Desmognathus auriculatus - (Holbrook, 1838)
Southern Dusky Salamander
Other English Common Names: southern dusky salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Desmognathus auriculatus (Holbrook, 1838) (TSN 173637)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105932
Element Code: AAAAD03020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Salamanders
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae Desmognathus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Help
Concept Reference: Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B85FRO01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Desmognathus auriculatus
Taxonomic Comments: Beamer and Lamb (2008) examined mtDNA variation among Desmognathus populations in the Gulf and Atlantic coastal plains (and some nearby localities outside the Coastal Plain). Based on these genetic results, in conjunction with morphological observations, they concluded that the taxonomic and geographic scopes of several Desmognathus species should be modified from their traditional concepts. The authors found that the range of D. auriculatus is smaller than previously defined; it includes the Coastal Plain of Georgia and adjacent northern Florida but possibly extends west to Mississippi and Louisiana (morphological observations indicate that D. auriculatus may be present in Louisiana and Mississippi, but these populations could be an independent lineage; further study is needed). Desmognathus auriculatus populations in the Coastal Plain of Georgia and northern Florida are not closely related to Desmognathus populations (previously regarded as D. auriculatus) on the lower Coastal Plain of North Carolina and South Carolina. Additional Atlantic Coastal Plain populations previously regarded as D. auriculatus fall into clades containing D. fuscus or D. fuscus and D. carolinensis. Hence, further taxonomic changes are warranted.
Conservation Status
Help

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 12Feb2014
Global Status Last Changed: 12Feb2014
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Large range in southeastern United States; large declines in at least some parts of the range; causes of declines are poorly known but may include habitat destruction, degradation by feral hogs, and even disease.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Nov1996)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S2), Florida (S1S2), Georgia (S2), Louisiana (S1), Mississippi (S2S3), North Carolina (S5), South Carolina (SNR), Texas (S1), Virginia (S4)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Based on the traditional taxonomy, the range extends from Coastal Plain from southeastern Virginia to central Florida, west to eastern Texas (Means 1999). However, genetic data (Beamer and Lamb 2008) indicate that the range includes the Coastal Plain of Georgia and adjacent northern Florida and possibly extends west to Mississippi and Louisiana; the taxonomic status of populations farther north on the Atlantic Coastal Plain needs to be resolved before the range can be fully circumscribed (see taxonomy comments).

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: Represented by many and/or large occurrences throughout the range.

Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but likely exceeds 100,000.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Rooting by feral pigs eliminates the seepage habitat of D. auriculatus larvae and may be partly responsible for declines observed on Eglin Air Force Base in Florida (Means and Travis 2007). However, "the wider disappearance of D. auriculatus from diverse localities across the species range in which there is no evidence of feral hog depredations suggests either that a more pervasive agent, such as a pathogen, is acting or that there is no single cause for the species decline" (Means and Travis 2007).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to increase of <25%
Long-term Trend Comments: This species has greatly declined or completely disappeared from a large number of pristine localities where it formerly was common in Florida (Dodd 1998, Means and Travis 2007). It has also apparently declined in abundance in at least one site in Georgia and in the Florida parishes of Louisiana (Means and Travis 2007).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly to moderately vulnerable.
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Unexplained local extirpations point to some unknown vulnerability of the species.

Environmental Specificity: Narrow to moderate.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: A range-wide survey of all known populations of D. auriculatus, plus a search for new localities, should be mounted immediately (Means and Travis 2007).

Protection Needs: Important conservation measures include protection and maintenance of mature bottomland hardwood forests.

Distribution
Help
Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) Based on the traditional taxonomy, the range extends from Coastal Plain from southeastern Virginia to central Florida, west to eastern Texas (Means 1999). However, genetic data (Beamer and Lamb 2008) indicate that the range includes the Coastal Plain of Georgia and adjacent northern Florida and possibly extends west to Mississippi and Louisiana; the taxonomic status of populations farther north on the Atlantic Coastal Plain needs to be resolved before the range can be fully circumscribed (see taxonomy comments).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX, VA

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: IUCN, Conservation International, NatureServe, and collaborators, 2004


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Liberty (12077), Wakulla (12129)
GA Atkinson (13003)*, Bibb (13021), Brantley (13025), Bryan (13029), Burke (13033), Clinch (13065), Liberty (13179), Wayne (13305)
MS Amite (28005)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Middle Savannah (03060106)+, Brier (03060108)+, Canoochee (03060203)+, Ogeechee Coastal (03060204)+, Upper Ocmulgee (03070103)+, Altamaha (03070106)+, Satilla (03070201)+, Upper Suwannee (03110201)+, Alapaha (03110202)+*, Lower Ochlockonee (03120003)+
08 Amite (08070202)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Help
Reproduction Comments: Breeds September-October. Lays clutch of 9-20 eggs. Eggs guarded by female. Larvae hatch in early fall, metamorphose in late spring after aquatic period.
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND, TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Mucky areas near springs, swamps, cypress heads, mud-bottomed streams, floodplain pools, and ravine streams where pockets of organic debris collect; usually in or near moving water. Environment usually acidic. Hides under leaves, logs, or debris or in burrows during day. Eggs are laid under or in logs or in depressions under moss or other cover near water.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Opportunistic; eats various arthropods, worms, and other invertebrates.
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Length: 16 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Help
Management Summary
Help
Biological Research Needs: Research on the cause or causes of the decline (Means and Travis 2007) is needed. Additional taxonomic work is needed to resolve specific boundaries in what may be a species complex rather than a single species.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Help
Group Name: Aquatic/Wetland Plethodontid Salamanders

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including larvae or eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway, especially with high traffic volume at night; other totally inappropriate habitat that the salamanders cannot traverse.
Alternate Separation Procedure: Separation distance for stream-dwelling species along riverine corridors: 10 stream km. Separation distance for other freshwater aquatic and wetland habitats: 3 km. Separation distance for upland habitat: 1 km.
Separation Justification: These salamanders rarely successfully cross roadways that have heavy traffic volume at night, when most movements occur. Salamanders in this Specs Group, except strictly subterranean species, tend to be able to traverse upland habitat when conditions are wet, and generally they can pass through atypical wetland and aquatic habitats to reach another patch of suitable habitat. However, Grover and Wilbur (2002) created replicated seeps at distances of 3, 15, and more than 30 m from streams or natural seeps and found that Desmognathus fuscus and Gyrinophilus porphyriticus colonized the new seeps at 3 m and 15 m but were rare or absent at new seeps more than 30 m from the nearest stream or natural seep.

Although these specifications do not include rivers as barriers, Adams and Beachy (2001) documented morphological variation among populations of Gyrinophilus porphyriticus in the southern Appalachian Mountains and found patterns "consistent with the hypothesis that large rivers restrict sizable gene flow." Large rivers probably function at least as unsuitable habitat for many species in this Specs Group.

Compared to larger ambystomatid salamanders, the movements of plethodontids are poorly documented, but home ranges likely tend to be very small, on the order of a few meters to a few dozen meters in length or diameter. Yet, on occasion, dispersing individuals likely travel at least several hundred meters, and stream-dwelling species likely disperse much farther along riverine corridors. Over a number of years, it is likely that these salamanders can spread multiple kilometers through suitable habitat.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 28Oct2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 12Feb2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jackson, D. R. (2014); Hammerson, G. (2002)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 27Oct1993
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. 2005. Conserving Alabama's wildlife: a comprehensive strategy. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Montgomery, Alabama. 303 pages. [Available online at http://www.dcnr.state.al.us/research-mgmt/cwcs/outline.cfm ]

  • Allen, C. R., S. Demarais, and R. S. Lutz. 1994. Red imported fire ant impact on wildlife: an overview. The Texas Journal of Science 46(1):51-59.

  • Beamer, D. A. and T. Lamb. 2008. Dusky salamanders (Desmognathus, Plethodontidae) from the Coastal Plain: multiple independent lineages and their bearing on the molecular phylogeny of the genus. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 47:143-153.

  • Beamer, D. A., and T. Lamb. 2008. Dusky salamanders (Desmognathus, Plethodontidae) from the Coastal Plain: multiple independent lineages and their bearing on the molecular phylogeny of the genus. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 47:143-153.

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 719 pp.

  • Blackburn, L., P. Nanjappa, and M. J. Lannoo. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Copyright, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA.

  • CONANT, R., AND J.T. COLLINS. 1991. A FIELD GUIDE TO REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS, EASTERN AND CENTRAL NORTH AMERICA, THIRD ED. HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. 450 PP.

  • Cliburn, J.W. 1976. A key to the amphibians and reptiles of Mississippi. Fourth edition. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Jackson, Mississippi. 71 pp.

  • Cook, F.A. 1957. Salamanders of Mississippi. Mississippi Game and Fish Commission Museum. 28 pp.

  • Crother, B. I. (editor). 2008. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Sixth edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Herpetological Circular 37:1-84.

  • DIXON, JAMES R. 1987. AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF TEXAS, WITH KEYS, TAXONOMIC SYNOPSES, BIBLIOGRAPHY, AND DISTRIBUTION MAPS. TEXAS A& M UNIV. PRESS, COLLEGE STATION. xii + 434 pp.

  • Dodd, C. K., Jr. 1998. Desmognathus auriculatus at Devil's Millhopper State Geological Site, Alachua County, Florida. Florida Scientist 61(1):38-45.

  • Dodd, C. K., Jr. 1998.  Desmognathus auriculatus at Devil's Millhopper State Geological Site, Alachua County, Florida. Florida Scientist 61(1):38-45.

  • Dundee, H.E., and D.A. Rossman. 1989. The amphibians and reptiles of Louisiana. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge. 300 pp.

  • Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.

  • GARRETT, JUDITH M. AND DAVID G. BARKER. 1987. A FIELD GUIDE TO REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS OF TEXAS. TEXAS MONTHLY PRESS, AUSTIN. xi + 225 pp.

  • GEHLBACH, FREDERICK R. 1991. THE EAST-WEST TRANSITION ZONE OF TERRESTRIAL VERTEBRATES IN CENTRAL TEXAS: A BIOGEOGRAPHICAL ANALYSIS. TEXAS J. SCI. 43(4):415-427.

  • Krysko, K. L., K. M. Enge, and P. E. Moler. 2011. Atlas of amphibians and reptiles in Florida. Final report to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tallahassee, Florida. Submitted 15 December 2011.

  • Lohoefener, R. and R. Altig. 1983. Mississippi herpetology. Mississippi State University Research Center, NSTL Station, Mississippi. 66 pp.

  • Martof, B. S., W. M. Palmer, J. R. Bailey, and J. R. Harrison, III. 1980. Amphibians and reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 264 pp.

  • Means, D. B., J. Y. Lamb, and J. Bernardo.  2017.  A new species of dusky salamander (Amphibia: Plethodontidae: Desmognathus) from the Eastern Gulf Coastal Plain of the United States and a redescription of D. auriculatus.  Zootaxa 4263(3):467-506.

  • Means, D. B., and J. Travis. 2007. Declines in ravine-inhabiting dusky salamanders of the southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain. Southeastern Naturalist 6(1):83-96.

  • Means, D. B., and J. Travis. 2007. Declines in ravine-inhabiting dusky salamanders of the southeastern US coastal plain. Southeastern Naturalist 6(1):83-96.

  • Means, D. B.  1999.  Desmognathus auriculatus.  Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 681:1-6.

  • Means, D.B. 1999. Desmognathus auriculatus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 681:1-6.

  • Mirarchi, R. E., M. A. Bailey, T. M. Haggerty, and T. L. Best, editors. 2004. Alabama wildlife. Volume 3. Imperiled amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 225 pages.

  • Mirarchi, R.E., editor. 2004. Alabama Wildlife. Volume 1. A checklist of vertebrates and selected invertebrates: aquatic mollusks, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 209 pages.

  • Mount, R. H. 1975. The reptiles and amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn, Alabama. vii + 347 pages.

  • Mount, R. H. 1975. The reptiles and amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn, Alabama. vii + 347 pp.

  • Mount, R. H., editor. 1986. Vertebrate animals of Alabama in need of special attention. Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn University, Alabama. 124 pages.

  • Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D. C.

  • Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

  • SEYLE, W., AND G. K. WILLIAMSON. 1988 (IN PREP). REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS OF GEORGIA: RANGE MAPS

Use Guidelines & Citation

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2018.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2018 NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Dr., 7th Floor, Arlington Virginia 22203, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.