© 2010 Todd Pierson (1 of 21)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Desmognathus aeneus young hatch between mid-June and mid-July. The clutch sizes range from 8-15 eggs. Their eggs are large with white embryos that can be seen through a transparent jelly coat and associated membranes. The adults primarily feed on arthropods with beetle larvae (Staphylinidae and Carabidae) its most common food source (Donavan and Folkerts 1972). Adult stomachs have also contained collembolas, arachnids, immature diptera, and even other D. aeneus, although cannibalism is thought to be uncommon (Jones 1981; Donavan and Folkerts1972).
The reproductive behavior of Desmognathus aeneus is similar to its congeners. Like all plethodontids the desmognathine salamanders use a tail-straddling walk to transfer a spermatophore from the male to the female. This walk is the culmination of an elaborate courtship ritual that involves inputs from both the female and male salamanders (see Verrell and Mabry 2000). Unlike most other plethodontids, D. aeneus along with D. wrighti use a “prolonged biting phase,” in which the male bites the female while forcefully restraining her. This biting is used to transfer male pheromones to the female and is associated with vigorous rhythmic thrashing of the head (Promislow 1987).
Trends and Threats
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
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Collazo, A. and Marks, S. B. (1989). ''Development and evolution in two species of plethodontid salamanders with differing life histories.'' American Zoologist, 29(4), 86A.
Donavan, L. A. and Folkerts, G. W. (1972). ''Food of the Seepage Salamander Desmognathus aeneus.'' Herpetologica, 28(1), 35-37.
Folkerts, G. W. (1968). The genus Desmognathus Baird (Amphibia: Plethodontidae) in Alabama. Ph.D. dissertation. Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.
Hairston, N. G. (1980). ''Species packing in the salamander genus Desmognathus: what are the interspecific interactions involved?'' American Naturalist, 15(3), 354-366.
Hairston, N. G., Sr., and Wiley, R. H. (1993). ''No decline in salamander (Amphibia: Caudata) populations: a twenty-year study in the Southern Appalachians.'' Brimleyana, (18), 59-64.
Harrison, J. R. (1992). ''Desmognathus aeneus (Brown and Bishop). Cherokee Salamander.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 534.1-534.4.
Jones, R. L. (1982). ''Distribution and ecology of the Seepage Salamander Desmognathus aeneus (Amphibia Plethodontidae) in Tennessee, USA.'' Brimleyana, 7, 95-100.
Livingston, P. G., Spencer, C. C., and Stuart, B. L. (1995). ''Caudata: Desmognathus aeneus (Seepage Salamander).'' Herpetological Review, 26(4), 207.
Marks, S. A. and Collazo, A. (1988). ''Post-neurula development in a plethodontid salamander Desmognathus aeneus.'' American Zoologist, 28(4), 12A.
Marks, S. B. (1994). ''Development of the hyobranchial apparatus in Desmognathus aeneus, a direct developing salamander.'' Journal of Morphology, 220(3), 371.
Marks, S. B., Shubin, N., and Wake, D. (1992). ''Limb development in the plethodontid salamander genus Desmognathus: Separating hypotheses of ancestry, function, and life history.'' American Zoologist, 32(5), 147A.
Marks, S. and Collazo, A. (1998). ''Direct development in Desmognathus aeneus (Caudata: Plethodontidae): a staging table.'' Copeia, 1988(3), 637-648.
Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
Promislow, D. E. L. (1987). ''Courtship behavior of a plethodontid salamander Desmognathus aeneus.'' Journal of Herpetology, 21(4), 298-306.
Redmond, W. H., and Scott, A. F. (1996). Atlas of Amphibians in Tennessee. Miscellaneous Publication 12, The Center for Field Biology, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee.
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, 45(4), 451-472.
Verrell, P. A., and Mabry, M. (2000). ''The courtship of plethodontid salamanders: form, function and phylogeny.'' The Biology of Plethodontid Salamanders. R. C. Bruce, R. G. Jaeger, and L. D. Houck, eds., Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Press, New York, NY.
Wake, D. B. and Hanken, J. (1996). ''Direct development in the lungless salamanders: what are the consequences for developmental biology, evolution, and phylogenesis?'' International Journal of Developmental Biology, 40, 859-869.
Wake, D. B., Roth, G. and Nishikawa, K. C. (1987). ''The fate of the lateral line system in plethodontid salamanders.'' American Zoologist, 27(4), 166A.
Wake, D.B. (1966). ''Comparative osteology and evolution of the lungless salamanders, family Plethodontidae.'' Memoirs of the Southern California Academy of Sciences , 4, 1-111.
Written by Ryan Kerney (kerney AT fas.harvard.edu), Museum of Comparative Zoology
First submitted 2003-01-11
Edited by Meredith Mahoney, David Wake, and James Hanken (2003-02-03)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2003 Desmognathus aeneus: Seepage Salamander <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/3917> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 25, 2018.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2018. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 25 Apr 2018.
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