Evolution, 1992. Paper abstract bibtex
Two zones of intergradation between populations of Plethodon have been studied for 18 and 20 years, respectively. The data consist of systematic scores of colors, made at least twice annually. Near Heintooga Overlook in the Balsam Mountains (Great Smoky Mountains National Park), the salamanders' cheeks are gray. Proceeding north toward the Smokies, there is increasing frequency and intensity of red color at two, four, and six miles. There has been no change in the scores at any location. The width of the zone and our failure to detect any change can be explained by assuming neutrality of the character and random diffusion during the probable time since contact between the two intergrading forms, which most likely took place after the Hypsithermal Interval, 8,000-5,000 BP. At Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in the Nantahala Mountains, Plethodon jordani and P. glutinosus hybridize at intermediate elevations. The lateral white spots of glutinosus decrease and the red on the legs ofjordani increases with elevation from 685 m to 1,052 m. At the higher elevation, the proportion of animals scored as "pure" jordani declined significantly from 1974 to 1990, an indication that the hybrid zone is spreading upward. The rate of spread is too great to be explained by random diffusion, so selection for glutinosus characters is the best explanation. The rate of spread of the hybrid zone indicates that hybridization began 60-65 years ago, at the end of the time of intense timbering. Such human disturbances have caused hybridization in other organisms.