Rhyacotriton olympicus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Caudata Rhyacotritonidae

Scientific Name: Rhyacotriton olympicus (Gaige, 1917)
Common Name(s):
English Olympic Torrent Salamander
Ranodon olympicus Gaige, 1917
Taxonomic Notes: Rhyacotriton variegatus, R. kezeri and R. cascadae formerly were included in this species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(iii) 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 Vulnerable because its Extent of Occurrence is less than 20,000 km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its forest habitat in Washington State.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species can be found in the Olympic Peninsula in Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, and Mason counties, Washington, United States (Good and Wake 1992).
Countries occurrence:
United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Recent surveys of Olympic National Park (Bury and Adams 2000) showed the species to be widespread, occurring in 41% of 168 streams and 47% of 235 seeps surveyed. They were more abundant in streams with northerly aspects and steep gradients.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It can be found in coastal coniferous forests in small, cold mountain streams and spring seepages. Larvae often occur under stones in shaded streams. Adults also inhabit these streams or streamsides in saturated moss-covered talus, or under rocks in splash zone. Primarily in older forest sites, required microclimatic and microhabitat conditions generally exist only in older forests (Welsh 1990). Two Rhyacotriton were found in deep, narrow rock crevices; eggs were lying in cold, slow-moving water (Nussbaum, Brodie and Storm 1983).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is sensitive to increased temperature and sedimentation. Timber harvest negatively affects Rhyacotriton salamanders more than any other sympatric amphibians (Bury and Corn 1988b; Corn and Bury 1989); however, lower-gradient, higher-order streams, which might intrinsically provide poor habitat for this species are more often disturbed by timber harvest. Hence, the effects of timber harvest per se on torrent salamanders has probably been confounded with natural variation in habitat quality (Hayes and Jones 2005). Some populations are isolated by intervening areas of unsuitable habitat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: They are protected in Olympic National Park. Conservation needs include retention of old-growth buffers around headwater streams (Petranka 1998). Population trends data are needed.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.9. Wetlands (inland) - Freshwater Springs and Oases
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.3. Habitat & natural process restoration

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Anderson, J.D. 1968. Rhyacotriton , R. olympicus. 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.

Bury, R.B. and Adams, M. J. 2000. Inventory and monitoring of amphibians in North Cascades and Olympic National Parks, 1995–1998. U.S.G.S. Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center in cooperation with Olympic National Park, Corvallis, Oregon.

Bury, R.B. and Corn, P.S. 1988. Responses of aquatic and streamside amphibians to timber harvest: a review. In: Raedaeke, K. (ed.), Streamside management: riparian wildlife and forestry interactions, pp. 165-181. Univ. Washington.

Corn, P.S. and Bury, R.B. 1989. Logging in western Oregon: responses of headwater habitats and stream amphibians. Forest Ecology and Management: 39-57.

Good, D.A. and Wake, D.B. 1992. Geographic variation and speciation in the torrent salamanders of the genus Rhyacotriton (Caudata: Rhyacotritonidae). University of California Publications in Zoology: 1-91.

Good, D.A., Wurst, G.Z. and Wake, D.B. 1987. Patterns of geographic variation in allozymes of the Olympic salamander, Rhyacotriton olympicus (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae). Fieldiana Zoology: 15 pp.

Hayes, M.P. and Jones, L.L.C. 2005. Rhyacotriton olympicus (Gaige, 1917). In: Lannoo, M.J. (ed.), Amphibian Declines: the Conservation Status of United States Species, pp. 880-882. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2004).

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.

Nussbaum, R.A. and Tait, C.K. 1977. Aspects of the life history and ecology of the Olympic salamander, Rhyacoitriton olympicus (Gaige). American Midland Naturalist: 176-199.

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.

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

Thomas, J.W., Ward, J., Raphael, M.G., Anthony, R.G., Forsman, E.D., Gunderson, A.G., Holthausen, R.S., Marcot, B.G., Reeves, G.H., Sedell, J.R. and Solis, D.M. 1993. Viability assessments and management considerations for species associated with late-successional and old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. The report of the Scientific Analysis Team. USDA Forest Service, Spotted Owl EIS Team, pp. 530 pp. Portland, Oregon.

Welsh, H.H., Jr. 1990. Relictual amphibians and old-growth forests. Conservation Biology: 309-319.

Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson. 2004. Rhyacotriton olympicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T59437A11941548. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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