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Evidence for the Recognition of Specific Status for Desmognathus welteri

J. Eric Juterbock
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 18, No. 3 (Sep., 1984), pp. 240-255
DOI: 10.2307/1564077
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1564077
Page Count: 16
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Evidence for the Recognition of Specific Status for Desmognathus welteri
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Abstract

New and recently published morphology and life history data on Desmognathus welteri and its two most similar sympatric congeners, D. fuscus and D. monticola are examined. No single morphological characteristic distinguishes all individuals of the three species, but when suites of characters are used (as with discriminant analysis), up to 99% of specimens can be correctly allocated. Tail shape, toe tip morphology, and melanophores on the roof of the mouth offer the best discrimination of adults; size and other characters, including tooth characteristics that are sexually dimorphic, exhibit modal differences. Color pattern is a relatively poor discriminator, but is probably the best available for juveniles. The larval stage of welteri may last nearly 2 years in contrast to the 9-10 months typical for fuscus and monticola. The number of larval spots and toe tip morphology are the best discriminators among larvae, although other characters exhibit useful modal differences. A summary of useful characters and geographic variation of these three superficially similar, sympatric taxa, as well as a brief discussion of the literature on D. welteri, are presented. The evidence overwhelmingly supports the recognition of Desmognathus welteri Barbour, 1950, as a distinct species.

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