Degree of Threat: Medium
Comments: Potential threats include conversion of pine flatwoods habitat for agriculture, silviculture, or commercial/residential development; drainage or enlargement (with subsequent introduction of predatory fishes) of breeding ponds; habitat alteration resulting from suppression of fire; mortality and collecting losses associated with crayfish harvest; and highway mortality during migration.
The principal threat is habitat destruction as a result of agriculture, silviculture, and residential and commercial development. Modern silvicultural methods rely on altering soil hydrology, suppressing fire, shortening timber rotations, and replacing widely-spaced longleaf pine with dense plantations of slash pine. Loss of groundcover vegetation due to mechanical soil preparation, fire suppression, and shading by overstories of slash pine have been implicated in the decline in north Florida (Means et al. 1994, 1996).
Larvae are threatened in some wetlands by the harvest of crayfish as bait. Bait harvesters drag large hardware cloth buckets through inundated vegetation, dump the contents of the bucket on the ground, and then sort out the crayfish. Flatwoods salamander larvae taken in this manner are left to die or are collected as bait (J. Palis, pers. obs.).
The effect of herbicide or fertilization application on flatwoods salamanders is unknown. However, fertilization of plantations often results in eutrophication of wetlands, promoting algal blooms. Larval flatwoods salamanders have not been observed in algal-choked wetlands (J. Palis, pers. obs.).
Ditching or berming of small, isolated pond-cypress wetlands, a common practice when establishing slash pine plantations on mesic sites, results in lowered water levels and shortened hydroperiods (Marois and Ewel 1983). These hydrologic perturbations could prevent successful flatwoods salamander reproduction by preventing egg inundation or stranding larvae before they are capable of metamorphosis. Altered hydrology, in association with fire exclusion, results in a shift in dominance from pond-cypress to broad-leaved hardwoods that reduce herbaceous groundcover vegetation through shading (Marois and Ewel 1983). This may be detrimental since A. cingulatum larvae take shelter in herbaceous vegetation during the day.
Ephemeral pond-cypress depressions are sometimes converted into permanent water bodies, rendering them unsuitable for flatwoods salamander reproduction (J. Palis, pers. obs.).
A constant winter-burn fire plan could be detrimental (Ashton 1992).
See USFWS (1999) for additional information.