This species can be found in the Red Hills of south-central Alabama, USA, between the Alabama and Conecuh Rivers (Petranka 1998). It is restricted to Tallahatta and Hatchetigbee geological formations. It can also be found in Butler, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, and Monroe Counties (Bury, Dodd and Fellers 1980; Dodd 1991).
Habitat and Ecology
The primary habitat is slopes of mesic shaded ravines dominated by hardwood trees (big-leaf magnolia and southern magnolia with mountain laurel and oak-leaf hydrangea). It is often found 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). It lives in burrows that often open in leaf-litter-free areas near the base of trees or under siltstone outcroppings. Eggs are laid in cavities inside burrows (Means 2003). Embryos develop directly within the eggs. It can tolerate selective logging or clear-cutting as long as burrows are not destroyed mechanically, as by plowing, tilling, or other forms of intensive site preparation.
It is not rare (K. Dodd pers. comm. 1995), although current evidence indicates significant losses over the 63,000 estimated acres of formerly occupied habitat. Local abundance varies considerably, and population estimates are difficult to arrive at due to the secretive (fossorial) habits of the species and the isolated locations of populations.
The habitat of this species has been reduced by timber harvest; the conversion of mesic ravines to pine monocultures and the clearing of ridge tops above ravines destroys or degrades available habitat. Overcollecting may have caused a decline in some areas (Bury, Dodd and Fellers 1980; Jordan and Mount 1975). Nearly all habitats are on private timber company lands, and detrimental forestry practices continue (Dodd 1989, 1991), though some problems have been alleviated by management agreements (K. Dodd pers. comm. 1995). Feral pigs are a threat in some areas.
It does not occur in any officially protected areas, although three areas (less than 15 acres) are set aside to support a limited population. Two areas are in public ownership: Lookout Hill Fire Tower (Alabama Forestry Commission) and Haines Island (US Army Corps of Engineers). Long-term protection is best assured through private landowner cooperation, and Dodd (1991) recommended a series of management actions that would help to maintain the integrity of salamander habitat. It is protected as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act and is listed as a protected non-game species by the state of Alabama.
Red List Status
Listed as Endangered, because its Extent of Occurrence is less than 5,000 km2 and its Area of Occupancy is less than 500 km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in the extent and quality of its forest habitat in Alabama.
Geoffrey Hammerson, Kenneth Dodd 2004. Phaeognathus hubrichti. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T16801A6440166. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2004.RLTS.T16801A6440166.en .Downloaded on 20 February 2019