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Rhyacotriton variegatus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AMPHIBIA CAUDATA RHYACOTRITONIDAE

Scientific Name: Rhyacotriton variegatus
Species Authority: (Stebbins and Lowe, 1951)
Common Name(s):
English Southern Torrent Salamander
Synonym(s):
Ranodon olympicus Stebbins and Lowe, 1951

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Geoffrey Hammerson
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Justification:
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 in the western USA. It occurs from southern Mendocino County, California, north through the Coast Ranges to the Little Nestucca River and the Grande Ronde Valley in Polk, Tillamook, and Yamhill counties, Oregon, where the range abuts that of R. kezeri; an apparently isolated population exists on the west slope of the Cascade Mountains in the vicinity of Steamboat, Douglas County, Oregon (south of the range of Rhyacotriton cascadae) (Good and Wake 1992). It has patchy distribution in headwaters and low order tributaries (Welsh and Lind 1996).
Countries:
Native:
United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There is little historical information. It is widespread in many headwater streams in north-coastal California (Diller and Wallace 1996). Jennings and Hayes (1994) mapped 65 verified records in California. Forty documented sites in Oregon (E. Gaines pers. comm., 1997). It is still present throughout historical range, but localized extirpations and reductions in abundance are evident, due to past forest management activities (USFWS, Federal Register, 29 June 1995; USFWS 2000). Habitat declining, recent estimates place the amount of remaining coastal old-growth redwood forest in California, which comprises a significant portion of California coastal old-growth forest, at 12% (see Jennings and Hayes 1994). But the trend of habitat loss is lessening across much of the range with a reduction in clear cutting and with some increased awareness and protection of headwater habitats (USFWS 2000). In Oregon, believed declining (E. Gaines pers. comm., 1997); state species of special concern.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It can be found in coastal coniferous forests in small, cold (usually 5.8-12.0 C), clear, high-gradient mountain streams and spring seepages, especially in gravel-dominated riffles with low sedimentation. Larvae often occur under stones in shaded streams. Adults also inhabit these streams or streamsides in saturated moss-covered talus, or under rocks in splash zone. Typically occurs in older forest sites with large conifers, abundant moss, and > 80% canopy closure; required microclimatic and microhabitat conditions generally exist only in older forests (Welsh 1990, Welsh and Lind 1996). Young, managed forests may be occupied as long as the required microhabitats are present (Diller and Wallace 1996). Two Rhyacotriton nests were found in deep, narrow rock crevices; eggs were lying in cold, slow-moving water (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is sensitive to increased temperature and sedimentation. Timber harvest negatively affects Rhyacotriton salamanders more than any other amphibian in the Oregon Coast Range (Bury and Corn 1988, Corn and Bury 1989). Logging activities may destroy habitat and increase siltation; the Oregon range coincides with areas of intense logging practices (E. Gaines pers. comm., 1997). However, the species can persist in habitats after habitat alteration, including logging (see USFWS 2000). Some populations are isolated by intervening areas of unsuitable habitat; these are vulnerable to extirpation through natural processes exacerbated by timber harvest (especially old growth stands on north-facing slopes). Much of the range has undergone large-scale timber harvesting or is harvestable, and there is concern that adequate protection of habitat is lacking (Federal Register, 29 June 1995). However, current timber harvest regulations provide more protection for habitat than did those of the unregulated past (Diller and Wallace 1996). USFWS (2000) concluded that current regulatory practices do not constitute a threat. USFWS (2000) determined that the species currently is not threatened by logging or other habitat alterations but noted that the most vulnerable populations are those at the southern and eastern edges of the range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation needs include retention of old-growth buffers around headwater streams (Petranka 1998). See USFWS (2000) for information on federal and state regulations that provide protection for torrent salamander habitat.

Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson 2004. Rhyacotriton variegatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 October 2014.
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