Desmognathus wrighti - King, 1936
Southern Pygmy Salamander
Other English Common Names: Pygmy Salamander, southern pygmy salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Desmognathus wrighti King, 1936 (TSN 173645)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.844117
Element Code: AAAAD03100
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 wrighti
Taxonomic Comments: Desmognathus organi (Crespi et al. 2010) formerly was included in this species.

Crespi et al. (2010) referred to this species as "pygmy salamander." The English name "southern pygmy salamander" is provisionally adopted here in order to help distinguish this species from the one that was called "pygmy salamander" before D. organi (northern pygmy salamander) was recognized as a distinct species.
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 southern Appalachian Mountains of 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 (S2S3), Tennessee (S2S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Range includes wooded areas above 1,400 meters within the southern Appalachian Mountains within the Blue Ridge Physiographic province, including the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee and the Plott Balsam Mountains and Great Balsam Mountains of North Carolina, as well as areas at lower elevations (e.g., at 950-1,400 meters within the Cowee Mountains, Nantahala Mountains, and Unicoi Mountains of North Carolina (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).

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 wooded areas above 1,400 meters within the southern Appalachian Mountains within the Blue Ridge Physiographic province, including the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee and the Plott Balsam Mountains and Great Balsam Mountains of North Carolina, as well as areas at lower elevations (e.g., at 950-1,400 meters within the Cowee Mountains, Nantahala Mountains, and Unicoi Mountains of North Carolina (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

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NC Clay (37043), Haywood (37087), Henderson (37089), Jackson (37099), Macon (37113), Swain (37173), Transylvania (37175)
TN Carter (47019), Cocke (47029)*, Greene (47059)*, Knox (47093)*, Sevier (47155), Unicoi (47171)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Tugaloo (03060102)+
06 Watauga (06010103)+, Holston (06010104)+*, Upper French Broad (06010105)+, Pigeon (06010106)+, Lower French Broad (06010107)+, Nolichucky (06010108)+*, Watts Bar Lake (06010201)+*, Upper Little Tennessee (06010202)+, Tuckasegee (06010203)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Egg laying occurs in winter and perhaps in spring or fall. Clutch size: 3-14. Hatching has been observed in fall. No aquatic larval stage; metamorphosis occurs within egg. Female remains with eggs until hatching.
Ecology Comments: Predators include carabid beetles and Gyrinophilus salamanders.

Based on removal sampling in 30 x 30 m plots in North Carolina, Petranka and Starnes (2001) estimated minimum density at 3,700 individuals per hectare.

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: Chiefly spruce-fir forests, also (in lower abundance) hardwood forests at lower elevations (Harrison 2000), though Petranka (1998) stated that these salamanders often occur at relatively high densities in mature mesophytic cove forests at lower elevations. Hides under moss, leaf litter, logs, bark on stumps, and rocks. Ascends trees to about 2 meters in wet or foggy weather. Spends winter in underground seepages. Eggs are laid in underground cavities among rocks of spring seeps.
Food Comments: Diet includes small invertebrates.
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Specimens have been recorded from May through September in the Great Smoky Mountains. Activity in the open occurs on dark humid nights.
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
Help
  • Crespi, E. J., R. A. Browne, and L. J. Rissler. 2010. Taxonomic revision of Desmognathus wrighti (Caudata: Plethodontidae). Herpetologica 66:283-295.

  • 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.

  • HUHEEY, J. E. 1966. THE DESMOGNATHINE SALAMANDER OF THE GREAT SMOKEY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK. J. OHIO HERPETOL. SOC. 5:63-72.

  • ORGAN, J. A. 1961. STUDIES OF THE LOCAL DISTRIBUTION, LIFE HISTORY AND POPLUATION DYNAMICS OF THE SALAMANDER GENUS DESMOGNATHUS IN VIRGINIA. ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS 31(2):189-220.

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