Waterdogs in Florida

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simus343
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Waterdogs in Florida

Post by simus343 » July 4th, 2015, 1:35 pm

Does anyone here no anything about Waterdogs in Florida? I have encountered what I very strongly believe to be water dogs in the Florida Panhandle four years ago while dip netting in a branch of a rather extensively branched creek.

I am asking now because I am finishing a summer class on the 7'th and intend to spend the rest of my summer vacation working on this "mystery salamander".

The habitat doesn't fit the description of any breeding habitat for local Ambystoma species. The "gilled salamander" doesn't meet the description of any native salamander larvae either. The only salamanders documented in the area with larva that might possibly reach the size of some of these salamanders would be the Mole Salamander. Still, the description doesn't match anything close to what I have found.

The locations I have encountered them are little alcoves of deep mucky debris that get washed to the side in a shallow creek with a strong current.

I will be surveying, photographing, and taking notes on the type of locations that I find them in along the creek. My first step will be to try and determine if they are still at the sites where I initially found them.

Another possibility may be, from what I can tell, a range extension on Necturus beyeri? Several years ago when I first found them I found some rather vague and un-fulfilling information on the "Florida Waterdog" but even that was outside the range of where I have found these individuals.

This creek is difficult to access, has isolated pockets of water during periods of dryness and is un-frequented by anyone except the occasional drunk yocal or partying teens. I have seen other animals in the creek that I have no clue what they were (mostly worm-like invertebrates). I will be photographing anything I can't ID on the side.

If anyone has information on Waterdogs in Florida, it would be much appreciated, thank you.

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Josh Holbrook » July 4th, 2015, 5:00 pm

They're pretty common in ANF in the surrounding area. They're a yet-to-be-described species.

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Stohlgren
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Stohlgren » July 4th, 2015, 6:34 pm

Yes, they are common in leaf packs in many gulf drainages. Here is a photo from southwest Georgia (and see comments for current taxonomic status): https://flic.kr/p/dJjKCC

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Noah M
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Noah M » July 4th, 2015, 7:18 pm

What they said. I've seen a few others netted. May head up there this fall and try getting one myself.

simus343
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by simus343 » July 5th, 2015, 9:11 am

Okay, so that is why I probably can't find anything in any field guides. All my guides are more modern and only have described species.

I hope I can find some that look at nice as that one you provided a picture of Kevin. All the ones I have found in the past were solid black.

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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Stohlgren » July 5th, 2015, 10:05 am

They are covered in guides. They are just usually referred to as Necturus alabamensis. Though that name is now only appropriate for waterdogs from the Black Warrior River Basin in northern Alabama.

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JakeScott
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by JakeScott » July 6th, 2015, 5:29 am

Are you sure you found Necturus? It was a solid black individual? Perhaps you captured a Siren? I guess you would know if it had four legs, but just wondering since I've never seen/heard of a solid black individual from that area.

-Jake

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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Stohlgren » July 6th, 2015, 9:25 am

JakeScott wrote:Are you sure you found Necturus? It was a solid black individual?
Yeah, I missed that. Necturus can be a lot darker than the one I shared, but not really solid black. Regardless, you should be able to turn up some Necturus in the habitat you described (as well as Siren and Amphiuma).

simus343
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by simus343 » July 7th, 2015, 9:23 am

They did indeed have four legs. They were also solid black. Their morphology was the same as other Necturus though. I'll be going to look this Thursday probably. If not then, next Tuesday. Of course now that I said that I'll only turn up colored individuals, just watch. Though I do have a photograph from about 4 years ago where I am holding one in my hands that is a solid black. It could be an age thing, as I never found any over 4 inches long snout to tail tip.

And the guides that I have with Necturus alabamensis don't show them in the Florida county that I found them in. Yet, from the pictures and anecdotes provided here, I no longer doubt that there is indeed waterdogs here.

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JakeScott
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by JakeScott » July 7th, 2015, 1:43 pm

They actually darken with age and are usually a pinkish color until they are about 3 inches. Then they turn a brownish ground color with dark spotting along the dorsum. I actually dipped about a dozen this past March in Conecuh NF. Here's some here (not my record, but I was doing the dipping): http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=217043

Here's a couple from a bit further east in FL panhandle.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tamers1/s ... 621608579/

-Jake

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Stohlgren
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Stohlgren » July 9th, 2015, 4:40 am

If you don't mind sharing the photo you got, maybe we can tell for sure what it is. And of course, share photos of whatever you find on your upcoming excursions.

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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by simus343 » July 10th, 2015, 1:50 pm

So I went to the creek today and got two things.
1) I got closure on my "lifer" Brown Water Snake by finally getting to catch one!

2) I found my target. I found two this trip, there was a lot of activity in the water.
I took 5 pics of one, the second was at a different spot but identical in size and appearance. They were a little more red-tinged than I remember I will admit, but I have not been to the site in about four years.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Shot focused on tail:
Image

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Stohlgren
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Stohlgren » July 10th, 2015, 3:02 pm

Congrats. That is pretty dark. I'd be interested to see what big adults look like from that locality. You should check the Florida herp atlas and see if it may indeed be a county record (https://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/f ... ist-atlas/)

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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Noah M » July 10th, 2015, 5:05 pm

Cool. Thanks for sharing.

simus343
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by simus343 » July 10th, 2015, 5:18 pm

Not a county record, but based on that database the first in almost 30 years. All on database are listed as N. alabamensis or undefined sp. though. Which, from what I recall the alabamensis would no longer be correct?

The pictured is the largest I have ever seen them. I found one maybe 1-2 cm longer, and darker my first year checking the creek. I tried to keep some, but the water quality wasn't right or something (I even collected water from the creek they were in) and they died encased in a mucous-like film. I had 3 about the size of the photographed.

I have successfully hatched some eggs from them as well. My first day I flipped a rock while looking for anything I could find and found 11 eggs under the rock. I didn't want to pop them so I carefully collected them. I hatched them all (in collected water) and released them back into the same creek.

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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Stohlgren » July 11th, 2015, 3:27 am

Very cool. You should report your findings to FWC. I'm sure they'd be interested if it has been that long since they've been vouchered there. As for the name, they are all the same critter, regardless of what they are being called, they are just in need of being described as a new species (the new name will likely be Necturus lodingi).

I believe the adults will use the leaf packs more commonly in the winter, so if you have a chance to dipnet then, you might be able to turn one up. The water level is usually higher in the winter though, which can make it more difficult.

-Kevin

simus343
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by simus343 » July 11th, 2015, 8:16 am

Where would I submit this information to FWC?

The creek is extremely shallow (just a smidgen above ankle deep), so it still would only be maybe waist deep during winter I think if even that much.

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BDSkinner
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by BDSkinner » July 15th, 2015, 10:18 pm

Are you sure that's not a Pseudotriton? If you're ever in the area again, check the feet. If there are four toes, it's Necturus. If not, it is something else.

Regardless, cool find!


-Brad

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Noah M
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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Noah M » July 16th, 2015, 5:20 am

In the picture titled "Shot focused on tail" I see 4 toes.

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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by Stohlgren » July 16th, 2015, 6:08 am

BDSkinner wrote:Are you sure that's not a Pseudotriton?
I wondered that at first, too. I have carefully checked photos of both to compare head shape, and it looks pretty Necturus to me.

Here is the same shot I linked above, showing a similar head angle as #1. The head tapers pretty consistently towards the nose:
Image

And another Necturus with a similar head angle to #1:
Image

And here's a Pseudotriton ruber, which have a stubbier head:
Image

Another shot showing the stubbier head:
Image

Here are links to a few photos from other folks for comparison:

Here is one of Jake's shots of Necturus showing the way the head tapers towards the nose: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tamers1/1 ... faL-2FQ8cZ

Here's a shot from Todd Pierson that has a similar head angle as photo #3 above: https://www.flickr.com/photos/twpierson ... yHB-oxZpAp

And a top-down shot of a Pseudotrion showing the stubbier head (another by Todd): https://www.flickr.com/photos/twpierson ... nCL-eaEKuf

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Re: Waterdogs in Florida

Post by BDSkinner » July 16th, 2015, 8:35 am

Thanks for the comparison. I've never held a Necturus and see both species of Pseudotriton all the time, my eyes are biased. I also saw the four toes, but the picture wasn't convincing in my mind.


-Brad

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