Lets find the 13 US amphibians still missing from iNaturalist!

Last month, I did a post on the tres-zeros-club which are species with at least 1,000 observations on iNaturalist. But what about the other end of the spectrum: species not yet represented on iNaturalist? There are more than 2 million named species and we've only ticked around 100,000 on iNat. So broadly speaking (ie globally across all taxa) this group includes the vast majority of species. But for certain well known groups, like US amphibians, these 'missing species' are becoming a more manageable minority.

For example, there are ~300 species of US amphibians. iNaturalist has over 70,000 observations of amphibians in the US. Together, these cover all but 13 missing species:

So who are these missing species? One of them, Lowland Burrowing Treefrog has a broad distribution in Mexico where it has been observed 14 times on iNat. But in the US, it just barely ranges into Arizona in the Tucson area where it has yet to be observed. The remaining dozen missing species are all US 'endemics' meaning they aren't found outside of the US. Most are endemic to a single state and several are only known from a single site. The map below shows where these missing species are distributed according to their IUCN range maps:

In the southeast lowlands, five species with relatively 'large ranges' include 2 frogs: Dusky Gopher Frog and Florida Bog Frog, a terrestrial salamander: Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander, and two aquatic salamanders: Dwarf Siren and Alabama Waterdog that still haven't been observed. In the Sierra Nevada in California two recently described slender salamanders Kern Canyon Slender Salamander and Kings River Slender Salamander are still missing. Similarly, in the Appalachian mountains the Dwarf Black Bellied Salamander hasn't been observed.

The remaining four missing species are all cave species that occur underground. Most are only known from a single cave. They are the Blanco Blind Salamander only known from a single specimen from the 1950's in Texas, the West Virginia Spring Salamander only known from General Davis Cave in West Virginia, Georgia Blind Salamander known only from a few limestone formations on the Georgia/Florida border, and Berry Cave Salamander known from a few caves in the Appalachian mountains.

Some of these cave species may be hard to find (certainly Blanco Blind Salamander which is unlikely to be rediscovered). But the iNaturalist community should be able to find the remaining missing species. Lets get the word out and see how close we can get towards logging a complete set of US amphibian species!

Note: Remember to treat sensitive species and habitats with respect. it is illegal to harass, touch, pick up, or otherwise compromise threatened species and be sure not to trespass or break any laws while naturalizing!

Posted by loarie loarie, July 18, 2017 03:45

Comments

I'm on it!

Posted by joelle about 4 years ago (Flag)

Update - 3 down, 10 to go! Thanks @hydrophilus, @cavemander17, and @acryptozoo!

Posted by loarie about 4 years ago (Flag)

I'm pretty shocked that folks responded to this article by posting 7 out of 13 species within 24hrs. Here's an updated map on the remaining 6 species - and remember Blanco Blind Salamander is most likely extinct so really more like remaining 5 species...

Posted by loarie about 4 years ago (Flag)

Update: This week we got an observation of Dwarf Siren (Pseudobranchus striatus) by @saundersdrukker and Dusky Gopher Frog (Lithobates sevosus) by @janetwright. There's now just 4 missing species: Alabama waterdog, West Virginia spring salamander, reticulated flatwoods salamander, and blanco blind salamander.

Posted by loarie about 4 years ago (Flag)

I just added an observation of Alabama Waterdog.

Posted by mike_rochford almost 4 years ago (Flag)

Nice - thanks mike_rochford! https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/8953099 That brings us up to 10 / 13 species!

Posted by loarie almost 4 years ago (Flag)

Did you managed to make it??
This came up on my memories today.

Posted by aztekium_tutor about 1 year ago (Flag)

All be Blanco Blind Salamander is most likely extinct, but there have been a few new species split off since this post which we are missing

Posted by loarie about 1 year ago (Flag)

So sorry th learn about this extinction.
For me I think this a great exercise to make people rellay aware of the power of iNat.

Thank a lot for the update Scott

Posted by aztekium_tutor about 1 year ago (Flag)

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