Desmognathus kanawha Pyron and Beamer, 2022

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

Desmognathus kanawha Pyron and Beamer, 2022, Bionomina, 27: 27. Holotype: AMNH A- 93873, by original designation. Type locality: "Type locality. Hunters Branch, Mountain Lake Biological Station (University of Virginia; V[irgini]A", USA. Zoobank publication registration: 6E2979FB-920E-44D1-AAF9-0E2E2FD68E75 

Desmognathus (Leurognathus) kanawha — Raffaëlli, 2022, Salamanders & Newts of the World: 1009).

English Names

Kanawha Blackbellied Salamander (Pyron and Beamer, 2022, Bionomina, 27: 31).

New River Black-bellied Salamander (Pyron and Beamer, 2022, Bionomina, 27: 31).

Northern Black-bellied Salamander (Raffaëlli, 2022, Salamanders & Newts of the World: 1009).


Kanawha River drainage of Virginia and West Virginia, with populations in the drainages of the Upper Pee Dee of North Carolina and Virginia, the Upper Tennessee of southwestern Virginia and potentially adjacent northeastern Tennessee, the Roanoke of north-central North Carolina and south-central Virginia, and the Lower Chesapeake of west-central Virginia, USA. 

Geographic Occurrence

Natural Resident: United States of America, United States of America - North Carolina, United States of America - Virginia, United States of America - West Virginia

Endemic: United States of America


The former Desmognathus quadramaculatus E lineage of Pyron, O'Connell, Lemmon, Lemmon, and Beamer, 2022, Ecol. Evol., 12 (2: e8574): 1–38; diagnosed in the original publication by molecular markers although color pattern, morphology, and distribution. Raffaëlli, 2022, Salamanders & Newts of the World: 1009, provided an account summarizing systematics, morphology, life history, population status, and distribution (including a polygon map). Camp, Felix, and Wooten, 2022, Amphibia-Reptilia, 43: 133–140, reported on morphological homoplasy among semi-aquatic species (Desmognathus welteri, Desmognathus folkertsi, northern "quadramaculatus" (now Desmgnathus kanawha), and southern "quadramaculatus" (now Desmognathus amphileucus).  

Under the pre-2022 taxonomy, one widespread nominal species, Desmognathus quadramaculatus was known to be a complex of species.  Complicating this was the fact that the names Salamandra quadramaculata Holbrook, 1840, as well as Salamandra nigra Green, 1818, are synonyms of Salamandra fusca Green, 1818 (Pyron and Beamer, 2020, Zootaxa, 4838: 226–228). This left a widespread complex of "Black-bellied Salamanders" largely without names (although excepting Desmognathus folkertsi, previously named). Subsequently Pyron and Beamer, 2022, Bionomina, 27: 1–43, remedied this situation with the naming/recognition of Desmognathus amphileucus (former Desmognathus 'quadramaculatus' A), Desmognathus gvnigeusgwotli (former Desmognathus 'quadramaculatus' F), Desmognathus mavrokoilius (former Desmognathus 'quadramaculatus' C, E, and G), and Desmognathus kanawha (former Desmognathus 'quadramaculatus' D). As a result, the literature of former Desmognathus 'quadramaculatus' is only to be used cautiously for any of the daughter species. 

The former comment under Desmognathus 'quadramaculatus' follows: See detailed accounts by Valentine, 1974, Cat. Am. Amph. Rept., 153: 1–4, and Petranka, 1998, Salamand. U.S. Canada: 206–213. Rissler and Taylor, 2003, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 27: 197–211, presented molecular evidence that suggests that this nominal species is a composite of cryptic species, forming a paraphyletic series with respect to Desmognathus marmoratusBeachy and Bruce, 2003, Amphibia-Reptilia, 24: 13-26, reported on a miniturized populations in the Bald Mountains of North Carolina, USA. Watson, Pauley, and Camp, 2005, in Lannoo (ed.), Amph. Declines: 723–726, provided an account containing a detailed summary of the literature and range. Jones, Voss, Ptacek, Weisrock, and Tonkyn, 2006, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 38: 280–287, and Wooten and Rissler, 2011, Acta Herpetol., Firenze, 6: 175–208, suggested that neither Desmognathus marmoratus nor Desmognathus quadramaculatus are monophyletic, instead being species complexes composed of multiple inter-related lineages. See comment under Desmognathus marmoratus for additional relevant literature. Raffaëlli, 2013, Urodeles du Monde, 2nd ed.: 430, provided a brief account, photograph, and range map. Altig and McDiarmid, 2015, Handb. Larval Amph. US and Canada: 106–107, provided an account of larval morphology. Beamer and Lamb, 2020, Zootaxa, 4734: 1–61, in their discussion of Desmognathus mtDNA phylogenetics, confirmed the intercalation of apparent cryptic species under this name with apparent cryptic species of Desmognatus marmoratausPyron, O'Connell, Lemmon, Lemmon, and Beamer, 2020, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 146 (106751): 1–13, suggested on molecular grounds that this nominal species is a complex. Pyron, O'Connell, Lemmon, Lemmon, and Beamer, 2022, Ecol. Evol., 12 (2: e8574): 1–38, provided molecular evidence that nominal Desmognathus quadramaculatus is composed of 4–7 lineages of which one, other than Desmognathus quadramaculatus, already has a name available. 

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