Desmognathus santeetlah - Tilley, 1981
Santeetlah Dusky Salamander
Other English Common Names: Santeetlah dusky salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Desmognathus santeetlah Tilley, 1981 (TSN 173643)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101251
Element Code: AAAAD03110
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: 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 santeetlah
Taxonomic Comments: Desmognathus santeetlah hybridizes extensively with D. conanti along the northwestern escarpment of the Great Smoky Mountains (Tilley 1988). Recognition of Desmognathus santeetlah as a distinct species is questionable under the biological species concept. Hence, Petranka reduced Desmognathus santeetlah to a subspecies of D. fuscus. Tilley (2000) pointed out that Desmognathus santeetlah populations are phenotypically distinctive and represent a an evolutionary lineage; he treated Desmognathus santeetlah as a species under the evolutionary/phylogenetic species concepts. Desmognathus santeetlah occurs with D. conanti without hybridization in the Unicoi Mountains, but this may be due to allopatry on a microgeographic scale (Tilley 1981, 2000; Petranka 1998).

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 determined that the Desmognathus conanti clade includes Desmognathus santeetlah, which renders D. conanti paraphyletic, so further taxonomic revision is warranted.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4Q
Global Status Last Reviewed: 21Mar2002
Global Status Last Changed: 17Oct2001
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Small range in the southern Appalachians; populations are stable, with no known significant existing threats.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4 (13Dec2000)

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 (S2S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Higher elevations of the Unicoi, Cheoah, Great Smoky, and Great Balsam mountain ranges of the southwestern Blue Ridge Physiographic Province in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee (Tilley 2000); elevations of 640-1805 m (2100-5920 ft), usually above 1000 m (Conant and Collins 1991, Tilley 2000).

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Tilley (2000) mapped more than 100 collection sites; these represent at least a few dozen distinct occurrences (assuming a separation gap of 1 km between occurrences).

Population Size: Unknown
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown.

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The major threat is probably acid rain; no hard evidence (H. LeGrand, pers. comm., 1997). Potential threats: sensitive to stream pollution and siltation (such as in coal mining areas) (Petranka 1998).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Populations stable, common, and healthy; no reason to consider threatened (S. Tilley, pers. comm., 1997).

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

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Determine densities of known populations and monitor for trends.

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) Higher elevations of the Unicoi, Cheoah, Great Smoky, and Great Balsam mountain ranges of the southwestern Blue Ridge Physiographic Province in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee (Tilley 2000); elevations of 640-1805 m (2100-5920 ft), usually above 1000 m (Conant and Collins 1991, Tilley 2000).

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

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
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Basic Description: A medium-sized salamander.
Reproduction Comments: Lays clutch averaging 21 eggs, mostly in June. Hatching occurs in lab in 50-60 days. Males sexually mature in about 2 yeras, females in about 3 years (Jones 1986).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Stream headwaters and seepage areas, where ground water percolates to surface through muck, mossy rocks, IMPATIENS, and nettles. Under rocks in a few mm of water at margins of seeps, among gravel and cobble where water percolates. Eggs are laid mostly beneath mosses growing on rocks, on logs, or on soil surface. Nest sites 16-83 cm from nearest open water, commonly beneath mosses on logs lying in and around seepage areas (Jones 1986).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Phenology Comments: Secretive, under cover by day.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Determine affects of acid rain.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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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
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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: 21Mar2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and M. K. Clausen
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 19Jan1990
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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  • 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.

  • 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. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. xvii + 429 pp.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jones, R. L. 1986. Reproductive biology of DESMOGNATHUS FUSCUS and DESMOGNATHUS SANTEETLAH in the Unicoi Mountains. Herpetologica 42:323-334.

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

  • Redmond, W. H., and A. F. Scott. 1996. Atlas of amphibians in Tennessee. The Center for Field Biology, Austin Peay State University, Miscellaneous Publication Number 12. v + 94 pp.

  • TILLEY, S. C. 1981. A NEW SPECIES OF DESMOGNATHUS FROM THE SOUTHERN APPLACHIAN MOUNTAINS. OCCASIONAL PAPERS OF THE MUS. OF ZOOL., UNIV. OF MICHIGAN. NO. 695:1-23.

  • Tilley, S. G. 1988. Hybridization between two species of DESMOGNATHUS (Amphibia: Caudata: Plethodontidae) in the Great Smoky Mountains. Herpetol. Monogr. 2:27-39.

  • Tilley, S.G. 1981. A new species of Desmognathus (Amphibia: Caudata: Plethodontidae) from the southern Appalachian Mountains. Occas. Pap. Mus. Zool., Univ. Michigan 695:1-23.

  • Tilley, S.G. 2000. Desmognathus santeetlah. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 703:1-3.

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