New County Records and Other Data Since 1996

Desmognathus ochrophaeus complex

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Changes

Since publication of Atlas of Amphibians in Tennessee (Redmond and Scott 1996), populations of the D. ochrophaeus complex in Tennessee have been divided into five full species, two of which are new to science.  The first partitioning of the complex was published by Tilley and Mahoney (1996), who recognized four species, three occurring in the mountains along the states eastern border, and one of questionable identity (due to the lack of electrophoretic analysis) scattered across the Cumberland Plateau. From southwest to northeast, those described from along the eastern border include D. ocoee (Ocoee Salamander) from the Georgia line to Indian Gap (Sevier County), D. carolinensis (Carolina Mountain Dusky Salamander) from Round Mountain (Cocke County) to the headwaters of Birchlog Creek (Unicoi County), and D. orestes (sp. nov.) (Blue Ridge Dusky Salamander) from Roan Mountain (Carter County) and Sinking Creek (Washington County) to the Virginia line. The second partitioning (Anderson and Tilley 2003) followed studies of allozyme variation in the questionable populations from the Cumberland Plateau.  Results indicated that, in Tennessee, populations from Walden Ridge in the southern portion of the Cumberland Plateau are D. ocoee; populations from the northern Cumberland Plateau and Cumberland Mountains are D. ochrophaeus (Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander); and those in the central portion of the plateau represent a new species, D. abditus (Cumberland Dusky Salamander).  Samples from a population on the Eastern Highland Rim in Coffee County (previously referred to by Miller [1991] as D. ochrophaeus) were considered to represent yet another distinct form that will require additional study before resolving its taxonomic affinities. The most current distribution maps for the species of this complex in Tennessee are provided by Niemiller and Reynolds (2011).

Literature Cited

Anderson, J. A. and S. G. Tilley.  2003.  Systematics of the Desmognathus ochrophaeus complex in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee.  Herpetological Monographs 17:75-110.

Miller, B. T. 1991. Geographic distribution: Desmognathus ochrophaeus. Herpetol. Rev. 22:133.

Niemiller and R. G. Reynolds (eds.).  2011.  The amphibians of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 369 pp.

Redmond, W. H. and A. F. Scott.  1996.  Atlas of amphibians in Tennessee.  Miscellaneous Publication No. 12, The Center for Field Biology, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN. 94 pp.

Tilley, S. G. and M. J. Mahoney. 1996.  Patterns of genetic differentiation in salamanders of the Desmognathus ochrophaeus complex (Amphibia: Plethodontidae). Herpetological. Monographs 10:1-42.

New County Records

D. abditus - Rhea County

Niemiller, M. L. 2011. Cumberland Dusky Salamander. Pp. 105-107 In M. L. Niemiller and R. G. Reynolds (eds.), The amphibians of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 369 pp. 

D. ochrophaeus - Clairborne, Fentress and Morgan counties 

Niemiller, M. L. 2011. Allegheny Mountain Salamander. Pp. 128-130 In M. L. Niemiller and R. G. Reynolds (eds.), The amphibians of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 369 pp.

D. ocoee - Hamilton, Rhea and Sequatchie counties

Niemiller, M. L. and R. G. Reynolds. 2011. Ocoee Salamander. Pp. 131-133 In M. L. Niemiller and R. G. Reynolds (eds.), The amphibians of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 369 pp.