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Metamorphosed adult from eastern Tennessee. Photo by Todd Pierson, used with permission.

Berry Cave salamander placed on federal candidate species list

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the Berry Cave salamander on its Candidate Species List for federal protection.

As a result of a status review, called a 12-month finding, the Service finds this aquatic, cave-dwelling salamander warrants addition to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. However, for now, the Service must focus its limited funding for species at greater risk.  The salamander’s addition to the Candidate List means its status will be reviewed annually.

The results of the 12-month finding for the Berry Cave salamander appear in the March 22, 2011 Federal Register at

The Service encourages citizens to submit any new information that becomes available on the species to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Field Office, 446 Neal Street, Cookeville, Tennessee, for consideration during the candidate review process.  The findings of the subsequent review will be published in the annual Candidate Notice of Review in the Federal Register.

In 2003, Dr. John Nolt, Ph.D, a professor at the University of Tennessee, filed a petition to list the Berry Cave salamander as endangered.  The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to determine whether the petition seeking protection for a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information to indicate that such petition may be warranted.  A 90-day substantial finding was published in the _Federal Register_ on March 18, 2010, after which the Service initiated the more in depth 12-month status review.

The Berry Cave salamander is found in only nine caves in eastern Tennessee; eight of these caves are within the Upper Tennessee River and Clinch River drainages, and one cave is in McMinn County.  This salamander is unusual among other salamanders in that they normally do not mature into the adult form.  They reach reproductive maturity in their larval form, still keeping their gills.  Threats facing the Berry Cave Salamander include urban development near caves where the salamander is found, water contamination, and hybridization with spring salamanders.


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