Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Ambystomatidae

Scientific Name: Ambystoma maculatum
Species Authority: (Shaw, 1802)
Common Name(s):
English Spotted Salamander
Salamandra punctata Lacépède, 1788
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2014. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6 (27 January 2014). New York, USA. Available at: (Accessed: 27 January 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Geoffrey Hammerson
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species can be found throughout most of the eastern USA and adjacent southern Canada; west to eastern Iowa and eastern Texas (Conant and Collins 1991).
Countries occurrence:
Canada; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Total adult population size is unknown but surely is greater than 100,000 and might exceed 1,000,000. Overall, its populations are stable, though there are some local declines due to habitat loss.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species can be found in hardwood and mixed forests, vicinity of swamps and vernal pools; usually underground or under soil surface objects except during breeding period. In New York, distribution apparently is influenced by soil pH (Wyman 1988). Eggs usually are attached to submerged stems or other objects in vernal pools and semi permanent or permanent ponds in or adjacent to forest. In many areas, the species breeds mainly in ponds inaccessible to predatory fishes; however on the Atlantic Coastal Plain of the southeastern USA, spotted salamanders breed in sloughs or backwater lowland areas along streams that frequently contain or are easily colonized by predatory fishes that opportunistically feed on amphibian larvae (Semlitsch 1988). Eggs may be laid in ponds when they are ice-covered if salamanders already are present in the pond (States et al. 1988). Egg masses often exhibit an aggregated dispersion pattern.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats to local populations include intensive timber harvesting practices that reduce canopy closure, understorey vegetation, uncompacted forest litter, or coarse woody debris (moderately to well-decayed) in areas surrounding breeding sites (deMaynadier and Hunter 1999). Negative impacts of intensive timber harvesting extend at least 25-35m into uncut forest (deMaynadier and Hunter 1998). Many populations are becoming increasing isolated as deforestation and loss of vernal pools reduce gene flow among demes (Petranka 1998). This might result in inbreeding depression and reduce the probability of re-establishment of extirpated populations. Local populations might be heavily impacted by excessive mortality of adults caused by vehicles on roads near breeding sites. Roads negatively impact salamander abundance in roadside habitat and might serve as partial barriers to movement (deMaynadier and Hunter 2000). Embryo mortality generally decreases as pH deceases below 6.0, though in some areas successful reproduction has occurred at a relatively low pH (Cook 1983, Blem and Blem 1989). In central Pennsylvania, low pH was associated with deleterious sub lethal effects on larvae (Sadinski and Dunson 1992). High concentrations of various chemical elements, unfavourable temperatures, or low oxygen content might result in reproductive failure; see Blem and Blem (1991) and Albers and Prouty (1987). De-icing salts that contaminate roadside vernal pools result in reduced embryonic survival (Turtle 2000).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Needed conservation measures include protection of vernal pools and adjacent wooded areas up to at least 200-250m asl from the pools. Also, regulatory agencies should attempt to minimize forest fragmentation. The species could benefit from regulations that minimize acid deposition.

Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson. 2004. Ambystoma maculatum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T59064A11865322. . Downloaded on 06 October 2015.
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