California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense) - Wiki
California Tiger Salamander
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[Photo] Ambystoma californiense, California Tiger Salamander. Date: Jun 1, 1993. Location: Santa Rosa (Sonoma County, California, US). Photographer: Gerald and Buff Corsi. Copyright ?? 1999 California Academy of Sciences. Source: http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/CalAcademy.html
The California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense) is an endangered amphibian native to Northern California. Previously considered to be a Tiger Salamander subspecies, the California was recently designated a separate species.
The California Tiger Salamander is a relatively large, secretive amphibian. Adults can grow to a length of about 8 - 10 inches. It has a stocky body and a broad rounded snout. Adults are black and have yellow or cream spots; larvae are greenish-grey in color. The California Tiger Salamander has brown protruding eyes with a black pupil.
Habitat and range
The California Tiger Salamander is endemic to California. Because it depends on water for reproduction, its habitat is limited to the vicinity of large, fishless vernal pools or similar water bodies. It occurs at elevations up to 1000 m (3200 ft).
It occurs in California in Sonoma County, especially in the Laguna de Santa Rosa (outside the flood plain), and Santa Barbara County, in vernal pool complexes and isolated ponds along the Central Valley from Colusa County to Kern County, and in sag ponds in the coastal range. Both the Sonoma and Santa Barbara populations are listed as endangered since 2000 and 2003, respectively. On 8/4/04, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed the CA tiger salamander as threatened throughout its range. In doing so, the status of the Santa Barbara and Sonoma county populations was changed from endangered to threatened. However, the Santa Barbara and Sonoma County populations were returned to Endangered status on 8/19/05. The main threat to the salamanders is habitat destruction through human interaction.
Adults spend 1/4 of their lives underground, in burrows created by other animals such as ground squirrels: the salamanders themselves are poorly equipped for burrowing. Little is known about their underground life, except that they spend the dry season in estivation.
Breeding takes place in December, when the wet season allows the salamanders to migrate to the nearest pond, a journey that may be as far as a mile and take several days. The eggs, which the female lays in small clusters or singly, hatch after some 10 to 14 days.
The larval period lasts for three to six months. The larvae feed on other small invertebrates, including tadpoles. When their pond dries, they resorb their gills, develop lungs, and then the metamorphs leave the pond in search of a burrow.
A Tiger Salamander's metamorphosis can be postponed indefinitely. This is called facultative neoteny. This usually happens when terrestrial conditions are relatively bad, or aquatic conditions are relatively good. Over a long enough period of time, neoteny may cause speciation, but if things change quickly, the next generation may transform. Neotenes and non-neotenes sometimes share the same ponds.
California Tiger Salamanders are believed to have relatively long life spans, ten years or more.
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