Life history and color variants in a matriline of Oklahoma salamander (Eurycea tynerensis)


Until recently, two surface-dwelling species of multi-ribbed brook salamanders (i.e., the metamorphic Eurycea multiplicata griseogaster [Graybelly Salamander], and the strictly paedomorphic E. tynerensis [Oklahoma Salamander]) were recognized as living in the Missouri Ozarks. The current understanding is that a single species (Oklahoma Salamander) is resident in the Ozarks, and that this species is polymorphic for life-history mode from population to population. We recently discovered that multi-ribbed salamanders at two locations in Christian and Barry Counties, MO, show striking polymorphism in eye-coloration, with individuals possessing either gold or black irises. To test whether the gold- and black-eyed forms may be different species, we conducted a phylogeographic analysis of mtDNA variation in multi-ribbed salamanders across the Missouri Ozarks. We present sequence data from the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene that show that transforming and paedomorphic individuals, and the alternative eye-color morphs can all arise from the same mitochondrially defined matriline, and thus seem to comprise a single species. We hypothesize that color-pattern variation in multi-ribbed salamanders is under simple genetic control.



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Southeastern Naturalist