling around on the surface during the day, including the beautiful Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus). Spring Salamanders are notorious predators of other salamanders, and they were likely out hunting. Participants also learned the finer points of dusky salamander (species in the genus Desmognathus) identification, as they are some of the trickiest salamander species to identify. One of the more interesting Desmognathus found was the Shovel-nosed Salamander (D. marmoratus), which is nearly fully aquatic and proved to be abundant in the Waynesville area.
All in all, the event was a great success that would not have been possible without the fantastic, enthusiastic members of The Orianne Society. In case you were wondering, the team that found the most species during the event is difficult to ascertain, as some of the youthful participants from Team Shady stayed up late into the night and traveled beyond the watershed boundary to encounter at least another six species of salamander. We can say that Max Seldes and Mark Wallace Sr. were the top two participants who found the most reptiles and amphibians individually, so congrats go to them!
Below is a list of the species found at PYNH 5:
Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)
Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)
Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)
Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
Red-spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)
Santeetlah Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus santeetlah)
Shovelnose Salamander (Desmognathus marmoratus)
Black-bellied Salamander (Desmognathus quadramaculatus)
Seal Salamander (Desmognathus monticola)
Ocoee Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus ocoee)
Southern Redback Salamander (Plethodon serratus)
Southern Gray-cheeked Salamander (Plethodon metcalfi)
Southern Appalachian Slimy Salamander (Plethodon teyahalee)
Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea wilderae)
Three-lined Salamander (Eurycea guttolineata)
Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)
Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)
Lizards and Skinks
Coal Skink (Plestiodon anthracinus)
Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)
Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon)
Eastern Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum)
Northern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus)
Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
You can view more photos from PYNH 5 on Facebook.