Biological Diversity 2001

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This image courtesy of Chicago Herpetology Society

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Proteidae
Genus: Necturus
Species: maculosus


Characteristics of
Necturus maculosus

Size: 20-33 cm
Features: Large, feathery, external gills, slender legs with four toes on each foot, laterally flattened tail, dark stripe running
through eye, snout is blunt, tail fins do not extend on to body

Gray to brownish to almost black, stomach speckled gray with a few large dark spots, larvae and juvenile have broad dark strips down back that are border by yellow stripes
Habitat: Total aquatic (due to gills as only breathing apparatus), streams and weedy ponds, the mudpuppy needs water that has coverings (rocks, weeds or logs) and are more abundant in clear waters, but can withstand muddy water if clear water is available for reproduction, shelters by day in deep water under rocks and wood overhangs. Mudpuppies are primarily nocturnal, but may be active during they day in muddy or weed-choked water. They
are active throughout the year.
Reproduction: Sperm is exchanged in fall and fertilization is internal. Eggs are laid in spring. Females lay eggs in a nest under
stones or logs at water depths over 10 cm. 18-180 eggs are laid at a time.

Larval Stage:
Females may stay with eggs during incubation. Larvae take four weeks to hatch and take five to eight years to
attain sexual maturity. First breeding occurs when individual reaches 20 cm in length. Their reproductive life can span over
25 years.

Feeding Habits: Feeds at night on fish, crayfish, aquatic insects,
worms, fish eggs; they rely heavily upon olfactory cues to find
their prey.

Range: Mudpuppies widely range form Eastern U. S. to Southern portions of Canada, from southern Quebec to Northern Georgia, primarily west of the Appalachians, expanding as far west as North Dakota
(see map below)

title of photo

Mudpuppy eggs under a rock.
This image courtesy of
Chicago Herpetology Society

Range Map:


Conservation Organizations

Chicago Herpetological Society
"The Chicago Herpetological Society is a group of reptile and amphibian enthusiasts. Its goals are education, conservation and the advancement of herpetology. Members have unique opportunities to further their knowledge of and participation in all aspects of herpetology. The Chicago Herpetological Society is a nonprofit organization incorporated under the laws of the state of Illinois."

Kansas Herpetological Society
"The KHS is a non-profit organization established in 1974 and designed to encourage education and dissemination of scientific information through the facilities of the Society; to encourage conservation of wildlife in general and of amphibians, turtles, and reptiles in Kansas in particular; and to achieve closer cooperation and understanding between herpetologists, so that they may work together in common cause. The KHS is not a herpetocultural organization, but encourages individuals to keep and maintain native Kansas amphibians, turtles, and reptiles for educational purposes."

Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
"Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) hopes to change these attitudes by promoting sound conservation and management of our native U.S. herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians), and also through educational efforts to raise public awareness about the conservation needs of reptiles and amphibians."


Literature Cited

Georgia Museum of Natural History and Georgia Department of Natural Resources. 1 June 2000.http//
Accessed 6 November 2001.

Chicago Herpetology Society.
Accessed 6 November 2001.

Meredith J. Mahoney. Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. 9 May 2001. Accessed 6 November 2001.

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. December 1999.
. Accessed 6 November 2001.

Jeff LeClere. Reptiles and Amphibians of Minnesota.
. Accessed 6 November 2001.

Amphibians of Canada.
. Accessed 11 November 2001.

Salamanders of Canada. 2000.
. Accessed 11 November 2001.

Michael J. Hansen. Lake Superior: The State of the Lake in 1989. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission. April 1990.
. Accessed 11 November 2001.

September 2000 Monthly Report. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources. Accessed 11 November 2001.

Threatened and Endangered Species of North Carolina.
. Accessed 11 November 2001.

Amphibians and Reptiles in Great Lakes Wetlands: Threats and Conservation. November 15, 1996. Minister of the Environment Canada. Accessed 11 November 2001.


Authors: Stephanie Lane
Katy Nicholson
Andrea Kuns

Creation/revision date: November 16, 2001


This image courtesy of Chicago Herpetology Society.

Necturus maculosus

Necturus maculosus can be found typically in the Eastern United
States. They tend to reside under rocks and logs in large rivers and lakes. They have been previously found at depths of up to seventy feet (LeClere). A typical mudpuppy will be eight to thirteen inches in length and reddish brown colored with black spots. Their heads are large and somewhat flat with large maroonish colored gills on the sides (Siebert). This species seems to eat whatever it finds, but some common foods would be worms, crayfish, fish eggs, salamanders and insects. Since their vision is poor they must rely on other
senses to catch their prey (LeClere). A male and female N. maculosus will typically mate in the fall, and the female will lay her eggs in late spring. The female will place her eggs at the top of her nest, which is buried under a rock or some other rock like object. She will then stay to protect her eggs until they have hatched into larvae. The exact time at which she leaves them varies from one female to another (LeClere). It can take up to five years for a N. maculosus to develop into a sexually mature adult, and their sexual life span is about twenty-five years. N. maculosus has three stages of
development the egg, the larva, and the adult stage. This species of salamander is fully aquatic and usually nocturnal. They are also solitary except for when they are reproducing (Siebert).

Conservation Status
Amphibia Web Status None
IUCN (Red List)

No IUCN Listing

IUCN Listing No CITES Listing
Other International Status None
National Status
Regional Status None


Conservation Issues

Mudpuppies are heavily taken out of their natural environment as pets. Sometimes they are used as subjects for scientific experimentation and biological research. Mudpuppies are often caught by fisherman and then killed because they are believed to be detrimental to sports fishing. Logging in the Southeast United States has caused habitat destruction. Water pollution and silation (suspended solids in the water) has adversely affected mudpuppies. As with many amphibians they are subject to toxic chemicals and heavy metals which has been shown to cause mortality and deformities. This is due to the long life of the species, its carnivorous dies and delayed sexuality, which increases accumulation of toxic substances in fat tissue. They are listed as endangered in Iowa and special concern in Maryland and North Carolina.

Some populations have been reduced by the use of lampricides in rivers and streams for lamprey control. ( Lake Superior lampricides which are used to kill lampreys are applied without affecting most non-target aquatic vertebrates found in Lake Superior tributaries, but some species such as stonecat (Noturus flavus), trout-perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus), brown bullhead (Ictalurus nebulosus), and mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) are sensitive to the lampricide, and mortality can occur during treatment. Also, some mortality of less sensitive fish species may be caused if lampricide is applied when spawning occurs. At recommended dosages lampricides kills larval lampreys but also larval amphibians. (

Sea lamprey control treatment conducted in 2000 in Lake Champlain killed more than 10,000 larval sea lamprey, but nontarget mortality was observed among stonecat, logperch, two-lined salamander and mudpuppy populations. ( Snapping Turtle eggs and Mudpuppies from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River have been shown to contain high concentrations of fat-soluble contaminants which are absorbed as food
is digested. These include
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans, and organochlorine pesticides . Abnormal development, such as unhatched eggs or deformed animals, occurs at the highest rates in the sites which are most contaminated. (

Mudpuppies in St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers, with extra or fewer than normal toes, and toes that were fused together were found at higher rates (about 60 per cent) in the most contaminated sites than in clean sites (about 8 per cent), (see picture below). The population with the highest contamination had fewer younger organisms. Toxic chemicals present in the eggs may be causing poor survival of the eggs young animals of the species. Although there has been a decrease in contamination in the Great Lakes in the last 20 years, there are still localized areas of contamination. PCBs accumulate in the fat tissue of mudpuppies and may be incorporated into the liver and transferred to eggs, where they have been found in high levels. ( and (

Below: Radiograph of mudpuppy limbs showing polydactily (extra toes) and toes that are fused together at contaminated sites in Lake Champlain


Mudpuppy Skeleton

This image courtesy of Biodiversity Education Network..

This image courtesy of Augusta Creek Watershed Association.

This image courtesy of Environment Canada.

The image courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Acanthaster planci Apis mellifera Capybara Chimpanzee Danaus plexippus Exciting Cephalopods Green Sea Turtle (H-R,K) Green Sea Turtle (B,M,C) Green Serpent Star Holothuroidea Hyenas Latimeria chalumnae Mudpuppy Northern Leopard Frog Pink Seafan Salamanders Scyphozoa Tuatara

This website is part of a Biology 26 class project on the conservation of global biodiversity.

Earlham · Biology Department · Biology 26 : Biological Diversity

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