Ensatina eschscholtzii


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Ensatina eschscholtzii
Species Authority: Gray, 1850
Common Name(s):
English Ensatina, Eschscholtz Salamander, Common Ensatina, Eschscholtz's Salamander, Redwood Salamander
Ensatina croceater (Cope, 1868)
Ensatina klauberi Dunn, 1929
Ensatina platensis (Jiménez de la Espada, 1875)
Ensatina sierrae Storer, 1929
Heredia oregonensis Girard, 1856
Plethodon croceater Cope, 1868
Plethodon eschscholtzii (Gray, 1850)
Plethodon oregonensis (Girard, 1856)
Plethodon platensis (Jiménez de la Espada, 1875)
Urotropis platensis Jiménez de la Espada, 1875
Taxonomic Notes: This polytypic, ring species includes taxa that form a semicomplex of more than one species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Hammerson, G.A., Parra-Olea, G. & Wake, D.
Reviewer(s): Stuart, S.N., Chanson, J.S., Cox, N.A. & Young, B.E.
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 ranges from southwestern British Columbia in Canada, south through the Coastal Ranges of the USA to extreme northwestern Baja California and the Sierra San Pedro Martir, Baja California in Mexico (Mahrdt et al. 1998); and along the western slopes of Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada in California in the USA. It is absent from Sacramento-San Joaquin valley, California. It occurs as a large number of separate subspecies. The subspecies E. e. klauberi occurs in the Sierra San Pedro Martir, Baja California, Mexico, above 2,000m asl. It occurs from sea level up to elevations of about 2,350m asl (Stebbins 1985). See Moritz et al. (1992) for a general but up-to-date distribution map.
Canada; Mexico; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In the USA and Canada the total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000. Its population appears to be stable. It is a rare species in Mexico, there have been only a few observations, but they are still found.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species can be found in the north: Douglas-fir/maple forests, forest clearings. In coastal areas, redwood forest, chaparral, oak woodland, canyons. Sierra Nevada: pine-oak-incense cedar forests. In dry or cold weather: in caves, underground, in rotting logs. Eggs are laid underground, or under the bark of or within rotting logs (Stebbins 1985), where they develop directly without a larval stage. E. e. klauberi lives in mixed conifer forest and lays its eggs on the ground.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In moist climates, ensatinas tolerate intensive forestry practices fairly well, but in drier climates recently logged areas have lower population densities than do old growth forests, presumably reflecting moisture differences (see Petranka 1998). In Mexico the nominate subspecies is probably heavily impacted by the loss of habitat as a result of the development and expansion of vineyards.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: None needed. It occurs in many protected areas. E. e. klauberi occurs in the Sierra San Pedro Martir National Park. This species is protected by Mexican law under the "Special Protection" category (Pr).

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.

Darda, D.M., Baugh, J.W. and Garvey-Darda, P.A. 2001. Geographic distribution. Ensatina eschscholzii. Herpetological Review: 53.

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

Frost, D.R., and Hillis, D.M. 1990. Species in concept and practice: herpetological applications. Herpetologica: 87-104.

Highton, R. 1998. Is Ensatina eschscholtzii a ring-species? Herpetologica: 254-278.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Mahrdt, C.R., McPeak, R.H. and Grismer, L.L. 1998. The discovery of Ensatina eschscholtzii klauberi (Plethodontidae) in the Sierra San Pedro Martir, Baja California, Mexico. Herpetological Natural History: 73-76.

Moritz, C., Schneider, C.J. and Wake, D.B. 1992. Evolutionary relationships within the Ensatina eschscholtzii complex confirm the ring species interpretation. Systematic Biology: 273-291.

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.

Staub, N.L., Brown, C.W. and Wake, D.B. 1995. Patterns of growth and movements in a population of Ensatina eschscholtzii platensis (Caudata: Plethodontidae) in the Sierra Nevada, California. Journal of Herpetology: 593-599.

Stebbins, R.C. 1954. Amphibians and Reptiles of Western North America. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York.

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

Wake, D.B. 1997. Incipient species formation in salamanders of the Ensatina complex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA: 7761-7767.

Wake, D.B. and Jockusch, E.L. 2000. Detecting species borders using diverse data sets: examples from plethodontid salamanders in California. In: Bruce, R.C., Jaeger, R.G. and Houck, L.D. (eds), The Biology of Plethodontid Salamanders, pp. 95-119. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York.

Wake, D.B. and Schneider, C.J. 1998. Taxonomy of the plethodontid salamander genus Ensatina. Herpetologica: 279-298.

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: Hammerson, G.A., Parra-Olea, G. & Wake, D. 2008. Ensatina eschscholtzii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 03 September 2015.
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