Subadult Western Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon vehiculum). Lifer animal, Wahkiakum Co. .
So when I moved to Washington I made a semi serious herping goal just to see if it was possible- I wondered if you could find the three less common woodland salamanders (Plethodon larselli, vandykei, and dunni) before encountering the more abundant fourth member of the genus.
P. vehiculum are one of, if not the most common salamanders in the entire PNW and they can readily be found in essentially the same habitat as ALL of the other Plethodon in the region. I was so close to pulling off the goal! Larselli and dunni came without too much hassle, but vandykei is another story altogether. When I flipped this little dude yesterday I wasn't exactly bummed about failing, I was mainly just surprised that it took me so long to see one!
Evie and I had a wonderful time up at Prarie Creek the other day where I saw my first few Del norte salamanders (Plethodon elongatus) which were extremely fiesty. And some beautiful scenery. I also included a pic of a recent giant pacific (Dicamptodon tenebrosus)I saw the other night since it was so darn cute.
Now two weeks post-op and enjoying bed rest but easing myself off of it slowly! Took a short hike the other day and stumbled onto my other true love: salamanders! I was hoping to find some marbleds but it is kind dry for them to be on the surface at the moment. My moms boyfriend dubbed this little fella Melvin, an adolescent red backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus). #postop#healing#hiking#nc#salamanders#herps#herpsofnc#plethodon#plethodontidae#redback
Western Redback Salamander (Plethodon vehiculum). Another of the PNW's salamanders belonging to the family "Plethodontidae," or lungless amphibians, these cuties make do by laying eggs in moist underground areas and enjoying swathes of urban forest habitat. However, their ability to re-colonize depends on healthy dispersion. Populations that are in rapid decline are those that cannot establish new territories and replenish colonies- this is why pockets of prime habitat may hold no existing generations of salamanders.
What's also interesting about the Western Redback is that they use chemical cues for mating and in courtship, the male carries his lady love while she grips his tail. Once eggs are laid, the youngsters skip the aquatic larval stage and emerge as tiny adults. #westernredback#salamanders#amphibians#Plethodontidae#plethodon#plethodonvehiculum#waherps
We found this lovely female Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii) underneath the damp confines of a log. Sexing these salamanders is fairly easy due to facial structure differences. Males have a somewhat "puppy dog" appearance while females have a more rounded snout. This adorable species is lungless, having adapted the ability to breathe through their skin. They also are not pond breeders, instead preferring moist crevices to lay their eggs. Sweet-natured and bug-eyed, they are sure to make any soggy nature walk memorable. #lungless#plethodon#oregonensatina#ensatina#ensatinaeschscholtzii
Adult female Larch Mountain Salamander (Plethodon larselli) in habitat, October 2017. .
The habitat of these animals is specific (damp, forested talus slides comprised of small rocks) and unfortunately quite fragile. Areas of talus that become deforested due to things like timber harvest or stand-replacing fires become less shaded and consequently warmer than these animals require. It's been shown in a study from 1985 that P. vehiculum often outcompetes P. larselli in areas where this has occured.
Adult Siskiyou Mountains Salamander (Plethodon stormi). Siskiyou County, April 2017. .
Let's keep this Plethodon train rolling! These alien looking, googly-eyed salmanders are restricted to a very small (150,000 HA) area in Northern California and Southwestern Oregon. Their preferred habitat of moist, late-seral stage forest with rocky substrate is threatened by timber harvest, rock mining, and intense fires.
Juvenile Siskiyou Mountains Salamander (Plethodon stormi) in habitat. Siskiyou County, April 2017. .
Between a broken phone, being sick, and a visit from family I've been really slacking lately on the whole posting thing...so here's another photo from the stormi trip earlier in the year!
Red-backed salamanders are entirely terrestrial, so they don't have an aquatic larval stage like most amphibians (think tadpole). They hatch from eggs fully formed, like mini adults. This is just about as small as they get! #herpetology#plethodon#salamander