Desmognathus abditus
Cumberland Dusky Salamander
Subgenus: Desmognathus
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Plethodontinae

© 2015 Todd Pierson (1 of 9)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Near Threatened (NT)
NatureServe Status Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
National Status None
Regional Status None

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

bookcover The following account is modified from Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, edited by Michael Lannoo (©2005 by the Regents of the University of California), used with permission of University of California Press. The book is available from UC Press.

Desmognathus abditus Anderson and Tilley, 2003
            Cumberland Dusky Salamander

Editor's note: The publication (Anderson and Tilley, 2003) describing Cumberland dusky salamanders (Desmognathus abditus) appeared as the present ms. was being prepared for publication.  I have extracted the pertinent life history and natural history data from this publication and asked Dr. Tilley, the junior author, to verify its accuracy. 

1. Historical versus Current Distribution.  Unknown.  The current distribution of this recently-described salamander includes the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, in Cumberland, Morgan, and Grundy counties (Anderson and Tilley, 2003).  The northern-most known sites are just south of the Cumberland Mountains section of the Plateau in the vicinity of Wartburg, Morgan County, Tennessee.  The southern- and western-most known sites are on the southern ridge of Walden Mountian near Tracey City, Grundy County, Tennessee.

2. Historical versus Current Abundance.  Historical data are unavailable.  Anderson and Tilley (2003) note how difficult it can be to locate these salamanders (and by extension to do population surveys), a feature contributing to the specific name of this species. 

3. Life History Features.

            A. Breeding.

                        i. Breeding migrations.  Unknown.

                        ii. Breeding habitat.  Unknown, gravid females have not been collected.

            B. Eggs.

                        i. Egg deposition sites.  Unknown; eggs have not been observed or collected.

                        ii. Clutch size.  Unknown, neither gravid females nor eggs have been discovered.

            C. Larvae/Metamorphosis.  Larvae have not been collected.

            D. Juvenile Habitat.  Likely to be the same as adults.

            E. Adult Habitat.  Specimens have been found " ... under rocks along small streams and under moss and debris on vertical rock surfaces behind cascades.  Most individuals have been located on land within one meter of surface water."

            F. Home Range Size.  Unknown.

            G. Territories.  Unknown. 

            H. Aestivation/Avoiding Dessication.  Unknown.
            I. Seasonal Migrations.  Unknown, but probably do not occur.

            J. Torpor (Hibernation).  Unknown.

            K. Interspecific Associations/Exclusions.  Seepage salamanders are sympatric with larger desmognathines, including northern dusly salamanders (D. fuscus), seal salamanders (D. monticola) and Black Mountain salamanders (D. welteri).  They will hybridize with Allegheny Mountain dusky salamanders (D. ochrophaeus) "at the escarpment of the Cumberland Mountains in the vicinity of Frozen Head, just north of Wartburg, Morgan County," Tennessee (Anderson and Tilley, 2003).  They will also hybridize with Ocoee salamanders (D. ocoee) along Walden Ridge, near Tracy City, Grundy County, Tennessee (Anderson and Tilley, 2003).

            L. Age/Size at Reproductive Maturity.  Unknown.

            M. Longevity.  Unknown.

            N. Feeding Behavior.  As with other species of Desmognathus, prey likely include leaf litter invertebrates.

            O. Predators.  Unknown, but individuals could be preyed upon occasionally by large sympatric Desmognathus, other salamanders, snakes, small mammals, and possibly species of birds that forage in leaf litter.

            P. Anti-Predator Mechanisms.  Anderson and Tilley (2003) write: "When disturbed, they often run rapidly toward water and are extremely adept at escape."

            Q. Diseases.  Unknown.

            R. Parasites.  Unknown.

4. Conservation.  Maintaining intact habitat for Cumberland dusky salamanders should be a top priority.  This recently described species has had no studies done on population size or viability; they do not receive protection by the state of Tennessee or by the federal government. 

Literature references for Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, edited by Michael Lannoo, are here.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 23 Jan 2021.

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