Ambystoma gracile 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Ambystomatidae

Scientific Name: Ambystoma gracile (Baird, 1857)
Common Name(s):
English Northwestern Salamander
Siredon gracilis Baird, 1857
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: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-08-25
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Stuart, S.N.
Contributor(s): Hammerson, G.A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Green, C., Sharp, D. & Garcia Moreno, J.

Listed as Least Concern in view of the large extent of occurrence, large number of sub-populations and locations, and large population size.

Previously published Red List assessments:

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. Elevational range extends from sea level to about 3,110 meters (Stebbins 2003).
Countries occurrence:
Canada (British Columbia); United States (California, Oregon, Washington)
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):3110
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.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

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. 0.5-1.0 m below water surface) (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There are no records of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Localized threats include urbanization and other activities that remove 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). The spread of invasive bullfrogs and predatory fishes introduced to lakes used by A. gracile for sport fishing are more recent threats.

Conservation Actions [top]

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

Research Needed
Research is needed into both population size and trends.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability:Marginal season:resident 
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability:Marginal season:resident 
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.2. Commercial & industrial areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing    

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Lithobates catesbeianus ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    

9. Pollution -> 9.5. Air-borne pollutants -> 9.5.3. Ozone
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.5. Air-borne pollutants -> 9.5.4. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

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. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

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.

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Third 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: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2015. Ambystoma gracile. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T59057A56458627. . Downloaded on 25 April 2018.
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