Phaeognathus hubrichti - Highton, 1961
Red Hills Salamander
Other English Common Names: Red Hills salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Phaeognathus hubrichti Highton, 1961 (TSN 173725)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103613
Element Code: AAAAD11010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Salamanders
Image 12034

Public Domain

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae Phaeognathus
Genus Size: A - Monotypic genus
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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: Phaeognathus hubrichti
Taxonomic Comments: Molecular data indicate the existence of two "forms" of this species (McKnight et al. 1991).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 19Apr2007
Global Status Last Changed: 30Oct2001
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Small range in south-central Alabama; status of remaining habitat still largely unknown; estimated to have previously occupied 255 square kilometers (63,000 acres); much habitat has been altered or destroyed by forest management activities; number of extant occurrences is unknown; many known are in poor condition; reproductive potential is low.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2 (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)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (03Dec1976)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast
IUCN Red List Category: EN - Endangered

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-20,000 square km (about 400-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Red Hills physiographic region of south-central Alabama, between the Alabama and Conecuh rivers (Dodd 2005). Restricted to Tallahatta and Hatchetigbee geological formations. Butler, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, and Monroe counties (Bury et al. 1980).

Area of Occupancy: 126-2,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Historical area of occupancy has been estimated at 63,000 acres (255 square kilometers).

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Dodd (1988) found salamanders at 123 of 144 surveyed sites, although some were contiguous populations. This species is represented by 13 discrete populations (Dodd 1991).

Population Size: Unknown
Population Size Comments: Population estimates difficult due to secretive (fossorial) habits and isolated location of populations. Not rare (K. Dodd, pers. comm., 1995). Local abundance varies considerably (Dodd 2005).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: High - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Habitat has been reduced by timber harvest and by conversion of forest to cropland/pasture; conversion of mesic ravines to pine monocultures and clearing of ridgetops above ravines destroys or degrades habitat. Land-use practices that destroy burrow systems generally eliminate local populations or restrict them to undisturbed refugia (Dodd 2005). Nearly all habitat is on private timber company lands, and detrimental forestry practices continue (Dodd 1989, Dodd 1991), though some problems have been alleviated by management agreements (K. Dodd, pers. comm., 1995).

Feral hogs are a threat in localized areas.

Overcollecting may have caused a decline in some areas (Bury et al. 1980, Jordan and Mount 1975).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Most habitat is owned by timber companies; logging activities continue to degrade salamander habitat; recovery of affected areas is slow. USFWS (1990) categorized the status as "declining." Populations likely are stable in areas unaffected by forestry, but these are few in southern Alabama (Dodd 2005).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Current evidence indicates significant declines in abundance and area of occupancy. Some populations have been extirpated, but the current overall range is basically the same as the historical range (Dodd 2005). Current abundance at some sites probably equals historical abundance, but at other sites abundance has been drastically reduced (Dodd 2005).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Inventory sites in areas identified as potential (and as yet not surveyed) habitat by K. Dodd on page 30 of his 1988 report to USFWS.

Protection Needs: Recommended recovery goal is to acquire or otherwise protect a refuge of at least 16,000 ha within the current range (see recovery plan, 1983). Dodd (1991) recommended for protection 25 sites where the habitat still supports relatively large populations; to maintain maximum possible genetic diversity, the sites should be distributed on both sides of the Sepulga River (McKnight et al. 1991). Corridors of suitable habitat should be maintained between remaining populations.

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-20,000 square km (about 400-8000 square miles)) Red Hills physiographic region of south-central Alabama, between the Alabama and Conecuh rivers (Dodd 2005). Restricted to Tallahatta and Hatchetigbee geological formations. Butler, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, and Monroe counties (Bury et al. 1980).

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 state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL

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)
AL Butler (01013), Conecuh (01035), Covington (01039), Crenshaw (01041), Monroe (01099), Wilcox (01131)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper Conecuh (03140301)+, Patsaliga (03140302)+, Sepulga (03140303)+, Middle Alabama (03150203)+, Lower Alabama (03150204)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Large (225 mm) dark terrestrial salamander.
Reproduction Comments: Terrestrial breeder (Means 2003). Oviposition occurs in late June-early July; incubation in July-August (Means 2003). Clutch size around 4-9. Unlikely to live much beyond 11 years (Parham et al. 1996, J. Herpetol. 30:401-404).
Ecology Comments: Ten study sites in optimal habitat averaged 5 salamander burrows per 100 sq m (range 2.6-9.4) (Dodd 1989, Dodd 1990). Adults exhibit burrow fidelity but show nonexclusive use of burrows (Carroll et al. 2000). Burrows are relatively short-lived after abandonment (Gunzburger and Guyer 1998). In one area, burrow occupancy rate was 0.80 individuals per burrow; density was 0.5 individuals per sq m, which probably is near the upper density limit (Carroll et al. 2000).
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: Slopes of mesic, shaded ravines dominated by hardwood trees (big-leaf magnolia and southern magnolia with mountain laurel and oak-leaf hydrangea). Often in moderately steep areas with a northern exposure. Most often on high, steep, uncut slopes with high soil moisture content and full tree canopy (Dodd 1991). Lives in burrows that often open in leaf-litter-free areas near base of tree or under siltstone outcroppings. Eggs are laid probably in cavities inside burrows.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats insects and spiders obtained near burrows.
Adult Phenology: Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Most likely to be at burrow entrance at night during the warmer months; may be active underground in winter (Bakkegard 2002).
Length: 26 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: To reduce negative impact of timber harvest: avoid clear cutting on steep slopes, avoid mechanical site preparation, maintain canopy cover of at least 67%, maintain woody litter on ground, maintain forested buffers adjacent to occupied habitat, minimize surface disturbance during selective cutting, avoid toxic sprays (Dodd 1989, Dodd 1991). Long-rotation, limited select-cutting does not appear to be detrimental if surface disturbance to the upper and middle slopes is minimized (Dodd 1991). Preserved areas of habitat require little stewardship other than enforcing timber harvest and overcollecting restrictions.

See LaClaire (1995) for a review of the Habitat Conservation Plan between USFWS and International Paper Timberlands Operating Company.

A recovery plan is available (USFWS 1983).

Monitoring Requirements: "When estimating population size for conservation efforts, surveys should be conducted at night and at multiple times and dates during the warmer months of the year because not all salamanders are present at [burrow] entrances at any one time" (salamanders spend an average of 12.3 continuous hours at an entrance each day) (Bakkegard 2002). Adult females may not be present at ground surface during the season of oviposition (late June-early July) and possibly throughout the incubation period, July and August (Means 2003). See also Dodd (1990) for information on census methods.

PIT tags have been used successfully for marking adults; the method involved surgical implantation of tags in anesthetized individuals (Carroll et al. 2000).

Management Research Needs: Determine the microenvironmental effects of various timber management practices.
Biological Research Needs: Obtain data on reproductive viability and recruitment within existing populations. Determine impacts of fragmentation on genetic diversity, concurrent with mitochondrial DNA and electrophoretic studies. Determine relationship between the number of burrows and the resident population size. Study p.Population demographics.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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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 (1) collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding, or (2) reliable observation of one or more of the species' characteristic burrows.
Separation Barriers: Second-order and higher streams, areas of likely formerly occupied but presently degraded habitat such as cleared land or pine plantations, railroads, two-lane or wider paved or graded roads (but not smaller logging roads), or urban areas dominated by buildings and pavement.
Alternate Separation Procedure: Separation distance for unsuitable habitat: 1 km
Separation distance for apparently suitable habitat (e.g., at least some slopes 15 degrees, siltstone outcroppings, mesic deciduous forest): 2.5 km
Separation distance for apparently suitable but unsurveyed habitat: 5 km

Separation Justification: What constitutes a major barrier remains poorly known. Red Hills salamanders are thought to have limited surface activity and dispersal ability (Jordan and Mount 1975), but this remains poorly studied. Until better data are available, major graded or paved roads (usually county- or state-maintained) through occupied habitat will be treated as dispersal barriers. Because Red Hills salamanders shun aquatic habitats, second-order and higher streams (especially those with distinct floodplains) are presumed to pose barriers to dispersal.
Unsuitable habitat includes areas lacking sufficient topographical relief (i.e., having slopes of less than 15 degrees), lacking siltstone outcroppings, or lacking deciduous forest cover.
The separation criteria do not necessarily separate occurrences on opposite slopes of narrow ridges, even though the degree of dispersal, if any, over ridge tops has not been documented. Because several field inventories have been completed (French and Mount 1978, Dodd 1988, Bailey 1992), and have shown that suitable habitat within the salamander¿s known range is generally occupied, the minimal distance criteria are considered reasonable.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .2 km
Date: 17May1998
Author: Bailey, M. A., and G. Hammerson
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: 04Apr2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Bailey, Mark A., and G. Hammerson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Apr2005
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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  • Bailey, M. A. 1992. Red Hills salamander habitat inventory and status, International Paper Company lands, Monroe and Conecuh counties, Alabama. Unpublished report to IPC. 49 pp.

  • Bailey, M. A. 1995. The Red Hills salamander. Alabama's Treasured Forests 14(1):28-29.

  • Bakkegard, K. A. 2002. Activity patterns of Red Hills salamanders (Phaeognathus hubrichti) at their burrow entrances. Copeia 2002:851-856.

  • 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.

  • Brandon, R.A. 1966. Phaeognathus, P. hubrichi. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 26:1-2.

  • Bury, R. B., C. K. Dodd, Jr., and G. M. Fellers. 1980. Conservation of the Amphibia of the United States: a review. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C., Resource Publication 134. 34 pp.

  • Carroll, A., E. L. Blankenship, M. A. Bailey, and C. Guyer. 2000. An estimate of maximum local population density of Red Hills salamanders (PHAEOGNATHUS HUBRICHTI). Amphibia-Reptilia 21:260-263.

  • 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.

  • Dodd, C. K., Jr. 1989. Status of the Red Hills salamander is reassessed. Endangered Species Tech. Bull. 14(1-2): 10-11.

  • Dodd, C. K., Jr. 1990b. Line transect estimation of Red Hills salamander burrow density using Fourier series. Copeia 1990:555-557.

  • Dodd, C. K., Jr. 1991. The status of the Red Hills salamander, PHAEOGNATHUS HUBRICHTI, Alabama, USA, 1976-1988. Biological Conservation 55:57-75.

  • Dodd, C. K., Jr. 2005. Phaeognathus hubrichti Highton, 1961. Red Hills salamander. Pages 785-787 in M. Lannoo, editor. Amphibians declines: the conservation status of United States species. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  • Dodd, Jr, C.K. 2005. Red Hills Salamander. Phaeognathus hubrichti Highton, 1961. Status and Conservation of U.S. Amphibians. Volume 2: Species Accounts. Lannoo, M.J.,editor. University of California Press. Berkeley, California.

  • French, T. W., and R. H. Mount. 1978. Current status of the Red Hills salamander, PHAEOGNATHUS HUBRICHTI Highton, and factors affecting its distribution. J. Alabama Academy Science 49:172-179.

  • 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.

  • Gunzburger, M. S., and C. Guyer. 1998. Longevity and abandonment of burrows used by the Red Hills salamander (PHAEOGNATHUS HUBRICHTI). Journal of Herpetology 32:620-623.

  • Jordan, R., and R. H. Mount. 1975. The status of the Red Hills salamander, PHAEOGNATHUS HUBRICHTI Highton. J. Herpetology 9:211-215.

  • LaClaire, L. 1995. Red Hills salamander HCP. Endangered Species Bulletin 20(6):20-21.

  • Matthews, J.R. and C.J. Moseley (eds.). 1990. The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Endangered Species of North America. Volume 1. Plants, Mammals. xxiii + pp 1-560 + 33 pp. appendix + 6 pp. glossary + 16 pp. index. Volume 2. Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fishes, Mussels, Crustaceans, Snails, Insects, and Arachnids. xiii + pp. 561-1180. Beacham Publications, Inc., Washington, D.C.

  • McKnight, M. L., C. K. Dodd, Jr., and C. M. Spolsky. 1991. Protein and mitochondrial DNA variation in the salamander PHAEOGNATHUS HUBRICHTI. Herpetologica 47:440-447.

  • Means, D. B. 2003. Notes on the reproductive biology of the Alabama Red Hills salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti ). Contemporary Herpetology 2003(3).

  • Means, D.B. 2003. Notes on the reproductive biology of the Alabama Red Hills Salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti). Contemporary Herpetology. 2003(3):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.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1980. Selected vertebrate endangered species of the seacoast of the United States--redhills salamander. FWS/OBS-80/01.50.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1983. Red Hills salamander recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1990. Endangered and threatened species recovery program: report to Congress. 406 pp.

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