Ambystoma gracile


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Ambystoma gracile
Species Authority: (Baird, 1857)
Common Name(s):
English Northwestern Salamander
Siredon gracilis Baird, 1857

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 from the Pacific coast of North America from extreme southeastern Alaska south through western Canada and northwestern U.S. to the Gualala River, California. It occurs from sea level to about 3,110m asl (Stebbins 1985).
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 exceeds 10,000 and possibly exceeds 100,000. Its' populations appear to be stable.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It occurs in open grassland, woodland, and forest near breeding ponds. Non-paedomorphic adults are underground most of the year. During the breeding season, they often are found under rocks and logs. Larvae have been reported to be restricted to shallow areas in lakes with fishes. Adult and larval northwestern salamanders are distasteful to fishes and bullfrogs, allowing coexistence (Leonard et al. 1993). Eggs are laid in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams; usually attached to vegetation in shallows (Blaustein et al. 1995) or deeper water (e.g., 0.5-1.0m below water surface) (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): A major threat is probably the removal of forest surrounding ponds and small lakes. Ambient ultraviolet radiation causes increased mortality of eggs (compared to UV-B-shielded eggs) (Blaustein et al. 1995), but natural oviposition sites often might not be subject to damaging levels of UV. Experimental data indicate that larvae are negatively impacted by the presence of trout (Tyler et al. 1998), yet salamanders and trout coexist in some areas (Leonard et al. 1993).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Needed conservation measures include maintaining forested conditions in areas within at least 200-250m of breeding sites. Also, regulatory agencies should attempt to minimize forest fragmentation.

Bibliography [top]

Behler, J.L. and King, F.W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York.

Blackburn, L., Nanjappa, P. and Lannoo, M.J. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA.

Blaustein, A.B., Edmond, B., Kiesecker, J.M., Beatty, J.J. and Hokit, D.G. 1995. Ambient ultraviolet radiation causes mortality in salmander eggs. Ecological Applications: 740-743.

Corkran, C.C. and Thoms, C. 1996. Amphibians of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Alberta.

Frost, D.R. 1985. Amphibian Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Allen Press and the Association of Systematic Collections, Lawrence, Kansas.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 23 November 2004.

Jones, T.R., Kluge, A.G. and Wolf, A.J. 1993. When theories and methodologies clash: a phylogenetic reanalysis of the North American ambystomatid salamanders (Caudata: Ambystomatidae). Systematic Biology: 92-102.

Kraus, F. 1988. An empirical evaluation of the use of the ontogeny polarization criterion in phylogenetic inference. Systematic Zoology: 106-141.

Leonard, W.P., Brown, H.A., Jones, L.L.C., McAllister, K.R. and Storm, R.M. 1993. Amphibians of Washington and Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington.

Marco, A. 2001. Effects of prolonged terrestrial stranding of aquatic Ambystoma gracile egg masses on embryonic development. Journal of Herpetology: 510-513.

Nussbaum, R.A., Brodie, Jr., E.D. and Storm, R.M. 1983. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. University Press of Idaho, Moscow, ID, USA.

Petranka, J.W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Shaffer, H.B., Clark, J.M. and Kraus, F. 1991. When molecules and morphology clash: a phylogenetic analysis of the North American ambystomatid salamanders (Caudata: Ambystomatidae). Systematic Zoology: 284-303.

Snyder, R.C. 1956. Comparative features of the life histories of Ambystoma gracile (Baird) from populations at low and high altitudes. Copeia: 41-50.

Snyder, R.C. 1963. Ambystoma gracile. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles: 1-2.

Stebbins, R.C. 1985. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Taylor, J. 1984. Comparative evidence for competition between the salamanders Ambystoma gracile and Taricha granulosa. Copeia: 672-683.

Titus, T.A. 1990. Genetic variation in two subspecies of Ambystoma gracile (Caudata: Ambystomatidae). Journal of Herpetology: 107-111.

Titus, T.A. and Gaines, M.S. 1991. Genetic variation in coastal and montane populations of Ambystoma gracile (Caudata: Ambystomatidae). Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History of the University of Kansas: 1-2.

Tyler, T., Liss, W.J., Ganio, L.M., Larson, G.L., Hoffman, R., Deimling, E., and Lomnicky, G. 1998. Interaction between introduced trout and larval salamanders (Ambystoma macrodactylum) in high-elevation lakes. Conservation Biology: 94-105.

Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson 2004. Ambystoma gracile. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 30 August 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided