Desmognathus fuscus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae

Scientific Name: Desmognathus fuscus (Green, 1818)
Common Name(s):
English Dusky Salamander
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2014. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6 (27 January 2014). New York, USA. Available at: (Accessed: 27 January 2014).
Taxonomic Notes: Based on allozyme data, Desmognathus fuscus conanti has been proposed as a distinct species (Titus and Larson 1997). Petranka (1998) considered these data but retained conanti as a subspecies. Bonett (2002) examined the contact zone between fuscus and conanti using allozyme and color pattern data and concluded that D. fuscus and D. conanti should be regarded as distinct species, based on parapatry in western Kentucky with only a minor amount of hybridization. Bonett noted that D. conanti might be a composite of two species, one ranging from northeastern Alabama to South Carolina and the other from western Kentucky to northern Alabama and southwest-central Mississippi. Bonett mentioned ongoing studies that might be useful in resolving the taxonomy of this Group. Pending further information on the taxonomic status of these entities, conanti is here retained as a subspecies of D. fuscus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Geoffrey Hammerson
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in North America from southern New Brunswick, southeastern Quebec, and southern Ontario (Kamstra 1991) southwest to eastern Ohio, southern Illinois, Mississippi, and eastern Louisiana; disjunctive populations in northeastern Arkansas and southern Arkansas-northern Louisiana; southeast to western and central Carolinas, northern and central Georgia, and the Florida panhandle. Populations in the southern part of the range were proposed as a distinct species (D. conanti) by Titus and Larson (1996), but the proposed split is premature without further data from the contact zone (Petranka 1998).
Countries occurrence:
Canada; United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Total adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 100,000. There are numerous stable populations throughout the range.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It can be found in rock-strewn woodland streams, seepages, and springs in north; floodplains, sloughs, and mucky sites along upland streams in south. Usually near running or trickling water. It hides under leaves, rocks, or other objects in or near water, or in burrows. Eggs are laid near water under moss (e.g., in Tennessee; see Hom 1988) or rocks, in logs, and in stream-bank cavities. Its larval stage usually aquatic.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No major widespread threats. Locally, populations are reduced by water pollution from mining runoff and urbanization impacts (Petranka 1998).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: None are needed.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.9. Wetlands (inland) - Freshwater Springs and Oases

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Barbour, R.W. 1971. Amphibians and Reptiles of Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington.

Behler, J.L. and King, F.W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York.

Blackburn, L., Nanjappa, P. and Lannoo, M.J. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA.

Bonett, R.M. 2002. Analysis of the contact zone between the dusky salamanders Desmognathus fuscus fuscus and Desmognathus fuscus conanti (Caudata: Plethodontidae). Copeia: 344-355.

Conant R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA, USA.

Conant, R. and Collins, J.T. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Conant, R. and Collins, J.T. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. Third edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA, USA.

DeGraaf, R.M. and Rudis, D.D. 1983. Amphibians and Reptiles of New England: Habitats and Natural History. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, USA.

Folkerts, G.W. 1968. The genus Desmognathus Baird (Amphibia: Plethodontidae) in Alabama. Ph.D. Dissertation, pp. 129 pp. Auburn Univ., Auburn, Alabama.

Green, N.B. and Pauley, T.K. 1987. Amphibians and Reptiles in West Virginia. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Grover, M.C. and Wilbur, H.M. 2002. Ecology of ecotones: interactions between salamanders on a complex environmental gradient. Ecology: 2112-2123.

Hom, C.L. 1987. Reproductive ecology of female dusky salamanders, Desmognathus fuscus (Plethodontidae), in the southern Appalachians. Copeia: 768-777.

Hom, C.L. 1988. Cover object choice by female dusky salamanders, Desmognathus fuscus. Journal of Herpetology: 247-249.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2004).

Kamstra, J. 1991. Rediscovery of the northern dusky salamander, Desmognathus f. fuscus, in Ontario. Canadian Field-Naturalist: 561-563.

Karlin, A.A. and Guttman, S.I. 1986. Systematics and isozyme variation in the Plethodontid salamander Desmognathus fuscus (Rafinesque). Herpetologica: 283-301.

Means, D.B. and Karlin, A.A. 1989. A new species of Desmognathus from the eastern Gulf Coastal Plain. Herpetologica: 37-46.

Minton Jr, S.A. 1972. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science Monographs 3, Indianapolis, IN, USA.

Mount, R.H. 1975. The Reptiles and Amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn, Alabama.

Redmond, W.H. and Scott, A.F. 1996. Atlas of Amphibians in Tennessee (Miscellaneous Publication Number 12). The Center for Field Biology, Austin Peay State University, Miscellaneous Publication Number 12, Clarksville, TN, USA.

Rossman, D.A. 1958. A new race of Desmognathus fuscus from the south-central United States. Herpetologica: 158-160.

Tilley, S.G. 1988. Hybridization between two species of Desmognathus (Amphibia: Caudata: Plethodontidae) in the Great Smoky Mountains. Herpetological Monographs: 27-39.

Titus, T.A. and Larson, A. 1996. Molecular phylogenetics of desmognathine salamanders (Caudata: Plethodontidae): a reevaluation of evolution in ecology, life history, and morphology. Systematic Biology: 451-472.

Willson, J.D. and Dorcas, M.E. 2003. Effects of habitat disturbance on stream salamanders: implications for buffer zones and watershed management. Conservation Biology: 763-771.

Wyman, R.L. 1988. Soil acidity and moisture and the distribution of amphibians in five forests of southcentral New York. Copeia: 394-399.

Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson. 2004. Desmognathus fuscus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T59249A11906400. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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