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Assessment Results

© 2017 Alexander Murray (1 of 21 )

AmphibiaWeb species account

IUCN Red List assessment

Conservation Needs Assessment

Desmognathus ochrophaeus ,   Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander
Assessed for:  United States   on: 26 Dec 2017   by: Walter Smith  
Assessment Status: Completed  
Order:   Caudata     Family:   Plethodontidae

IUCN Global Red List:   Least Concern (LC)   
IUCN National Red List:   (not assessed)   
Distribution:     Canada, United States  
Evolutionary Distinctiveness score:   14.40511924 
Recommended Conservation Actions:   In Situ Research  , Ex Situ Research   
Additional Comments:   Initial assessment data compiled by Thomas K. Pauley and Mark B. Watson from “Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species”, edited by Michael Lannoo (©2005 by the Regents of the University of California), used with permission of the editor. The book is available from UC Press, http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/9484.html, and species accounts can be found on AmphibiaWeb, www.amphibiaweb.org. Original species account transcribed by Kevin Johnson. 

Question #Short NameQuestion TextResponseComments
1 Extinction risk Current IUCN Red List category. [Data obtained from the IUCN Red List.] Least Concern (LC) This species is common and abundant across its range. However, the species is listed as Endangered in Ontario and Threatened in Quebec due to its incredibly restricted distribution within those provinces. In Canada, the species is known from only two localities in the Niagara Gorge in Ontario (Markle et al. 2013) and an estimated 6-8 streams in a small area of Quebec (Canada Species At Risk Public Registry 2017).
2 Possibly extinct Is there a strong possibility that this species might be extinct in the wild? No / unlikely Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamanders appear to be common and abundant across much of their range, reaching high numbers under locally suitable conditions.
3 Phylogenetic significance The taxon’s Evolutionary Distinctiveness (ED) score, as generated by the ZSL EDGE program. (These data are not editable by Assessors). ED value 20 - 50
4 Protected habitat Is a population of at least 50% of the individuals of the taxon included within a reliably protected area or areas? No / unlikely While several national forests, national parks, and state/local conservation lands exist across the range of this species, the majority of the Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander's range occurs across areas containing a high proportion of privately-owned land. This includes large areas containing former and current surface mining activities across southern and central portions of the Appalachian Plateau. Northern portions of the species' range overlap with areas under heavy development for gas extraction activities.
5 Habitat for reintroduction Does enough suitable habitat exist, either within or outside of currently protected areas that is suitable for potential reintroduction or translocation? Yes / probably While much of this species' range occurs on privately-owned land, large tracts of publicly-owned land do exist across its range that could facilitate translocations and/or reintroductions.
6 Previous reintroductions Have reintroduction or translocation attempts been made in the past for this species? No No known attempts have been made to reintroduce or translocate this species in the past. However, Ontario does list reintroductions/translocations as a possible strategy for conserving the species across its very limited range in that Canadian province (Markle et al. 2013).
7 Threat mitigation Are the threats facing the taxon, including any new and emerging threats not considered in the IUCN Red List, potentially reversible? Species does not require conservation action While the species is listed as Threatened or Endangered in two Canadian provinces, this is almost entirely due to its restricted geographic range in that nation. The species as a whole does not appear to be suffering from an ongoing or impending large-scale decline.
8 Over-collection from the wild Is the taxon suffering from unsustainable collection within its natural range, either for food, for the pet trade or for any other reason, which threatens the species’ continued persistence in the wild? No / unlikely
9 Population recovery Is the known population of this species in the wild large enough to recover naturally, without ex situ intervention if threats are mitigated? Yes / probably While populations have undoubtedly been lost to activities such as surface mining and intensive deforestation, there are few to no data to support recent, substantial range reductions.
10 Biological distinctiveness Does the taxon exhibit, for example, a distinctive reproductive mode, behaviour, aspect of morphology or physiology, within its Class (e.g. Amphibia, Reptilia etc.)? No aspect of biology known to be exceptional
11 Cultural/socio-economic importance Does the taxon have a special human cultural value (e.g. as a national or regional symbol, in a historic context, featuring in traditional stories) or economic value (e.g. food, traditional medicine, tourism) within its natural range or in a wider global context? No While other members of the Dusky Salamander genus are known for their wide public collection and use as bait by anglers, little evidence exists to support or refute this species' inclusion as a commonly-used bait species.
12 Scientific importance Is the species vital to current or planned research other than species-specific ecology/biology/conservation? (e.g. human medicine, climate change, environmental pollutants and conservation science), within its Class (e.g. Amphibia, Reptilia etc.)? No research dependent on this species
13 Ex situ research Does conserving this species (or closely related species) in situ depend upon research that can be most easily carried out ex situ? No
14 Husbandry analog Do the biological and ecological attributes of this species make it suitable for developing husbandry regimes for more threatened related species? i.e. could this species be used in captivity to help to develop husbandry and breeding protocols which could be used for a similar, but more endangered species at a later stage? Yes (Tim Herman, pers. comm.).
15 Captive breeding Has this species been successfully maintained and bred in captivity? Yes, bred to F1
16 Educational potential Is the species especially diurnal/active/colourful and therefore suited to be an educational ambassador for conservation of this group of species? No
17 Mandate Is there an existing conservation mandate recommending the ex situ conservation of this taxon? No
18 Range State approval Would a proposed ex situ initiative for this species be supported (and approved) by the range State (either within the range State or out-of-country ex situ)? Yes / probably Canada lists reintroductions and translocations in its possible strategies for conserving the species in isolated populations in Ontario (Markle et al. 2013). Therefore, it is likely that ex situ programs may be supported if needed under such a conservation program.
19 Founder specimens Are sufficient animals of the taxon available or potentially available (from wild or captive sources) to initiate the specified ex situ program? Yes / probably
20 Taxonomic status Has a complete taxonomic analysis of the species in the wild been carried out, to fully understand the functional unit you wish to conserve (i.e. have species limits been determined)? No Extensive past systematic/taxonomic work has been performed into understanding the evolutionary history of the Dusky Salamander genus. However, given the Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander's large geographic range - as well as the known morphological conservatism and corresponding high levels of genetic diversity in desmognathine salamanders - it is likely that as-of-yet undiscovered, cryptic lineages exist across its range. A more detailed examination of this species should be performed rangewide to ascertain the validity of its current taxonomic status.

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