Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

A large, stout-bodied, terrestrial salamander. The dorsum is dark brown overlain with fine brown spotting or marbling. In some populations there is no marbling mid-dorsally. Adults reach sizes of 17 - 25 cm total length. The posterior half of the tail is laterally compressed. Some populations have both metamorphosed and gilled adults. Gilled adults may become mature at less than 11 cm total length (Nussbaum 1976). Larvae are the stream type with short, bushy gills and a low tail fin which extends forward to the hindlimb insertion. Larval D. aterrimus are darker than larval D. tenebrosus, with little mottling. A yellow stripe behind the eyes may be indistinct (Nussbaum 1976; Petranka 1998).

Until recently only two species were recognized in the genus Dicamptodon.Recent genetic research (Dougherty et al. 1983; Good 1989) has supported the division of D. ensatus into three species: D. aterrimus, D. ensatus, and D. tenebrosus. The species are also morphologically distinct (Nussbaum 1976). The genus Dicamptodon was historically included as a subfamily (Dicamptodontinae) in the family Ambystomatidae, and was placed in a separate family, Dicamptodontidae, based on features of the spinal nerves (Edwards 1976).

  • Bury, R. B., Corn, F. S., Aubry, K. B., Gilbert, F. F., and Jones, L. L. C. (1991). ''Aquatic amphibian communities in Oregon and Washington.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, eds., USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285, 353-362.
  • 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, 1983(3), 679-691.
  • Edwards, J.L. (1976). "Spinal nerves and their bearing on salamander phylogeny." Journal of Morphology, 148, 305-328.
  • Good, D.A. (1989). "Hybridization and cryptic species in Dicamptodon (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae)." Evolution, 43, 728-744.
  • Hammerson, G. 2004. Dicamptodon aterrimus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. . Downloaded on 13 January 2011.
  • Metter, D. (1963). "Stomach contents of Idaho larval Dicamptodon." Copeia, 1963, 435-436.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1969). ''Nests and eggs of the Pacific Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus (Eschscholtz).'' Herpetologica, 25, 257-262.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1976). "Geographic variation and systematics of salamanders of the genus Dicamptodon Strauch (Ambystomatidae)." Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 149, 1-94.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Roni, P. (2002). ''Habitat use by fishes and Pacific Giant Salamanders in small western Oregon and Washington streams.'' Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 131, 743-761.
  • Sepulveda, A. J., and Lowe, W. H. (2009). ''Local and landscape-scale influences on the occurrence and density of Dicamptodon aterrimus, the Idaho Giant Salamander.'' Journal of Herpetology, 43, 469-484.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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Description

A large, stout-bodied, terrestrial salamander. The dorsum is dark brown overlain with fine brown spotting or marbling. In some populations there is no marbling mid-dorsally. Adults reach sizes of 17 - 25 cm total length. The posterior half of the tail is laterally compressed. Some populations have both metamorphosed and gilled adults. Gilled adults may become mature at less than 11 cm total length (Nussbaum 1976). Larvae are the stream type with short, bushy gills and a low tail fin which extends forward to the hindlimb insertion. Larval D. aterrimus are darker than larval D. tenebrosus, with little mottling. A yellow stripe behind the eyes may be indistinct (Nussbaum 1976; Petranka 1998).

Until recently only two species were recognized in the genus Dicamptodon.Recent genetic research (Dougherty et al. 1983; Good 1989) has supported the division of D. ensatus into three species: D. aterrimus, D. ensatus, and D. tenebrosus. The species are also morphologically distinct (Nussbaum 1976). The genus Dicamptodon was historically included as a subfamily (Dicamptodontinae) in the family Ambystomatidae, and was placed in a separate family, Dicamptodontidae, based on features of the spinal nerves (Edwards 1976).

  • Bury, R. B., Corn, F. S., Aubry, K. B., Gilbert, F. F., and Jones, L. L. C. (1991). ''Aquatic amphibian communities in Oregon and Washington.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, eds., USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285, 353-362.
  • 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, 1983(3), 679-691.
  • Edwards, J.L. (1976). "Spinal nerves and their bearing on salamander phylogeny." Journal of Morphology, 148, 305-328.
  • Good, D.A. (1989). "Hybridization and cryptic species in Dicamptodon (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae)." Evolution, 43, 728-744.
  • Hammerson, G. 2004. Dicamptodon aterrimus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. . Downloaded on 13 January 2011.
  • Metter, D. (1963). "Stomach contents of Idaho larval Dicamptodon." Copeia, 1963, 435-436.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1969). ''Nests and eggs of the Pacific Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus (Eschscholtz).'' Herpetologica, 25, 257-262.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1976). "Geographic variation and systematics of salamanders of the genus Dicamptodon Strauch (Ambystomatidae)." Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 149, 1-94.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Roni, P. (2002). ''Habitat use by fishes and Pacific Giant Salamanders in small western Oregon and Washington streams.'' Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 131, 743-761.
  • Sepulveda, A. J., and Lowe, W. H. (2009). ''Local and landscape-scale influences on the occurrence and density of Dicamptodon aterrimus, the Idaho Giant Salamander.'' Journal of Herpetology, 43, 469-484.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species can be found in the USA in northern Idaho and a small adjoining portion of extreme western Montana (Nussbaum et al. 1983, Petranka 1998); there are disjunctive subpopulations in the Salmon River drainage near Warm Lake, Idaho (Petranka 1998). It is known from two locations in western Montana (Reichel and Flath 1995). It occurs in over 250 miles of stream (C. Peterson pers. comm. 1997).
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Distribution and Habitat

Dicamptodon aterrimus is found in the Rocky Mountains of north central Idaho and in western Montana (Mineral County), where it has recently been found to occur more widely than previously thought (E. A. Dallalio, pers. comm.). Larvae generally inhabit small streams (Petranka 1998), but have also been found in mountain lakes and ponds (Stebbins 1985). Adults are found under rocks and logs near streams in moist coniferous forests (Petranka 1998; Nussbaum et al. 1983); although this species has been found in larger streams and rivers, it is more common in first and second-order headwater streams (Sepulveda and Lowe 2009). D. aterrimus terrestrial adults may also be found under cover objects on rocky shores of montane lakes (Stebbins 1985). Paedomorphic (aquatic) adults are found in cold, shaded headwater streams that have unembedded cobble substrate (Bury et al. 1991; Roni 2002).

  • Bury, R. B., Corn, F. S., Aubry, K. B., Gilbert, F. F., and Jones, L. L. C. (1991). ''Aquatic amphibian communities in Oregon and Washington.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, eds., USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285, 353-362.
  • 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, 1983(3), 679-691.
  • Edwards, J.L. (1976). "Spinal nerves and their bearing on salamander phylogeny." Journal of Morphology, 148, 305-328.
  • Good, D.A. (1989). "Hybridization and cryptic species in Dicamptodon (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae)." Evolution, 43, 728-744.
  • Hammerson, G. 2004. Dicamptodon aterrimus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. . Downloaded on 13 January 2011.
  • Metter, D. (1963). "Stomach contents of Idaho larval Dicamptodon." Copeia, 1963, 435-436.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1969). ''Nests and eggs of the Pacific Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus (Eschscholtz).'' Herpetologica, 25, 257-262.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1976). "Geographic variation and systematics of salamanders of the genus Dicamptodon Strauch (Ambystomatidae)." Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 149, 1-94.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Roni, P. (2002). ''Habitat use by fishes and Pacific Giant Salamanders in small western Oregon and Washington streams.'' Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 131, 743-761.
  • Sepulveda, A. J., and Lowe, W. H. (2009). ''Local and landscape-scale influences on the occurrence and density of Dicamptodon aterrimus, the Idaho Giant Salamander.'' Journal of Herpetology, 43, 469-484.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) Range includes northern Idaho and a small adjoining portion of extreme western Montana, from the South Fork of the Salmon River to the St. Regis drainage in Montana (Nussbaum et al. 1983, Petranka 1998, Werner et al. 2004, Mullen et al. 2010). Elevational range extends to at least 2,135 meters.

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Distribution and Habitat

Dicamptodon aterrimus is found in the Rocky Mountains of north central Idaho and in western Montana (Mineral County), where it has recently been found to occur more widely than previously thought (E. A. Dallalio, pers. comm.). Larvae generally inhabit small streams (Petranka 1998), but have also been found in mountain lakes and ponds (Stebbins 1985). Adults are found under rocks and logs near streams in moist coniferous forests (Petranka 1998; Nussbaum et al. 1983); although this species has been found in larger streams and rivers, it is more common in first and second-order headwater streams (Sepulveda and Lowe 2009). D. aterrimus terrestrial adults may also be found under cover objects on rocky shores of montane lakes (Stebbins 1985). Paedomorphic (aquatic) adults are found in cold, shaded headwater streams that have unembedded cobble substrate (Bury et al. 1991; Roni 2002).

  • Bury, R. B., Corn, F. S., Aubry, K. B., Gilbert, F. F., and Jones, L. L. C. (1991). ''Aquatic amphibian communities in Oregon and Washington.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, eds., USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285, 353-362.
  • 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, 1983(3), 679-691.
  • Edwards, J.L. (1976). "Spinal nerves and their bearing on salamander phylogeny." Journal of Morphology, 148, 305-328.
  • Good, D.A. (1989). "Hybridization and cryptic species in Dicamptodon (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae)." Evolution, 43, 728-744.
  • Hammerson, G. 2004. Dicamptodon aterrimus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. . Downloaded on 13 January 2011.
  • Metter, D. (1963). "Stomach contents of Idaho larval Dicamptodon." Copeia, 1963, 435-436.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1969). ''Nests and eggs of the Pacific Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus (Eschscholtz).'' Herpetologica, 25, 257-262.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1976). "Geographic variation and systematics of salamanders of the genus Dicamptodon Strauch (Ambystomatidae)." Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 149, 1-94.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Roni, P. (2002). ''Habitat use by fishes and Pacific Giant Salamanders in small western Oregon and Washington streams.'' Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 131, 743-761.
  • Sepulveda, A. J., and Lowe, W. H. (2009). ''Local and landscape-scale influences on the occurrence and density of Dicamptodon aterrimus, the Idaho Giant Salamander.'' Journal of Herpetology, 43, 469-484.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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Physical Description

Size

Length: 30 cm

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Type Information

Holotype for Dicamptodon aterrimus
Catalog Number: USNM 5242
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1860
Locality: North Rocky Mountains, crossing of Bitter Root River, County Undetermined, Montana, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Cope, E. D. 1868. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 19: 201.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Larvae usually inhabit clear, cold streams, but are also found in mountain lakes and ponds. Adults are found in humid forests under rocks and logs etc., near mountain streams or rocky shores of mountain lakes (Stebbins 1985). Eggs usually are laid in headwaters of mountain streams. Breeding typically occurs in water-filled nest chambers under logs and rocks or in rock crevices.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Comments: Metamorphosed adults inhabit humid forests and may be found under rocks, logs, or bark near mountain streams or rocky shores of mountain lakes (Stebbins 2003). Egg deposition sites are in water-filled chambers or crevices under or among logs or rocks. Larvae usually inhabit clear, cold mountain streams, sometimes mountain lakes and ponds.

Sepulveda and Lowe (2009) found that probability of D. aterrimus occurrence was highest in roadless drainages and lowest in spatially isolated streams and in drainages with high old-growth forest density. They determined that D. aterrimus density was greatest in streams with a high proportion of embedded substrate and fine sediment, which possibly reflected adaptation to a high frequency of natural disturbances, such as landslides, in the study area. In general, D. aterrimus is tolerant of a wide range of local conditions within streams (Sepulveda and Lowe 2009).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Adults migrate locally between aquatic breeding sites and terrestrial nonbreeding habitats.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Larvae feed on a wide variety of aquatic invertebrates as well as some small vertebrates (e.g., fishes, tadpoles, other larval salamanders). Adults eat terrestrial invertebrates, also small snakes, shrews, mice, salamanders, etc.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300

Comments: The number of distinct occurrences has not been determined using standardized criteria, but this species is represented by a large number of occurrences and locations (as defined by IUCN). Species is extant in probably more than 100 locations; historical distribution is poorly documented (C. Peterson, pers. comm., 1997). Sepulveda and Lowe (2009) found this species in 18 of 40 sampled headwater streams in the Lochsa River basin, Idaho.

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Global Abundance

10,000 - 100,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but may exceed 10,000. This species is still locally abundant in forested headwater streams (Lohman and Bury 2005). Adults are cryptic and relatively difficult to detect, whereas larvae are easy to find (Sepulveda and Lowe 2009).

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General Ecology

Individuals attain sexual maturity in both larval and terrestrial forms at sizes exceeding 115 mm SVL (Nussbaum et al. 1983).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Breeding occurs in both spring and fall. Adult females deposit a clutch of about 135-200 eggs in spring. Females attend eggs until hatching. Larvae metamorphose usually in 18-24 months but sometimes attain sexual maturity in the larval form (Nussbaum et al. 1983, Stebbins 2003).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Dicamptodon aterrimus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.

Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

ACTCGATGAATATTTTCTACTAACCATAAAGATATTGGCACCCTTTACTTAGTGTTCGGGGCCTGGGCTGGAATAGTAGGCACCGCATTG---AGCCTTCTTATTCGTGCTGAATTAAGTCAACCCGGCACATTATTAGGAGAC---GACCAGATTTATAATGTAATTGTTACTGCCCACGCTTTCGTGATAATTTTTTTTATAGTAATACCAGTAATAATTGGGGGTTTTGGTAATTGACTTGTCCCTTTAATA---ATTGGTGCACCAGATATAGCATTTCCACGAATAAATAATATAAGCTTTTGATTACTTCCCCCATCATTTTTATTATTACTAGCCTCATCTGGTGTAGAATCAGGTGCAGGGACAGGCTGAACAGTTTATCCCCCACTAGCCGGAAATTTAGCACATGCAGGTGCATCAGTTGATCTA---ACAATTTTCTCATTACACCTTGCAGGTGTATCCTCAATTTTAGGTGCTGTTAACTTTATCACTACATCCATTAATATAAAACCCCCATCAATATCCCAATATCAAACTCCCCTTTTTGTTTGATCCGTATTAATTACAGCCATCTTATTATTACTCTCCCTTCCAGTATTAGCAGCC---GGAATTACAATATTATTAACTGACCGAAATTTAAATACAACATTTTTTGACCCGGCAGGCGGTGGGGACCCAGTTTTATATCAACATCTATTTTGATTTTTTGGCCATCCAGAAGTATATATTCTTATTCTCCCAGGGTTCGGAATAATTTCACATATTGTTACTTATTACTCAATAAAAAAA---GAACCATTTGGTTACATAGGAATAGTTTGAGCAATAATATCAATCGGATTATTGGGTTTTATTGTTTGAGCCCATCATATATTTACAGTAGACCTTAACGTTGATACCCGAGCATATTTTACATCTGCAACTATAATTATTGCTATTCCAACAGGGGTAAAAGTATTTAGCTGGTTG---GCAACAATACATGGTG
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dicamptodon aterrimus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group

Reviewer/s
Luedtke, J.

Contributor/s
Hammerson, G.A.

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution and presumed large population.

History
  • 2004
    Least Concern (LC)
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Small range in Idaho and a small area in adjacent Montana; recent trend uncertain but probably relatively stable or slowly declining; negatively affected in some areas by habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation due to logging, road construction, and other factors; climate change is a potential threat.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.

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Population

Population
The total adult population size is unknown but might exceed 10,000. Historical information is poorly documented, but it has probably declined due to loss of habitat. Currently, it is stable in undisturbed areas and readily re-invades disturbed areas as they improve (C. Peterson pers. comm. 1997).

Population Trend
Stable
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Breeding occurs in mountain stream headwaters, or in montane lakes (Stebbins 1985). Egg deposition occurs in submerged nest chambers under logs and rocks or in water-filled crevices within submerged rocks (Stebbins 1985). One female laid 185 eggs (in captivity) during the fall. She was captured 2 feet deep in a rock pile, a likely nest site (Nussbaum 1969). The diet of larval Idaho giant salamanders includes a variety of invertebrates and the larvae of tailed frogs (Ascaphus) (Metter 1963). This species is facultatively paedomorphic; populations may include both gilled, fully aquatic adults as well as terrestrial metamorphic adults (Sepulveda and Lowe 2009).

  • Bury, R. B., Corn, F. S., Aubry, K. B., Gilbert, F. F., and Jones, L. L. C. (1991). ''Aquatic amphibian communities in Oregon and Washington.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, eds., USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285, 353-362.
  • 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, 1983(3), 679-691.
  • Edwards, J.L. (1976). "Spinal nerves and their bearing on salamander phylogeny." Journal of Morphology, 148, 305-328.
  • Good, D.A. (1989). "Hybridization and cryptic species in Dicamptodon (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae)." Evolution, 43, 728-744.
  • Hammerson, G. 2004. Dicamptodon aterrimus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. . Downloaded on 13 January 2011.
  • Metter, D. (1963). "Stomach contents of Idaho larval Dicamptodon." Copeia, 1963, 435-436.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1969). ''Nests and eggs of the Pacific Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus (Eschscholtz).'' Herpetologica, 25, 257-262.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1976). "Geographic variation and systematics of salamanders of the genus Dicamptodon Strauch (Ambystomatidae)." Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 149, 1-94.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Roni, P. (2002). ''Habitat use by fishes and Pacific Giant Salamanders in small western Oregon and Washington streams.'' Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 131, 743-761.
  • Sepulveda, A. J., and Lowe, W. H. (2009). ''Local and landscape-scale influences on the occurrence and density of Dicamptodon aterrimus, the Idaho Giant Salamander.'' Journal of Herpetology, 43, 469-484.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to decline of 30%

Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain, but area of occupancy and abundance probably have been relatively stable or slowly declining. In the late 1990s, this species was regarded as stable in undisturbed areas, and it was recolonizing disturbed areas as they improved (C. Peterson, pers. comm., 1997).

Global Long Term Trend: Relatively stable to decline of 50%

Comments: Long-term trend is uncertain, but area of occupancy and abundance likely have declined (Lohman and Bury 2005), but the degree of decline is unknown. Overall range extent has not declined very much if at all (Lohman and Bury 2005).

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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Breeding occurs in mountain stream headwaters, or in montane lakes (Stebbins 1985). Egg deposition occurs in submerged nest chambers under logs and rocks or in water-filled crevices within submerged rocks (Stebbins 1985). One female laid 185 eggs (in captivity) during the fall. She was captured 2 feet deep in a rock pile, a likely nest site (Nussbaum 1969). The diet of larval Idaho giant salamanders includes a variety of invertebrates and the larvae of tailed frogs (Ascaphus) (Metter 1963). This species is facultatively paedomorphic; populations may include both gilled, fully aquatic adults as well as terrestrial metamorphic adults (Sepulveda and Lowe 2009).

  • Bury, R. B., Corn, F. S., Aubry, K. B., Gilbert, F. F., and Jones, L. L. C. (1991). ''Aquatic amphibian communities in Oregon and Washington.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, eds., USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285, 353-362.
  • 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, 1983(3), 679-691.
  • Edwards, J.L. (1976). "Spinal nerves and their bearing on salamander phylogeny." Journal of Morphology, 148, 305-328.
  • Good, D.A. (1989). "Hybridization and cryptic species in Dicamptodon (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae)." Evolution, 43, 728-744.
  • Hammerson, G. 2004. Dicamptodon aterrimus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. . Downloaded on 13 January 2011.
  • Metter, D. (1963). "Stomach contents of Idaho larval Dicamptodon." Copeia, 1963, 435-436.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1969). ''Nests and eggs of the Pacific Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus (Eschscholtz).'' Herpetologica, 25, 257-262.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1976). "Geographic variation and systematics of salamanders of the genus Dicamptodon Strauch (Ambystomatidae)." Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 149, 1-94.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Roni, P. (2002). ''Habitat use by fishes and Pacific Giant Salamanders in small western Oregon and Washington streams.'' Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 131, 743-761.
  • Sepulveda, A. J., and Lowe, W. H. (2009). ''Local and landscape-scale influences on the occurrence and density of Dicamptodon aterrimus, the Idaho Giant Salamander.'' Journal of Herpetology, 43, 469-484.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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Threats

Major Threats
It is threatened by loss of habitat and habitat degradation due to logging, road construction and siltation. It readily re-invades disturbed areas as they are restored. The Potlatch Timber Company (owns approximately 400,000-600,000 acres) is currently developing a management plan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to leave buffer zones along streams (C. Peterson pers. comm. 1997).
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Although Reichel and Flath (1995) characterized D. aterrimus as extremely rare in western Montana, more recent surveys (2005-2008) by the USGS have found this species in twelve streams in Mineral County, Montana (E. A. Dallalio, pers. comm.).

Populations appear to be stable in undisturbed areas. Threats include habitat loss and degradation resulting from logging, the building of roads, and siltation of streams. This species is able to recolonize formerly disturbed areas once they have been restored. It occurs in several areas that are designated wilderness (Hammerson 2004; Sepulveda and Lowe 2009).

  • Bury, R. B., Corn, F. S., Aubry, K. B., Gilbert, F. F., and Jones, L. L. C. (1991). ''Aquatic amphibian communities in Oregon and Washington.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, eds., USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285, 353-362.
  • 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, 1983(3), 679-691.
  • Edwards, J.L. (1976). "Spinal nerves and their bearing on salamander phylogeny." Journal of Morphology, 148, 305-328.
  • Good, D.A. (1989). "Hybridization and cryptic species in Dicamptodon (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae)." Evolution, 43, 728-744.
  • Hammerson, G. 2004. Dicamptodon aterrimus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. . Downloaded on 13 January 2011.
  • Metter, D. (1963). "Stomach contents of Idaho larval Dicamptodon." Copeia, 1963, 435-436.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1969). ''Nests and eggs of the Pacific Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus (Eschscholtz).'' Herpetologica, 25, 257-262.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1976). "Geographic variation and systematics of salamanders of the genus Dicamptodon Strauch (Ambystomatidae)." Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 149, 1-94.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Roni, P. (2002). ''Habitat use by fishes and Pacific Giant Salamanders in small western Oregon and Washington streams.'' Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 131, 743-761.
  • Sepulveda, A. J., and Lowe, W. H. (2009). ''Local and landscape-scale influences on the occurrence and density of Dicamptodon aterrimus, the Idaho Giant Salamander.'' Journal of Herpetology, 43, 469-484.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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Degree of Threat: Medium

Comments: Primary threat is loss, degradation, and particularly fragmentation of habitat resulting from logging, road construction, and other factors (Fisher 1989, Hossack 1998, Lohman and Bury 2005). Habitat fragmentation interferes with natural metapopulation dynamics (Sepulveda and Lowe 2009, Mullen et al. 2010). Sepulveda and Lowe (2009) found that the probability of occurrence of this species was highest in unfragmented headwater drainages with few roads; they also found that this species was numerous in streams with a high proportion of embedded substrate and fine sediments, indicating that sedimentation is not necessarily a significant threat. Historical placer mining probably negatively affected some populations.

This species readily recolonizes disturbed areas as they recover or are restored. Genetic structure of populations suggests that such recolonization is most likely to occur within catchments (Mullen et al. 2010).

Climate change is a potential threat; habitat could be lost or rendered less suitable as a result of drought or increased temperatures.

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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Although Reichel and Flath (1995) characterized D. aterrimus as extremely rare in western Montana, more recent surveys (2005-2008) by the USGS have found this species in twelve streams in Mineral County, Montana (E. A. Dallalio, pers. comm.).

Populations appear to be stable in undisturbed areas. Threats include habitat loss and degradation resulting from logging, the building of roads, and siltation of streams. This species is able to recolonize formerly disturbed areas once they have been restored. It occurs in several areas that are designated wilderness (Hammerson 2004; Sepulveda and Lowe 2009).

  • Bury, R. B., Corn, F. S., Aubry, K. B., Gilbert, F. F., and Jones, L. L. C. (1991). ''Aquatic amphibian communities in Oregon and Washington.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests. K. Ruggiero, B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, eds., USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285, 353-362.
  • 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, 1983(3), 679-691.
  • Edwards, J.L. (1976). "Spinal nerves and their bearing on salamander phylogeny." Journal of Morphology, 148, 305-328.
  • Good, D.A. (1989). "Hybridization and cryptic species in Dicamptodon (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae)." Evolution, 43, 728-744.
  • Hammerson, G. 2004. Dicamptodon aterrimus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. . Downloaded on 13 January 2011.
  • Metter, D. (1963). "Stomach contents of Idaho larval Dicamptodon." Copeia, 1963, 435-436.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1969). ''Nests and eggs of the Pacific Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus (Eschscholtz).'' Herpetologica, 25, 257-262.
  • Nussbaum, R. A. (1976). "Geographic variation and systematics of salamanders of the genus Dicamptodon Strauch (Ambystomatidae)." Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 149, 1-94.
  • Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
  • Roni, P. (2002). ''Habitat use by fishes and Pacific Giant Salamanders in small western Oregon and Washington streams.'' Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 131, 743-761.
  • Sepulveda, A. J., and Lowe, W. H. (2009). ''Local and landscape-scale influences on the occurrence and density of Dicamptodon aterrimus, the Idaho Giant Salamander.'' Journal of Herpetology, 43, 469-484.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It occurs on several large designated wilderness areas.
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Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: This species occurs on several large designated wilderness areas. In the 1990s, the Potlatch Timber Company (owns approximately 400,000-600,000 acres) was developing a management plan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to leave buffer zones along streams (C. Peterson, pers. comm., 1997).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview: Sepulveda and Lowe (2009) suggested that "management and conservation efforts for this species focus on protecting roadless areas and restoring stream connectivity in human-impacted areas, rather than on only improving habitat quality within streams."

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Wikipedia

Idaho giant salamander

The Idaho Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon aterrimus, is a species of salamander. There are three closely related species to this taxon: D. ensatus, (California Giant Salamander), D. copei (Cope's Giant Salamander) and D. tenebrosus (Coastal Giant Salamander) also known as the (Pacific Giant Salamander).[1]

Description[edit]

The Idaho Giant Salamander is the darkest and most intricately blotched of the Giant Salamanders.[2] Varying between brown, purple, tan, grey, and a copperish color, Idaho giant salamanders are large and robust predators. Tiger Salamanders and Idaho Giant Salamanders have superficial resemblance pertaining to size and shape, but the costal grooves and foot tubercles are significantly different between the two species. With a defining thick head and body along with a fourth toe on the hind foot with only three segments; this species of salamander has its own unique features. Adults are typically 20 cm in length[3] but may vary between 7 and 11.75 inches long, but can be observed around 13 inches.

Small external gills adapted for small stream living can be found on their larvae. Their larvae are usually tan with yellow blotches over their dermis. They can undergo paedomorphosis, but most become mature adults.[citation needed]

Distribution[edit]

This species of salamander is found in forested watersheds from lake Coeur d’Alene to the Salmon River, and in two locations in Montana around Mineral County.

Behavior[edit]

Larvae are predators but tend to sit and wait for their food to come to them. Usually they feed on small invertebrates and some small vertebrates. This can include tadpoles, fish, and other salamanders. Adults usually feed on terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates. They will eat things as large as shrews, mice, and small snakes, along with other salamanders. They will eat anything that they can catch.

Fish, weasels, water shrews, and garter snakes are a few of their predators. To help defend against these predators they have a few strong defense mechanisms to help them survive. They use toxic secretion from their skin, warning postures, a "bark" vocalization, and they will bite. An Idaho Giant salamanders bite can easily break the skin of a human.

Taxonomy[edit]

  • Kingdom Animalia (animals)
  • Eumetazoa (metazoans)
  • Bilateria (bilaterally symmetrical animals)
  • Deuterostomia (deuterostomes)
  • Phylum Chordata (chordates)
  • Craniata (craniates)
  • Subphylum Vertebrata (vertebrates)
  • Superclass Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates)
  • Euteleostomi (bony vertebrates)
  • Class Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fishes and terrestrial vertebrates)
  • Tetrapoda (tetrapods)
  • Class Amphibia (amphibians)
  • Subclass Lissamphibia (amphibians)
  • Order: Caudata (salamanders)
  • Family: Dicamptodontidae (Pacific giant salamanders)
  • Genus: Dicamptodon (Pacific giant salamander)
  • Species: Dicamptodon aterrimus (Idaho giant salamander)

Line notes[edit]

  1. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2008
  2. ^ C. Robert Stebbins. 2003.
  3. ^ Richard Cannings. 2007

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Good (1989) examined genetic relationships and concluded that the genus Dicamptodon comprises 4 species: D. ensatus (west-central California), D. aterrimus (Rocky Mountains of Idaho and adjacent Montana; see also Daugherty et al. (1983), D. tenebrosus (southern British Columbia to northern California), and D. copei (Washington and northern Oregon). A previous study of morphological variation (Nussbaum 1976) concluded that Dicamptodon includes only 2 species, copei and ensatus (the latter including aterrimus and tenebrosus).

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