New County Records and Other Data Since 1996

Desmognathus wrighti complex - Pygmy Salamanders

Since publication of Atlas of Amphibians in Tennessee (Redmond, W. H. and A. F. Scott. 1996. The Center for Field Biology, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN. 94 pp.), several applicable taxonomic and nomenclatural changes and numerous reports of new county records have appeared in the literature. Comments, accompanied by cited references, on the taxonomic and nomenclatural changes plus bibliographical information on new county records as they pertain to D. wrighti follow:

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Changes

Nearly a decade and a half after publication of Atlas of Amphibians in Tennessee (Redmond and Scott 1996), Desmognathus wrighti was split into two species, one retaining the original species name and the newly described taxon assuming the name Desmognathus organi (Northern Pygmy Salamander) in honor of James Organ who published the first article on the life history of populations (known at D. wrighti at the time) in southwestern Virginia (Crespi et al. 2010).  In Tennessee, the dividing line between the two high-elevation species is the French Broad River, with D. wrighti occurring in the mountains southwest of the river and D. organi in mountains northeast of the river (Crespi et al. 2010). The most current distribution maps for the species of this complex in Tennessee are provided by Niemiller and Reynolds (2011).

Literature Cited:

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.

Crespi, E. J., R. A. Browne and L. J. Rissler.  2010.  Taxonomic revision of Desmognathus wrighti (Caudata: Plethodontidae).  Herpetologica 66:283-295.

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

New County Records 

Blount County

Wyckoff, G. R. and M. L. Niemiller. 2011. Pygmy Salamander. Pp. 147-149 In M. L. Niemiller and R. G. Reynolds (eds.), The amphibians of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 369 pp. 

Monroe County 

Reynolds, R. G., M. L. Niemiller, and S. A. Pasachnik.  2011.  Occurrence of pygmy salamanders (Desmognathus wrighti) in Monroe County. Tennessee.  Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science, 86:53-55. 

Sullivan County

McDonald, H. N.  2001.  The impact of logging on aquatic salamander communities.  M.S. thesis, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City.  36 pp.

The animals cited in this study were referred to by the name Desmognathus wrighti, but all came from an area within the range of the recently described species D. organi (see section above on taxonomic and nomenclatural changes).