Dicamptodon tenebrosus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Ambystomatidae

Scientific Name: Dicamptodon tenebrosus
Species Authority: (Baird and Girard, 1852)
Common Name(s):
English Coastal Giant Salamander, Pacific Giant Salamander
Amblystoma tenebrosum Baird & Girard, 1852
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2015. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. New York, USA. Available at:

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): Sharp, D.

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

Previously published Red List assessments:
2004 Least Concern (LC)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs in western North America from southern British Columbia (Chilliwack River drainage) south through western Washington and western Oregon to northwestern California (Good 1989, Farr 1989, Petranka 1998, Stebbins 2003, COSEWIC 2014).
Countries occurrence:
Canada (British Columbia); United States (California, Oregon, Washington)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 10,000 and is stable. Larvae are often abundant and are far more common than the adults.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Larvae and paedomorphic adults usually inhabit clear, cool or cold, well-oxygenated streams and often take cover under stones (Parker 1991); aquatic stages also occur in some mountain lakes and ponds. Metamorphosed adults are found in humid forests under rocks and logs, near mountain streams or rocky shores of mountain lakes (Stebbins 1985). Eggs are attached to logs or rocks in creeks (Nussbaum and Clothier 1973, Jones et al. 1990).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

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

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overall, this species is not significantly threatened at present. However, logging and associated water temperature increases and siltation are a potential threat locally. Abundance is much greater in old growth and mature forests than in young forests (see Petranka 1998).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions
This species exists within the boundaries of protected areas, including Department of National Defence lands which are federal lands protected under SARA.

Conservation Needed
Habitat protection is needed in areas where logging is occurring throughout some of its range.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability: Marginal season: resident 
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability: Marginal season: resident 
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

Bibliography [top]

Anderson, J.D. 1968. Dicamptodon , D. ensatus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles: 1-2.

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.

Collins, J.T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles, 3rd edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles: Herpetological Circular: 1-41.

COSEWIC. 2014. COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Coastal Giant Salamander Dicamptodon tenebrosus in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Daugherty, C.H., Allendorf, F.W., Dunlap, W.W. and Knudsen, K.L. 1983. Systematic implications of geographic patterns of genetic variation in the genus Dicamptodon. Copeia: 679-691.

Farr, A.C.M. 1989.. COSEWIC status report on the Pacific Giant Salamander Dicamptodon tenebrosus in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. 30 pp..

Ferguson, H.M. 1998. Demography, dispersal and colonisation of larvae of Pacific giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) at the northern extent of their range. M.Sc. Thesis., University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Ferguson, H.M. 2000. Larval colonisation and recruitment in the Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) in British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Zoology: 1238-1242.

Good, D.A. 1989. Hybridization and cryptic species in Dicamptodon (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae). Evolution: 728-744.

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

Johnston, B. 1998. Terrestrial Pacific giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus): natural history and their response to forest practices. M.Sc. Thesis., University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Jones, L.L.C., Bury, R.B. and Corn, P.S. 1990. Field observation of the development of a clutch of Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) eggs. Northwestern Naturalist: 93-94.

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.

McComb, W.C., McGarigal, K. and Anthony, R.G. 1993. Small mammal and amphibian abundance in streamside and upslope habitats of mature Douglas-fir stands, western Oregon. Northwest Science: 7-15.

Nussbaum, R.A. 1969. Nests and eggs of the Pacific giant salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus (Escholtz). Herpetologica: 257-262.

Nussbaum, R.A. 1976. Geographic variation and systematics of salamanders of the genus Dicamptodon Strauch (Ambystomatidae). University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology, Miscellaneous Publication: 1-94.

Nussbaum, R.A. and Clothier, G.R. 1973. Population structure, growth, and size of larval Dicamptodon ensatus (Erscholtz). Northwest Science: 218-227.

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.

Parker, M.S. 1991. Relationship between cover availability and larval Pacific giant salamander density. Journal of Herpetology: 355-357.

Parker, M.S. 1994. Feeding ecology of stream-dwelling Pacific giant salamander larvae (Dicamptodon tenebrosus). Copeia: 705-718.

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

Species at Risk Branch. 2002. Species at Risk Range Maps. Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada. (, Ottawa.

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.

Welsh, H.H., Jr., Hodgson, G.R. and Lind, A.J. 2005. Ecogeography of the herpetofauna of a northern Californian watershed: linking species patterns to landscape processes. Ecography: 521-536.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2015. Dicamptodon tenebrosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T59081A78906025. . Downloaded on 30 November 2015.
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