Document Details

Document Type:   Thesis
Title:   The Natural History, Distribution, and Phenotypic Variation of Cave-dwelling Spring Salamanders, Gyrinophilus spp. Cope (Plethodontidae), in West Virginia
Author:   Michael Steven Osbourn
College:   Science
Degree Program:   Biological Sciences, M.S.
Degree:   Master of Science
Committee Director:   Thomas K. Pauley
Document Availability:   Document available for World-Wide access.
Date of Defense:   04/11/05

There are over 4000 documented caves in West Virginia, potentially providing refuge and habitat for a diversity of amphibians and reptiles. Spring Salamanders, Gyrinophilus porphyriticus, are among the most frequently encountered amphibians in caves. Surveys of 25 caves provided expanded distribution records and insight into ecology and diet of G. porphyriticus. Over 500 species locality records were compiled in a nearly comprehensive list. The Gyrinophilus population from General Davis Cave is of particular interest. In 1977, Besharse and Holsinger first described the West Virginia Spring Salamander, G. subterraneus, however, its taxonomic status is unclear. In order to document the degree of variability among cave-dwelling Gyrinophilus species, Principal Components Analysis was applied to measurements of external morphology. Eye diameter (P<0.05) appears to be the primary morphological character separating G. porphyriticus from G. subterraneus. This investigation of cave-dwelling Gyrinophilus should broaden our understanding of amphibians in an often overlooked and threatened ecosystem.  

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