Colorations of the Eastern Red-backed Salamander:

The Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) is the most abundant salamander species in northeastern forests of North America. Eight phenotypes are currently known: the red-backed (striped), lead-backed (unstriped), and erythristic morphs, as well as the iridistic, albino, leucistic, amelanistic, and melanistic colour anomalies. The various colorations of the Eastern Red-backed Salamander are presented on this site in order to stimulate interest among naturalists who observe this species from time to time.


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ARTICLES

logo PDF  A review of colour phenotypes of the Eastern Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus, in North America
logo PDF  Silver-white variants of the Eastern Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus, from eastern Canada
logo PDF  Phénotypes de la salamandre cendrée (Plethodon cinereus) dans le nord-est de l'Amérique du Nord
logo PDF  Questioning the use of an amphibian colour morph as an indicator of climate change
logo PDF  Evolutionary response to global change: climate and land use interact to shape color polymorphism in a woodland salamander


Photo gallery:

Eastern Red-backed Salamander - red backed and lead backedEastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 8
Red-backed (striped) and lead-backed (unstriped) morphs of
the Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
Distinctive “salt-and-pepper” appearance of the ventral
body of a lead-backed morph of P. cinereus.
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 9Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 10
Slight colour variation of a red-backed
morph of P. cinereus.
Cream coloration of the dorsal stripe of a
red-backed morph of P. cinereus.
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 23Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 20
Shade of gray coloration of the dorsal stripe of a red-backed
morph of P. cinereus (silver-white variant).
Another example of colour variation of the dorsal stripe of a
red-backed morph of P. cinereus (silver-white variant).
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 2Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 21
Chestnut coloration of a lead-backed
morph of P. cinereus.
A lead-backed morph of P. cinereus
with blue pigmentation.
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 22Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 5
Ventral view of the previous P. cinereus specimen,
with blue pigmentation.
The erythristic morph of the Eastern Red-backed
Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 11Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 12
Another example of erythrism of P. cinereus,
with black mottling on the tail.
A partially erythristic Eastern Red-backed
Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 13Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 14
The iridistic colour anomaly of the red-backed
morph of P. cinereus.
The iridistic colour anomaly of the lead-backed
morph of P. cinereus.
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 4Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 15
Another case of iridism of the lead-backed
morph of P. cinereus.
The albino colour anomaly of the Eastern Red-backed
Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 16Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 18
The leucistic colour anomaly of the Eastern Red-backed
Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
Another example of leucism of the Eastern Red-backed
Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 6Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 7
Dorsal view of a partially leucistic Eastern Red-backed
Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
Ventral view of the previous P. cinereus specimen,
showing the translucent aspect of the body.
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 17Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 3
Partial leucism in another Eastern Red-backed
Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
The amelanistic colour anomaly of the Eastern Red-backed
Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
Eastern Red-backed Salamander - coloration 19 
Another example of amelanism of the Eastern Red-backed
Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).
Note: the red-eye effect is due to the photographic flash.
 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Contributors: Carl D. Anthony (John Carroll University), Philippe Beaupré (MFFP), Lyne Bouthillier (MFFP), Zacheriah T. Cota-Weaver, Jeffrey G. Davis (Cincinnati Museum Center), Patrick Galois (Amphibia-Nature), Claudine Genest, John Gilhen (Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History), Sean M. Hartzell (Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania), Daniel J. Hocking (University of New Hampshire), Ronald Merrick, Jean-David Moore (Forêt Québec), Martin Ouellet (Amphibia-Nature), Dalton Ramsey, Don E. Swann, Rick Van de Poll (Ecosystem Management Consultants of New England), Lori A. Williams (North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission).


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