Desmognathus imitator Dunn, 1927

Class: Amphibia > Order: Caudata > Family: Plethodontidae > Subfamily: Plethodontinae > Genus: Desmognathus > Species: Desmognathus imitator

Desmognathus fuscus imitator Dunn, 1927, Copeia, 164: 84. Holotype: USNM 72762, by original designation. Type locality: "Indian Pass, Great Smoky Mts., N[orth]. C[arolina].", USA.

Desmognathus aureatagulus Weller, 1930, Proc. Junior Soc. Nat. Hist. Cincinnati, 1: 3rd page (not numbered). Syntypes: Including USNM 93686 according to Cochran, 1961, Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus., 220: 11. Type locality: "trail between Newfound Gap and Indian Pass, 4400 to 5000 feet", Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Mount LeConte, Sevier County, Tennessee, USA. Synonymy by Weller, 1931, Proc. Junior Soc. Nat. Hist. Cincinnati, 2: 8.

Desmognathus imitatorTilley, Merritt, Wu, and Highton, 1978, Evolution, 32: 100.

Desmognathus (Desmognathus) imitatorDubois and Raffaëlli, 2012, Alytes, 28: 144. See comment under Desmognathus regarding the status of this subgenus. 

English Names

Imitator Salamander (Collins, Huheey, Knight, and Smith, 1978, Herpetol. Circ., 7: 5; Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 31; Collins, 1997, Herpetol. Circ., 25: 6; Crother, Boundy, Campbell, de Queiroz, Frost, Highton, Iverson, Meylan, Reeder, Seidel, Sites, Taggart, Tilley, and Wake, 2001 "2000", Herpetol. Circ., 29: 21; Tilley, Highton, and Wake, 2012, in Crother (ed.), Herpetol. Circ., 39: 16; Collins and Taggart, 2009, Standard Common Curr. Sci. Names N. Am. Amph. Turtles Rept. Crocodil., ed. 6: 12; Tilley, Highton, and Wake, 2012, in Crother (ed.), Herpetol. Circ., 39: 25; Powell, Conant, and Collins, 2016, Field Guide Rept. Amph. E. North Am., 4th ed.: 46; Highton, Bonett, and Jockusch, 2017, in Crother (ed.), Herpetol. Circ., 43: 26).

Imitator Dusky Salamander (Raffaëlli, 2022, Salamanders & Newts of the World: 975).


Throughout the Great Smoky Mountains at all elevations, eastern North Carolina and western Tennessee, USA.

Geographic Occurrence

Natural Resident: United States of America, United States of America - North Carolina, United States of America - Tennessee

Endemic: United States of America


See detailed accounts by Tilley, 1985, Cat. Am. Amph. Rept., 359: 1–2, and Petranka, 1998, Salamand. U.S. Canada: 182–184, who noted that a population in the Balsam Mountains might constitute a distinct species. Verrell and Tilley, 1992, Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 104: 67–80, suggested that nominal Desmognathus imitator might contain more than one species Tilley, 2000, in Bruce et al., Biol. Plethodontid Salamanders: 121–147, discussed allozymic variation within this nominal species. Camp and Tilley, 2005, in Lannoo (ed.), Amph. Declines: 710–711, provided an account containing a detailed summary of the literature and range. Raffaëlli, 2013, Urodeles du Monde, 2nd ed.: 420–421, provided a brief account, photograph, and range map. Altig and McDiarmid, 2015, Handb. Larval Amph. US and Canada: 105–106, provided an account of larval morphology. See Beamer and Lamb, 2020, Zootaxa, 4734: 1–61, for phylogenetic relationships, excluding it from the Desmognathus ochrophaeus group on the basis of phylogenetic distance. Pyron, O'Connell, Lemmon, Lemmon, and Beamer, 2022, Ecol. Evol., 12 (2: e8574): 1–38, provided molecular evidence that Desmognathus imitator is genealogically and geographically cohesive. Raffaëlli, 2022, Salamanders & Newts of the World: 975–976, provided an account summarizing systematics, morphology, life history, population status, and distribution (including a polygon map). Tighe, 2022, Smithson. Contrib. Zool., 654: 28, noted the current location of paratypes of Desmognathus fuscus imitator and (p. 27) Desmognathus areatagulus.  

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