Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Type: Article
Published: 2022-09-22
Page range: 587-595
Abstract views: 481
PDF downloaded: 36

Allocation of Salamandra auriculata Holbrook, 1838, with a new species of swamp-dwelling dusky salamander (Plethodontidae: Desmognathus) from the Atlantic Coastal Plain

1Department of Biological Sciences, The George Washington University, 2023 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20052. 2Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560
Department of Natural Sciences, Nash Community College, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Amphibian Foundation, 4055 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30342
Amphibia Carolina Swamp Dusky Salamander Desmognathus valtos sp. nov. taxonomy nomenclature cryptic species


Most swamp-dwelling dusky salamanders of the genus Desmognathus from the Coastal Plain were long treated as a single species (Desmognathus auriculatus) ranging from east Texas to southeastern Virginia. This taxon concept was based on the name Salamandra auriculata Holbrook, 1838 with type locality Riceboro, Liberty County, Georgia and a type series that could not be located by later authors. Recent workers have been unable to locate or verify swamp-dwelling populations from east Texas and western Louisiana, which appear to be extirpated and may not have represented a distinct taxon from co-occurring lineages of D. conanti. Recent molecular phylogenies have supported at least four distinct species-level taxa within D. auriculatus. Populations from the Gulf Coastal Plain in eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, and southwestern Alabama were recently described as D. valentinei Means, Lamb, and Bernardo, 2017 and D. pascagoula Pyron, O’Connell, Lamb, and Beamer, 2022. This leaves two remaining species-level lineages with uncertain taxonomy and nomenclature: D. auriculatus A (Alabama, Florida, and Georgia), and D. auriculatus B/C (Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina), both of which occur near the type locality. We recently located a specimen at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris (MNHN 0.4675) that we concluded is one of Holbrook’s syntypes and designated it as the lectotype, but without allocation. Here, we use linear morphometrics to confidently allocate it to D. auriculatus A, bolstered by examination of three historical topotypic collections. This requires a new name for D. auriculatus B/C, which we describe as D. valtos sp. nov. (suggested common name: Carolina Swamp Dusky Salamander) from Otter Creek, Craven County, North Carolina. Other related and sympatric species of Desmognathus remain to be described from the Atlantic Coastal Plain and adjacent Piedmont of the southeastern United States.



  1. Beamer, D.A. & Lamb, T. (2008) Dusky salamanders (Desmognathus, Plethodontidae) from the Coastal Plain: multiple independent lineages and their bearing on the molecular phylogeny of the genus. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 47, 143–153.
    Beamer, D.A. & Lamb, T. (2020) Towards rectifying limitations on species delineation in dusky salamanders (Desmognathus: Plethodontidae): an ecoregion-drainage sampling grid reveals additional cryptic clades. Zootaxa, 4734 (1), 1–61.
    Bingham, R.E., Papenfuss, T.J., Lindstrand, L. & Wake, D.B. (2018) Phylogeography and species boundaries in the Hydromantes shastae complex, with description of two new species (Amphibia; Caudata; Plethodontidae). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 161, 403–427.
    Bishop, S.C. (1943) Handbook of Salamanders. Comstock Publishing, Ithaca, New York, 555 pp.
    Burger, W.L., Smith, P.W. & Smith, H.M. (1949) Notable records of reptiles and amphibians in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science, 24, 130–134.
    Chandler, H.C., Stevenson, D.J., Stegenga, B. & Lamb, J.Y. (2018) Geographic distribution: Georgia, USA: Desmognathus cf. auriculatus. Herpetological Review, 49, 68.
    Dodd, C.K. (1998) Desmognathus auriculatus at Devil’s Millhopper State Geological Site, Alachua County, Florida. Florida Scientist, 61, 38–45.
    Graham, S.P., Timpe, E.K. & Laurencio, L.R. (2010) Status and possible decline of the Southern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus auriculatus) in Georgia and Alabama, USA. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 5, 360–373.
    Grobman, A.B. (1950) The distribution of the races of Desmognathus fuscus in the southern states. Natural History Miscellanea, 70, 1–8.
    Hibbitts, T.J., Wahlberg, S.A. & Voelker, G. (2015) Resolving the identity of Texas Desmognathus. Southeastern Naturalist, 14, 213–220.
    Holbrook, J.E. (1838) North American Herpetology: or, a description of the reptiles inhabiting the United States. 1st Edition. Vol. III. J. Dobson, Philadelphia, viii + 122 pp., XXX pls.
    Livezey, R.L. (1950) An intergrade population of the Texas subspecies of Desmognathus fuscus. The American Midland Naturalist, 43, 600–604.
    Maes, D., Isaac, N.J., Harrower, C.A., Collen, B., Van Strien, A.J. & Roy, D.B. (2015) The use of opportunistic data for IUCN Red List assessments. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 115, 690–706.
    Means, D.B. (1974) The status of Desmognathus brimleyorum Stejneger and an analysis of the genus Desmognathus (Amphibia, Urodela) in Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, 18, 1–100.
    Means, D.B. (1999) Desmognathus auriculatus (Holbrook) Southern Dusky Salamander. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles, 681, 1–6.
    Means, D.B. (2015) Petition to list the Southern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus auriculatus) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy, Tallahassee, Florida, 40pp.
    Means, D.B., Lamb, J.Y. & Bernardo, J. (2017) A new species of dusky salamander (Amphibia: Plethodontidae: Desmognathus) from the eastern Gulf Coastal Plain of the United States and a redescription of D. auriculatus. Zootaxa, 4263 (3), 467–506.
    Neill, W.T. & Rose, F.L. (1949) Nest and eggs of the Southern Dusky Salamander, Desmognathus fuscus auriculatus. Copeia, 1949, 234–234.
    O’Connell, K.A., Mulder, K.P., Wynn, A., de Queiroz, K. & Bell, R.C. (2022) Genomic library preparation and hybridization capture of formalin-fixed tissues and allozyme supernatant for population genomics and considerations for combining capture- and RADseq-based single nucleotide polymorphism data sets. Molecular Ecology Resources, 22, 487–502.
    Pyron, R.A. & Beamer, D.A. (2022) A nomenclatural and taxonomic review of the salamanders (Urodela) from Holbrook’s North American Herpetology. Zootaxa, 5134 (2), 151–196.
    Pyron, R.A., Beamer, D.A., Holzheuser, C.R., Lemmon, E.M., Lemmon, A.R., Wynn, A.H. & O’Connell, K.A. (2022a) Contextualizing enigmatic extinctions using genomic DNA from fluid-preserved museum specimens of Desmognathus salamanders. Conservation Genetics, 23, 375–386.
    Pyron, R.A., O’Connell, K.A., Lamb, J.Y. & Beamer, D.A. (2022b) A new, narrowly endemic species of swamp-dwelling dusky salamander (Plethodontidae: Desmognathus) from the Gulf Coastal Plain of Mississippi and Alabama. Zootaxa, 5133 (1), 53–82.
    Pyron, R.A., O’Connell, K.A., Lemmon, E.M., Lemmon, A.R. & Beamer, D.A. (2020) Phylogenomic data reveal reticulation and incongruence among mitochondrial candidate species in dusky salamanders (Desmognathus). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 146, 106751.
    Pyron, R.A., O’Connell, K.A., Lemmon, E.M., Lemmon, A.R. & Beamer, D.A. (2022c) Candidate‐species delimitation in Desmognathus salamanders reveals gene flow across lineage boundaries, confounding phylogenetic estimation and clarifying hybrid zones. Ecology and Evolution, 12, e8574.
    Robertson, W.B. & Tyson, E.L. (1950) Herpetological notes from eastern North Carolina. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society, 66, 130–147.
    Sanders, O. & Smith, H.M. (1949) Some noteworthy records of amphibians in Texas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, 52, 28.
    Valentine, B.D. (1963) The salamander genus Desmognathus in Mississippi. Copeia, 1963, 130–139.
    Verrell, P.A. (1997) Courtship in desmognathine salamanders: the Southern Dusky Salamander, Desmognathus auriculatus. Journal of Herpetology, 31, 273–277.