Desmognathus organi - Crespi, Browne, and Rissler, 2010
Northern Pygmy Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.844116
Element Code: AAAAD03200
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)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Crespi, E. J., R. A. Browne, and L. J. Rissler. 2010. Taxonomic revision of Desmognathus wrighti (Caudata: Plethodontidae). Herpetologica 66:283-295.
Concept Reference Code: A10CRE01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Desmognathus organi
Taxonomic Comments: This species formerly was included in Desmognathus wrighti. It was determined to be a distinct species by Crespi et al. (2010).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 08Sep2010
Global Status Last Changed: 08Sep2010
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Occurs in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee; apparently stable with healthy populations, but loss of forest habitat due to logging, recreational development, acid rain, and insect pests is a concern.

Nation: United States
National Status: N3 (08Sep2010)

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 (S2), Tennessee (SNR), Virginia (S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Range includes higher elevations (generally above 1,100 meters) north of the French Broad River valley northward to Whitetop Mountain and Mt. Rogers, Virginia (including the Black Mountains, Yancey County, North Carolina; Grandfather Mountain, Avery County, North Carolina; Roan Mountain, Carter County, Tennessee; and Whitetop Mt. and Mt. Rogers, Smyth/Grayson Counties, Virginia (Crespi et al. 2010). The species also occurs at lower elevations, particularly on north-facing slopes, but the highest densities occur at elevations higher than 1,500 meters (Organ 1961). This species encompasses former D. wrighti populations that occur north and east of the French Broad River (Crespi et al. 2010).

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is known from at least a few dozen sites within its small range (see map in Crespi et al. 2010).

Population Size: Unknown
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown. Common in old-growth forests, but uncommon in young forest stands (Petranka 1998). Rare throughout range and extremely rare in Virginia (Pague 1991).

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The following refers to Desmognathus wrighti before it was split into two species (D. wrighti and D. organi).

Threats include fragmentation of spruce-fir forest through logging and increased recreational development, factors that open the forest canopy (e.g., acid rain, spruce budworm, etc.), and (locally) overcollecting (Pague 1991; J. Organ, pers. comm., 1997). Occurs at high elevation; much of spruce-fir forest in this area has been destroyed by acid rain and Balsam woolly aphid (S. Tilly, pers. comm., 1997). Red spruce-Fraser fir forests are declining in many high elevation sites of the southern Appalachians. The extent to which local populations are being affected as these forests disappear is not known (Petranka, in press). Any loss of habitat would be a serious threat to populations in Virginia (Pague 1991).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Populations appear to be viable within the Virginia portion of the range (Mitchell 1991). Virginia population appears to be stable (J. Organ, pers. comm., 1997). Populations across range are stable, common, and healthy; no reason to consider threatened (S. Tilly, pers., comm., 1997).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Determine population densities at known localities and monitor for long-term trends.

Protection Needs: Mitchell (1991) recommended that trail development not include increased access to high elevation spruce-fir forests (to discourage overcollecting).

Distribution
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Global Range: Range includes higher elevations (generally above 1,100 meters) north of the French Broad River valley northward to Whitetop Mountain and Mt. Rogers, Virginia (including the Black Mountains, Yancey County, North Carolina; Grandfather Mountain, Avery County, North Carolina; Roan Mountain, Carter County, Tennessee; and Whitetop Mt. and Mt. Rogers, Smyth/Grayson Counties, Virginia (Crespi et al. 2010). The species also occurs at lower elevations, particularly on north-facing slopes, but the highest densities occur at elevations higher than 1,500 meters (Organ 1961). This species encompasses former D. wrighti populations that occur north and east of the French Broad River (Crespi et al. 2010).

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
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NC Ashe (37009), Avery (37011), Buncombe (37021), Caldwell (37027), McDowell (37111)*, Mitchell (37121), Watauga (37189), Yancey (37199)
VA Grayson (51077), Smyth (51173), Washington (51191)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper Catawba (03050101)+
05 Upper New (05050001)+
06 South Fork Holston (06010102)+, Watauga (06010103)+, Upper French Broad (06010105)+, Nolichucky (06010108)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Development include no aquatic larval stage; metamorphosis occurs within egg. Female remains with eggs until hatching. Males mature during their fourth year of growth, whereas females mature approximately one-half year later (Organ 1961). Individuals live up to about 10 years (Organ 1961).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Forest/Woodland
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris, Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Adults can be found in forest habitats from late spring through autumn but inhabit underground aquatic habitats or seepage areas in winter (Organ 1961). In forests, individuals can be found under moss, leaf litter, logs, bark on stumps, or rocks. In wet or foggy weather, they may ascend trees to at least 2 meters above ground. Eggs are laid in underground cavities among rocks of spring seeps.

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Determine effect of logging on overall population.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 08Sep2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 08Sep2010
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
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  • Conant, R. and J. T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians: eastern and central North America. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts. 450 pp.

  • Crespi, E. J. 1996. Mountaintops as islands: genetic variability of the pygmy salamander (DESMOGNATHUS WRIGHTI, family Plethodontidae) in the southern Appalachians. M.S. thesis, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

  • Crespi, E. J., R. A. Browne, and L. J. Rissler. 2010. Taxonomic revision of Desmognathus wrighti (Caudata: Plethodontidae). Herpetologica 66:283-295.

  • Crespi, E.J., R.A. Browne, and L.J. Rissler. 2010. Taxonomic revision of Desmognathus wrighti (Caudata: Plethodontidae). Herpetologica 66:283-295.

  • Harrison, J.R., III. 2000. Desmognathus wrighti. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 704:1-7.

  • Mitchell, J. C. 1991. Amphibians and reptiles. Pages 411-76 in K. Terwilliger (coordinator). Virginia's Endangered Species: Proceedings of a Symposium. McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia.

  • Organ, J. A. 1961. Life history of the pigmy salamander, Desmognathus wrighti, in Virginia. American Midland Naturalist 66:386-390.

  • Pague, C. A. 1991. Amphibians and reptiles. Pages 411-76 in K. Terwilliger (coordinator). Virginia's Endangered Species: Proceedings of a Symposium. McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia.

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

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