Desmognathus ochrophaeus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae

Scientific Name: Desmognathus ochrophaeus
Species Authority: Cope, 1859
Common Name(s):
English Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2014. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0 (7 July 2014). Electronic Database. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: Populations in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee that were previously known as this species were assigned to Desmognathus abditus (Anderson and Tilley 2003).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-08-25
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Stuart, S.N.
Contributor(s): Hammerson, G.A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Sharp, D. & Hobin, L.
Listed as Least Concern in view of the large extent of occurrence, large number of sub-populations and localities, and presumed large population size.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2004 Least Concern (LC)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs in the USA and Canada, on ridges of the Ridge and Valley Physiographic Province, including Brumley, Clinch, Walker, and Potts mountains of southwestern Virginia; Cumberland Mountains and Plateau of southeastern Kentucky, and the Allegheny Mountains and Plateau of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York through the Adirondack Mountains to southern Quebec (Tilley and Mahoney 1996). Additional populations exist in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee and extending as far as western North Carolina and northern Georgia (Anderson and Tilley 2003, COSEWIC 2007).
Countries occurrence:
Canada (Québec); United States (Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000. There are not sufficient data to determine population trends.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It can be found at lower elevations and in winter it usually concentrates near seepage areas, springs, and small streams. Animals may range into adjacent wooded areas in wet weather. It is more terrestrial at higher elevations, characteristic inhabitant of floor of spruce-fir forests. It is often abundant on wet rock faces. Eggs are laid in wet rock crevices or under rocks, logs, or moss in seepage areas or near small streams. The larvae develop in water.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There are no records of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats of widespread significance. Potential future threats include groundwater extraction which limits the volume of water available in the species habitat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions
No conservation is needed as it occurs in many protected areas. 

Research Needed
This species has only recently been discovered in Canada due in part to being mistaken for D. fuscus, and so further research in to its range, habitat, and population in Canada, particularly Ontario, is needed.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.9. Wetlands (inland) - Freshwater Springs and Oases
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Anderson, J.A. and Tilley, S.G. 2003. Systematics of the Desmognathus ochrophaeus complex in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee. Herpetological Monographs: 75–110.

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.

COSEWIC. 2007. COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence and Carolinian Populations) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa.

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.

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

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Sharbel, T.F. and Bonin, J. 1992. Northernmost record of Desmognathus ochrophaeus: biochemical identification in the Chateauguay River drainage basin, Quebec. Journal of Herpetology: 505-508.

Species at Risk Branch. 2002. Species at Risk Range Maps. Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada. (, Ottawa.

Tilley, S.G. 1973. Desmognathus ochrophaeus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles: 1-4.

Tilley, S.G. 1974. Structure and dynamics of populations of the salamander Desmognathus ochrophaeus Cope in different habitats. Ecology: 808-817.

Tilley, S.G. and Mahoney, M.J. 1996. Patterns of genetic differentiation in salamanders of the Desmognathus ochrocephalus complex (Amphibia: Plethodontidae). Herpetological Monographs: 1-41.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2015. Desmognathus ochrophaeus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T59253A63999116. . Downloaded on 01 December 2015.
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