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Assessment Results

© 2017 Dr. Joachim Nerz (1 of 12 )

AmphibiaWeb species account

IUCN Red List assessment

Conservation Needs Assessment

Phaeognathus hubrichti ,   Red Hills Salamander
Assessed for:  United States   on: 04 Oct 2018   by: Vincent Farallo  
Assessment Status: Completed  
Order:   Caudata     Family:   Plethodontidae

IUCN Global Red List:   Endangered (EN)   
IUCN National Red List:   (not assessed)   
Distribution:     United States  
Evolutionary Distinctiveness score:   30.02467313 
Recommended Conservation Actions:   In Situ Conservation  , In Situ Research   
Additional Comments:   Initial assessment data compiled by C. Kenneth Dodd Jr. 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. The account was updated by Vincent Farallo in October 2018. 

Question #Short NameQuestion TextResponseComments
1 Extinction risk Current IUCN Red List category. [Data obtained from the IUCN Red List.] Endangered (EN)
2 Possibly extinct Is there a strong possibility that this species might be extinct in the wild? No / unlikely
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? Yes / probably Virtually all Red Hills salamander habitat is on private land, with only two areas owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Alabama. Several (n = 25) excellent tracts of habitat remained in private ownership in 1988, and these were recommended for acquisition for conservation purposes (Dodd, 1988). To date, none have been acquired. Long-term protection is best assured through private landowner cooperation. With that in mind, Dodd (1988, 1991) recommended a series of management actions that would help to maintain the integrity of salamander habitat, especially in areas where forestry occurred.
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? Unknown They have a restricted range and specific ecology which makes it difficult to assess whether there are suitable areas for reintroduction.
6 Previous reintroductions Have reintroduction or translocation attempts been made in the past for this species? No
7 Threat mitigation Are the threats facing the taxon, including any new and emerging threats not considered in the IUCN Red List, potentially reversible? Threats are likely to be reversible in time frame to prevent further decline / extinction It is apparent that clearcutting and other forestry practices reduce or eliminate Red Hills salamanders in what was once optimal habitat. If burrow systems are destroyed mechanically, as by plowing, tilling, or other forms of intensive site preparation, Red Hills salamanders disappear or are confined to small refugia unimpacted by site disturbance.
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 Although the species as a whole is not over collected, there are certain populations which likely have been (Hammerson and Dodd 2004).
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? Unknown Because of the secretive nature of this species, there are no range-wide estimates of abundance, either current or historical.
10 Biological distinctiveness Does the taxon exhibit, for example, a distinctive reproductive mode, behaviour, aspect of morphology or physiology, within the Order to which it belongs (e.g. Anura, Passeriformes etc.)? No aspect of biology known to be exceptional However it is a monotypic genus, so there is certainly importance for evolutionary studies of plethodontid salamanders.
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
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 the Order to which it belongs (e.g. Anura, Passeriformes 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? No
15 Captive breeding Has this species been successfully bred and/or maintained in captivity? Maintained but no successful breeding A single animal is listed in ZIMS at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden (2017).
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 They are fossorial and very secretive.
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
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)? Yes The species and genus was described by Highton (1961). Some studies have assess genetic variation (e.g., McKnight et al. 1991) and the species was included in a study on Phaeognathus hubrichti (e.g., Titus and Larson 1996) have been completed. The McKnight et al. paper suggest there are two forms that should be protected when conserving this species.