Ensatina eschscholtzii 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae

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 Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2015. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. New York, USA. Available at:
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: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-08-25
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Stuart, S.N.
Contributor(s): García Aguayo, A., Frost, D., Wake, D., Parra-Olea, G., Hammerson, G.A. & Santos-Barrera, G.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Rivera Téllez, E., Hobin, L. & Ramírez, R.
Listed as Least Concern in view of the large extent of occurrence, large number of sub-populations and localities, and presumed large population size.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)

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 and Sierra Juárez (Mahrdt et al. 1998, Stebbins 2003, D. Frost pers. comm 2014, A. Peralta pers. comm. 2014); 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 subspecies. Elevational range extends from sea level to about 3,350 m asl (Stebbins 2003). See Moritz et al. (1992) for a general but up-to-date distribution map.
Countries occurrence:
Canada (British Columbia); Mexico (Baja California); United States (California, Oregon, Washington)
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2350
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.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In the north, this species can be found in Douglas-fir/maple forests and forest clearings. In coastal areas, it inhabits redwood forest, chaparral, oak woodland, canyons. In the Sierra Nevada, habitats include pine-oak-incense cedar forests. In dry or cold weather these salamanders stay in caves, underground, or in or under rotting logs. Eggs are laid underground, or under the bark of or within rotting logs (Stebbins 2003), where they develop directly without a larval stage. The subspecies E. e. klauberi lives in mixed conifer forest and lays its eggs on the ground.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is sold online in the USA. The  species' price is about $30 USD. This is not a significant threat.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In moist climates, species of this genus tolerate intensive forestry practices fairly well, but in drier climates recently logged areas have lower population densities than old growth forests, presumably reflecting moisture differences (Petranka 1998).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions
It occurs in many protected areas, which are thought to provide protection for 31-40% of the population. The subspecies E. e. klauberi occurs in the Sierra San Pedro Martir National Park in Mexico. This species is protected by Mexican law under the "Special Protection" category (Pr).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
7. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) -> 7.1. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) - Caves
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):31-40
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Unknown
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Unknown
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Unknown
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

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

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

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.

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Third 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: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2015. Ensatina eschscholtzii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T59260A53979540. . Downloaded on 24 November 2015.
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