AMPHIBIA (Amphibians) CAUDATA (Salamanders) PLETHODONTIDAE (Lungless Salamanders)

CAVE SALAMANDER
Eurycea lucifuga Rafinesque 1822
ū-rĭs-ē-ă — lū-sĭ-fū-gă


Conservation Status:

State: Kansas Endangered Species

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S1 - Critically Imperiled
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None

An adult Cave Salamander from Cherokee County, Kansas. © Travis W. Taggart.
Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

Diagnosis:
The Cave Salamander is a slender, orange to bright reddish-orange to dull yellowish salamander with a cream-to-white colored belly. Transformed juveniles are typically more yellowish and have a proportionally shorter tail. Its back and sides of the head, limbs, and tail are sporadically covered with many small, rounded dark spots. The spots on the back may form a broken stripe along the sides. The head is flattened and the snout blunt. The tail is relatively long and slender. The long limbs end in 5-4 toes, the hind ones being webbed at the base. Along each side of the trunk, there are 14 to 15 costal grooves. It grows from 10 to 20 cm long.
The gender can be determined in adults by their head morphology. The snout of males is noticeably swollen near the nasolabial grooves, and the cirri are much more developed than in the females.
Adults normally 100-152 mm (4-6 inches) in total length. The largest specimen from Kansas is a male (KU 23193) from Cherokee County with a snout-vent length of 69 mm and total length of 166 mm (6½ inches), collected by Claude W. Hibbard, E.W. Jameson, Jr., and Hobart M. Smith on 21 October 1945. The maximum length throughout the range is 7 1/8 inches (181 mm) (Powell et al. 2016).

Distribution:
This taxon is known from the Ozark Plateau of extreme southeastern Cherokee County, principally east of the Spring River and south of Short Creek. A specimen from Douglas County exists (FMNH 103284) and is undoubtedly an error.
Currently, the following areas are designated critical for Cave Salamanders:
All caves and associated spring flows within that portion of Cherokee County lying south and east of a line beginning at the Kansas-Missouri border junction with U.S. Highway 66 at Sec. 13, T34S, R25E, then extending westerly and southerly along U.S. 66 to the Kansas-Oklahoma border at Sec. 14, T35S, R24E.
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 89
    Records 
  • 67
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 22
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Cherokee (87); Douglas (1); Unknown (1);

Natural History:
Primarily found among the crevices and rocks in the twilight zone of limestone caves. They may also be found deeper within caves, as well as under rocks, logs, and plant debris near caves and springs. Adults and juveniles are nocturnal and forage for invertebrates on humid nights. The eggs are attached to rocks in caves and underground spring pools during the fall and winter, and the hatchlings are washed out into springs and streams where they grow until they transform into miniature adults.

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Remarks:
First reported in Kansas by Smith (1946) based on a series of specimens captured on 21 October 1921 at Schermerhorn Park Cave by E. W. Jameson, Jr. and subsequently by Hobart M. Smith and Claude W. Hibbard. All specimens were found in the twilight zone of the cave, and it is interesting to note that at this time the cave was sealed off with cement. They also reported observing E. longicauda, and in considerable greater abundance than E. lucifuga.
The Cave Salamander is more specific in its habitat requirements than the Longtail Salamander. As its name implies, this taxon is usually found in association with caves and moist rock faces. However, on humid nights individuals can be found out among the leaf litter.
Like the Long-tailed Salamander, this species has doubtfully seen little change in its distribution or relative abundance over the last 50 years. However, in that it is not as widespread and is known from fewer localities than the Long-tailed Salamander, it is also more sensitive to deleterious environmental effects.
Loraine (1983) surveyed selected sites south of Shoal Creek in Cherokee County and reported several new localities for this species. A survey of all caves and rock faces in the Kansas Ozark Plateau would help to define the extent of this taxon's range in the state.
Layher (2002) recommended the down-listing of this species to SINC status at such a time it is known from 20 localities and when 16 of those localities are protected in some manner. He further recommended that upon confirmation of the species' continued existence at those sites five years later, it should be dropped from the SINC list.
Listed as a Kansas Endangered species in 1978. A recovery plan has been completed (Layher, 2002).
As defined by Kansas Administrative Regulations, critical habitats include those areas documented as currently supporting self-sustaining population(s) of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife as well as those areas determined by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism to be essential for the conservation of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife.
Currently, the following areas are designated critical for Cave Salamanders:
All caves and associated spring flows within that portion of Cherokee County lying south and east of a line beginning at the Kansas-Missouri border junction with U.S. Highway 66 at Sec. 13, T34S, R25E, then extending westerly and southerly along U.S. 66 to the Kansas-Oklahoma border at Sec. 14, T35S, R24E.

Bibliography:
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1822 Rafinesque, Constantine S. On two new salamanders of Kentucky. Kentucky Gazette, New Series. Lexington. 1(9):3
Dated 28 February 1822. Contains the original description of Eurycea lucifuga page 3. This copy is from the 1963 facsimile reprint produced by The Ohio Herpetological Society.
1933 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 383pp.
The first full accounting of the twenty-five species of amphibians known to occur in Kansas. Includes Ambystoma maculatum which is currently not included in the Kansas faunal list.
1934 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas. American Midland Naturalist 15(4):377-527
The formal publication of Hobart Smith's Master's Thesis (Smith 1933), though there are several updated and additions. In addition to the species accounts for all twenty-five species, the paper includes a history of amphibian biology in Kansas and discussions on taxonomy and physiography. 
1946 Smith, Hobart M. The systematic status of Eumeces pluvialis Cope, a noteworthy records of other amphibians and reptiles from Kansas and Oklahoma. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History 1(2):85-89
Discussion of an unnamed western from of Plestiodon anthracinus; The discovery of Eurycea lucifua in Cherokee County, Kansas, and mention of Eurycea longicauda.; The distribution of Psuedacris crucifer in Kansas and discovery of a specimen in NE Oklahoma.
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
The first modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table and text say 97 on p. 10) and 13 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies.
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
Schmidt's first edition of his standardized checklist to North American amphibians and reptiles. Includes several specific references to Kansas in the range descriptions.
1956 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. Second edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (9):1-356
Hobart M. Smith's updated second edition of his first (1950) modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table says 97 on p. 10; text says 98 on p. 10) and 11 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies. The second edition has updated taxonomy, added Plestiodon laticeps, and removed Eurycea tynerensis.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
Examined 2,628 Kansas reptiles of 48 species consisting of 27 turtles of 4 species, 1,736 lizards of 12 species and 892 snakes of 32 species for chiggers. Eleven species of chiggers were recovered from reptiles.
For amphibians, 1188 individuals of 21 species were examined. Five species of chigger mite were recovered from amphibians.
1966 Hutchison, Victor H. Eurycea lucifuga. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (24):1-2
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
Joseph T. Collins first Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Smith 1956)>
1974 Platt, Dwight R., Joseph T. Collins, and Ray E. Ashton, Jr. Rare, endangered and extirpated species in Kansas. II. Amphibians and reptiles. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 76(3):185-192
The initial initiative to determine population and conservation status of Kansas' amphibians and reptiles based on our understanding at the time. A lot has changed regarding our increased knowledge on all the listed species.
1975 Perry, Janice. A trip to southeastern Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (7):4
1976 Rundquist, Eric M. Field checklist (of) amphibians and reptiles of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society, Lawrence. pp.
1976 Ashton, Ray E., Jr., Stephen R. Edwards, and George R. Pisani. Endangered and threatened amphibians and reptiles in the United States. Herpetological Circulars (5):65
1977 Rundquist, Eric M. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians of Cherokee County, Kansas. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 12pp.
1979 Gray, Peter. Low attendance slows KHS. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (32):1
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Report to the Kansas Fish and Game Commission on the status of three amphibians in southeastern Kansas. Kansas Fish and Game Commission, Pratt. 57pp.
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
Joseph T. Collins second Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1974)>
1983 Ireland, Patrick H. and Ronald Altig. Key to the gilled salamander larvae and larviform adults of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Southwestern Naturalist 28(3):271-274
1984 Altig, Ronald and Patrick H. Ireland. A key to salamander larvae and larviform adults of the United States and Canada. Herpetologica 40(2):212-218
1985 Wood, R. D. Critical habitats for endangered and threatened herps of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (60):13-15
1986 Terry, P. A. Biological survey of the KS segments of Spring River and Shoal Creek. Part 1. Field Survey. Draft. Kansas Fish and Game, Pratt, Kansas. 67pp.
1986 Beard, James B. Salamanders of Schermerhorn Park Cave, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (66):7-8
1988 Busby, William H. The Kansas Natural Heritage Program: Taking stock of Kansas' natural heritage. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (71):9-12
1989 Simmons, John E. Endangered and threatened in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):4-5
1989 Capron, Marty. Threatened and endangered: A critique of the Kansas list. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (76):14-15
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Maximum size records for Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):13-17
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1992 Taggart, Travis W. Observations on Kansas amphibians and reptiles Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (88):13-15
1992 Rundquist, Eric M. Kansas endangered, threatened, and SINC species. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (91):
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
Joseph T. Collins third Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1982)>
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the fifth Kansas herp count held during April-June 1993 . Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (94):7-11
1994 Rundquist, Eric M. 1994 Field Trip Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (95):3-4
1994 Rundquist, Eric M. KHS spring field trip a resounding success Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (97):2
1994 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the sixth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1994. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (97):5-14
See, 1994 Rundquist, Eric M. Additions and corrections [to the results of the sixth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1994]. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (98):4.
1995 Moriarty, Emily C. and Joseph T. Collins. First known occurrence of amphibian species in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):28-30
1996 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the eighth annual KHS herp counts Held 1 April-31 May 1996. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (104):6-17
1996 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1998 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the tenth annual KHS herp counts for 1998, held 1 April-31 May. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (112):11-18
1999 Rundquist, Eric M. Kansas Herpetological Society herp counts: A 10 year summary and evaluation. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (115):42962
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
Reported Anaxyrus woodhousii was likely A. fowleri.
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2001 Kirk, Jay D. Reintroduction of the Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris) to Cherokee County, Kansas Thesis. Friends University, Wichita, Kansas. 54pp.
2002 Kingsbury, Bruce and Joanna Gibson. Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest. Publication of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Address not given. 152pp.
2002 Layher, Bill. Recovery plan for four salamander species of Cherokee County, Kansas Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 18pp.
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2008 Industrial Economics, Incorporated Cherokee County: Restoration Plan / Environmental Assessment. Prepared for: US Department of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Industrial Economics, Incorporated, Cambridge, MA. 138pp.
2009 Allison, Nathaniel T. The honorable E. B. Schermerhorn. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (30):10
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
Joseph T. Collins fourth Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1993)>
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2015 Rohweder, Megan R. Kansas Wildlife Action Plan. Ecological Services Section, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism in cooperation with the Kansas Biological Survey. 176pp.
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2017 Taggart, Travis W. and J. Daren Riedle. A Pocket Guide to Kansas Amphibians, Turtles and Lizards. Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, Kansas. 69pp.
2020 Daniel, Richard E. and Brian S. Edmond. Atlas of Missouri Amphibians and Reptiles for 2019. Privately printed, Columbia, Missouri. 86pp.
2020 Riedle, J. Daren. Revisiting Kansas Herpetological Society field trip and Herp Count data: Distributional patterns and trend data of Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Collinsorum 9(1):7-16
2020 Rader, Jennifer. Southeast Kansas Nature Center. Kansas Wildlife and Parks Magazine July-August():38-41
Account Last Updated:
5/24/2021 1:38:10 PM