Desmognathus orestes - Tilley and Mahoney, 1996
Blue Ridge Dusky Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Desmognathus orestes Tilley and Mahoney, 1996 (TSN 550245)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106222
Element Code: AAAAD03150
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: Tilley, S. G., and M. J. Mahoney. 1996. Patterns of genetic differentiation in salamanders of the Desmognathus ochrophaeus complex (Amphibia: Plethodontidae). Herpetological Monographs 10:1-41.
Concept Reference Code: A96TIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Desmognathus orestes
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly included in Desmognathus ochrophaeus. Based on patterns of allozyme variation, Tilley and Mahoney (1996) split D. ochrophaeus into four species: D. ochrophaeus, D. carolinensis, D. ocoee, and D. orestes. Mead and Tilley (2000) and Highton (2000) presented evidence that D. orestes exists as two forms; further study is needed to determine if the forms warrant recognition as distinct species. Mead et al. (2001) examined variation in allozymes, mtDNA, and behavior and concluded that D. orestes is best regarded as a single species.
Conservation Status
Help

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 23Aug2004
Global Status Last Changed: 17Oct2001
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Common at higher elevations throughout its range in the Blue Ridge area of southwestern Virginia, northwestern North Carolina, and northeastern Tennessee; minimal need for protective measures.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (10Nov2000)

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 North Carolina (S3S4), Tennessee (S3), Virginia (S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Blue Ridge Physiographic Province from Floyd County, Virginia, to somewhere between Linville Falls and McKinney Gap on the Blue Ridge Divide (Burke and McDowell counties, North Carolina) and to the headwaters of Toms and Clark creeks about 1.5 km northeast of Iron Mountain Gap on the North Carolina-Tennessee boundary (Tilley and Mahoney 1996) (this headwaters area is in Mitchell and Unicoi counties, according to Tilley and Mahoney 1996, or in Avery and Carter counties, according to Petranka 1998). Elevational range at least 609-1,432 m (based on data in Tilley and Mahoney 1996).

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Number of occurrences has not been determined but may fall within the indicated range.

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Common at higher elevations throughout its range (Petranka 1998). Total adult population size is unknown but likely exceeds 100,000.

Viability/Integrity Comments: Likely most occurrences have good viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: "Local populations are often severely depressed after clear-cutting, and low-elevation populations may take many decades to recover following intensive timbering" (Petranka et al. 1994, Petranka 1998).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend is unknown but likely stable to slightly declining.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Probably relatively stable in most respects.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: In minimal need of protection (Petranka 1998).

Distribution
Help
Global Range: (5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)) Blue Ridge Physiographic Province from Floyd County, Virginia, to somewhere between Linville Falls and McKinney Gap on the Blue Ridge Divide (Burke and McDowell counties, North Carolina) and to the headwaters of Toms and Clark creeks about 1.5 km northeast of Iron Mountain Gap on the North Carolina-Tennessee boundary (Tilley and Mahoney 1996) (this headwaters area is in Mitchell and Unicoi counties, according to Tilley and Mahoney 1996, or in Avery and Carter counties, according to Petranka 1998). Elevational range at least 609-1,432 m (based on data in Tilley and Mahoney 1996).

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 NC, TN, 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

Ecology & Life History
Help
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cliff, Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: At lower elevations and in winter usually concentrates near seepage areas, springs, and small streams; may range into adjacent wooded areas in wet weather. More terrestrial at higher elevations, characteristic inhabitant of floor of spruce-fir forests. Often abundant on wet rock faces. Eggs are laid in wet rock crevices or under rocks, logs, or moss in seepage areas or near small streams.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Metamorphosed individuals eat various small terrestrial invertebrates.
Adult Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Active at all seasons in mild weather. Annual activity season (spring-fall) is prolonged for populations in seepage areas. Most active at night but diurnal activity also is common.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Help
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Help
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: 23Aug2004
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 18Oct1997

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

References
Help
  • 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.

  • Highton, R. 2000. Detecting cryptic species using allozyme data. Pages 215-241 in R. C. Bruce, R. G. Jaeger, and L. D. Houck, editors. The biology of plethodontid salamanders. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York. xiii + 485 pp.

  • Mead, L. S., S. G. Tilley, and L. A. Katz. 2001. Genetic structure of the Blue Ridge dusky salamander (Desmognathus orestes): inferences from allozymes, mitochondrial DNA, and behavior. Evolution 55:2287-2302.

  • Mead, L. S., and S. G. Tilley. 2000. Ethological isolation and variation in allozymes and dorsolateral pattern between parapatric forms in the DESMOGNATHUS OCHROPHAEUS complex. Pages 181-198 in R. C. Bruce, R. G. Jaeger, and L. D. Houck, editors. The biology of plethodontid salamanders. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York. xiii + 485 pp.

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

  • Petranka, J. W., M. P. Brannon, M. E. Hopey, and C. K. Smith. 1994. Effects of timber harvesting on low elevation populations of southern Appalachian salamanders. Forest Ecology and Management 67:135-147.

  • Tilley, S. G., and M. J. Mahoney. 1996. Patterns of genetic differentiation in salamanders of the Desmognathus ochrophaeus complex (Amphibia: Plethodontidae). Herpetological Monographs 10:1-41.

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.