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A California Tiger Salamander Breeding Pond
Seen Over Several Years

 






 



observation link

 
 

One habitat picture can never show the whole story, so these are pictures of one Contra Costa County pond located at approximately 1400 ft. in elevation (427 m.) as it looked in different months (of different years) showing how the pond and its surroundings change over the seasons and the years.

California Tiger Salamanders, California Red-legged Frogs, Sierran Treefrogs, and California Toads have been observed breeding in the pond. Diablo Range Gartersnakes, Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes, and Western Yellow-bellied Racers have been observed hunting in or around the edge of the pond.

Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes, Pacific Gophersnakes, Pacific Ring-necked Snakes, Sharp-tailed Snakes, California Alligator Lizards, Coast Range Fence Lizards, Skilton's Skinks, California Slender Salamanders, and Yellow-eyed Ensatina have been observed in the grasses and woods near the pond, along with the many California Ground Squirrels that have their burrows all around the pond and the cows that feed around and drink from the pond.



A California Tiger Salamander Breeding Pond Shown Month to Month Starting in 2013 - Including Several Years of Record Drought


When I asked Mark Gary to help me get a year of photographs of this pond to show how it changes during the seasons we did not know that 2013 was going to be the dryest year ever recorded since the state began measuring rainfall in 1849. So instead of a look at the pond in a typical year, we got to show what the pond looked like in a drought year. 2014 started very dry but by March there was enough water for treefrogs and toads to breed, then no rain until late November and a huge rainstorm in early December when it filled up again. 2015 was another dry year but as in the previous years there was still enough precipitation to fill the pond enough for the salamanders to return and breed. Things seemed to return to normal after 2016, with the pond filling up and drying out for a couple of months. In the Fall of 2017 the pond was bulldozed and a new outflow channel was created on a different side of the pond.

tiger salamander habitat
Click to see the pond during every consecutive month of 2016 in an animated loop of Mark Gary's photographs. (Made by Zachary Cava)
 
2019
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early January, 2019. The pond is full of water and California Tiger Salamander eggs are once again present.
© Mark Gary
3 February, 2019. California Tiger Salamander and Sierran Treefrog eggs present. © Mark Gary 5 February, 2019 after light snowfall.
© Mark Gary
Early March, 2019, between rainstorms in a very wet winter. © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat

Early April, 2019. Even greener than March was. © Mark Gary

Early May, 2019 © Mark Gary. Small tiger salamander larvae, red-legged frogs, and gartersnakes observed. Early June, 2019 © Mark Gary. Pond is still overflowing. Large larvae present along with predatory gartersnakes. Early July, 2019 © Mark Gary. The pond level is high for July as it was last year, due to a wet year and maybe the Fall 2017 pond construction. Tiger Salamander larvae, a few tadpoles, and California Red-legged Frogs are visible.
       
2018
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1 January, 2018. The pond is shrinking from lack of rain but a few mature eggs are still visible, either still developing, or maybe they're not viable. © Mark Gary 1 February, 2018. The pond is full again, and treefrogs are breeding. © Mark Gary 27 February, 2018 © Mark Gary 23 March, 2018 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early April, 2018 © Mark Gary
Toad eggs present
Early May, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae observed eating toad tadpoles. Diablo Range Gartersnake observed eating tiger salamander larva.
Early June, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae observed hunting tadpoles.
Early July, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae still observed in pond with tadpoles.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early August, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae still observed in pond but not tadpoles.
1 September, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae still observed in the puddle.
Early October, 2018 © Mark Gary
The pond is reduced to a puddle once again. A cow got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out, so the puddle has been temporarily fenced off to prevent any more stuck cows.
Early November, 2018 © Mark Gary
Almost completely dry. Temporary fence still in place.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat    
Mid November, 2018 © Mark Gary
No rain yet. Temporary cow fence removed.
Early December, 2018 © Mark Gary
After a little rain, the pond is once again ready for salamander breeding.
   
       
2017
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Early January, 2017 © Mark Gary
Following new heavy rains, the pond contains new CA Tiger salamander eggs.
Mid January, 2017 © Mark Gary
Pond still contains CA Tiger salamander eggs.
Early February, 2017 © Mark Gary
Early March, 2017 © Mark Gary
Sierran Treefrog eggs are hatched, CA Red-legged Frog egg laying has begun, CA Tiger Salamander larvae are visible.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early April, 2017 © Mark Gary
Sierran Treefrogs have laid more eggs.
Early May, 2017 © Mark Gary Early June, 2017 © Mark Gary Early July, 2017 © Mark Gary
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Mid July, 2017. CA Tiger Salamander larvae still visible coming up for air.
© Mark Gary
Early August, 2017. Tiger salamander larvae still visible in pond. © Mark Gary Early September, 2017. Record heat, but water still present with many young CA Red-legged frogs seen in the pond.
© Mark Gary
Early October, 2017
© Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Mid October, 2017 © Mark Gary
Heavy equipment has been used to modify the earthen dam that maintains the pond. The outflow channel into the nearby creek has been moved to the other side of the pond and reinforced with rocks. The former outflow channel had eroded to the point that it was keeping the pond at a lower level when it was full. It will be very interesting to observe the pond in the coming years to see if this maintenance causes the pond to increase in size so much that it stops drying out. If the pond does not dry out, that creates the opportunity for American Bullfrogs, which prefer a permanent water source, to move in, which could be disasterous for the tiger salamanders and other amphibians that currently utilize the pond. Fortunately, maybe miraculously, bullfrogs have not yet been found in the permanent pond nearby or in any other nearby pond, to my knowledge.
Early November, 2017, after the pond has been modified. © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat      
1 December, 2017. After only a little bit of November rain, the pond again contains some water and a lot of California Tiger Salamander eggs that were probably laid in late November.
© Mark Gary
     
 
2016
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
January 3rd, 2016 © Mark Gary
CA Tiger Salamander eggs are present
January 31st, 2016 © Mark Gary 
CA Tiger salamander eggs still present
February 6th, 2016 © Mark Gary 
CA Tiger salamander embryos with gills are visible. Some have already hatched.
Early March, 2016 © Mark Gary 
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early April, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early May, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early June, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early July, 2016 © Mark Gary 
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Mid August, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early September, 2016 © Mark Gary
For the past three years, the pond has been completely dry in September, but not this year.
Early October, 2016 © Mark Gary
Nothing left but a puddle.
Mid October, 2016 © Mark Gary
The rains have begun.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat    
Early November, 2016 © Mark Gary
After a lot of rainfall, news reports are declaring the drought over in Northern California. The pond seems to agree when compared to the lack of water in the three previous Novembers.
December 3rd, 2016 © Mark Gary
CA Tiger salamander eggs were laid this year between November 26th and December 3rd.

   
 
2015
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early January, 2015 (Full of Sierran treefrog eggs and CA Tiger Salamander eggs.) © Mark Gary Early February, 2015 - no rain since December. © Mark Gary Early March, 2015   © Mark Gary Early April, 2015   © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early May, 2015. Toxic Blue Green Algae has been discovered.   © Mark Gary Mid May, 2015, after thunderstorms 
© Mark Gary
Early June, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early July, 2015 © Mark Gary Early August, 2015 © Mark Gary Nothing but dirt again, Early September, 2015 © Mark Gary Early October, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat    
Early November, 2015 © Mark Gary Filling up, early December, 2015
© Mark Gary
   
 
2014
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January, 2014 © Mark Gary


February 1, 2014 © Mark Gary


February 17, 2014
After the first large rainstorm in over a year. Sierran Treefrogs quickly laid eggs in the water. Maybe the CA Tiger salamanders will breed this year, after all.
Early March, 2014 © Mark Gary


tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Late March, 2014 © Mark Gary


Mid April, 2014 © Mark Gary Early May, 2014 © Mark Gary
Mark reports seeing California Tiger Salamander larvae in the pond. He heard from an East Bay Parks biologist that tiger salamander larvae have not been seen at most of the known breeding locations this year.
Early June, 2014 © Mark Gary
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June 21, 2014 © Mark Gary Early July, 2014 © Mark Gary Mid July, 2014 - dry again © Mark Gary Early August, 2014 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early September, 2014 © Mark Gary Mid October, 2014 © Mark Gary Early November, 2014 © Mark Gary Full again, early December, 2014
© Mark Gary
 
2013 (beginning in April)
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
January, 2012 February, 2011 March, 2010 April, 2013  © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
May, 2013  © Mark Gary June, 2013 © Mark Gary July, 2013 © Mark Gary August, 2013 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
September, 2013 © Mark Gary October, 2013  © Mark Gary
November, 2013  © Mark Gary
December, 2013 © Mark Gary
       

Comparisons of the California Tiger Salamander Breeding Pond During the Same Month of Different Years

       
January
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
January, 2012 (Breeding Season) January, 2014 © Mark Gary January, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
January 3rd, 2016 © Mark Gary
CA Tiger Salamander eggs are present.
January 31st, 2016 © Mark Gary 
CA Tiger salamander eggs still present.
Early January, 2017 © Mark Gary
Following new heavy rains, the pond contains new CA Tiger salamander eggs.
Mid January, 2017 © Mark Gary
Pond still contains CA Tiger Salamander eggs.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat    
1 January, 2018. The pond is shrinking from lack of rain but a few mature eggs are still visible, either still developing, or maybe they're not viable. Early January, 2019. The pond is full of water and California Tiger Salamander eggs are once again present.
© Mark Gary
   
       
February
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February, 2011
Early February, 2014 © Mark Gary Early February, 2015 © Mark Gary February 6th, 2016 © Mark Gary 
CA Tiger salamander embryos with gills are visible. Some have already hatched.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early February, 2017 © Mark Gary
1 February, 2018. The pond is full again, and treefrogs are breeding. © Mark Gary 27 February, 2018 © Mark Gary 3 February, 2019. California Tiger Salamander and Sierran Treefrog eggs present. © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat      
5 February, 2019, after light snowfall.
© Mark Gary
     
       
March
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
March, 2006 March, 2010 March, 2011 Late March, 2014 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early March, 2015   © Mark Gary Early March, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early March, 2017 © Mark Gary
Sierran Treefrog eggs are hatched, Red-legged Frog egg laying has begun, CA Tiger Salamander larvae are visible.
23 March, 2018 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat      
Early March, 2019, between rainstorms in a very wet winter. © Mark Gary      
       
April
California Red-legged Frog Habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
April, 2003 April, 2013 © Mark Gary
Mid April, 2014 © Mark Gary Early April, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early April, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early April, 2017 © Mark Gary
Sierran Treefrogs have laid more eggs.
Early April, 2018 © Mark Gary
Toad eggs now present
Early April, 2019. Even greener than March was. © Mark Gary
       
May
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
May, 2011 May, 2013  © Mark Gary Early May, 2014 © Mark Gary
Early May, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early May, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early May, 2017 © Mark Gary Late May, 2017 Early May, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae now eating toad tadpoles.
tiger salamander habitat      
Early May, 2019 © Mark Gary. Small tiger salamander larvae, red-legged frogs, and gartersnakes observed.      
       
June
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
June, 2010 June, 2010 June, 2013 © Mark Gary Early June, 2014 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early June, 2015 © Mark Gary Early June, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early June, 2017 © Mark Gary Early June, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae observed hunting tadpoles.
tiger salamander habitat      
Early June, 2019 © Mark Gary. Pond is still overflowing. Large larvae present along with predatory gartersnakes.      
       
July
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
July, 2011 July, 2013 © Mark Gary Early July, 2014 © Mark Gary Early July, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early July, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early July, 2017 © Mark Gary Mid July, 2017 Tiger Salamander larvae still visible coming up for air.
© Mark Gary
Early July, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae still observed in pond.
tiger salamander habitat      
Early July, 2019 © Mark Gary. The pond level is high for July as it was last year, due to a wet year and maybe the Fall 2017 pond construction. Tiger Salamander larvae, a few tadpoles, and California Red-legged Frogs are visible.      
       
August
pond tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
August, 2010 - As I am trying to photograph tiger salamander larvae in the water, a couple of biologists come and drag a net through the pond. They find Sierran treefrogs with deformities caused by parasites spread by snails, and they tell me that the dreaded chytrid fungus is here, too. August, 2011 August, 2013 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
August, 2014 © Mark Gary Early August, 2015 © Mark Gary Mid August, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early August, 2017. Tiger salamander larvae still visible in pond. © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat      
Early August, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae still observed in pond but not tadpoles.
     
       
September
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
September, 2012  © Mark Gary
September, 2013 © Mark Gary September, 2014 © Mark Gary Early September, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat  
Early September, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early September, 2017. Record heat, but water still present with many young CA Red-legged frogs seen in the pond.
© Mark Gary
1 September, 2018 © Mark Gary
Tiger salamander larvae still observed in the puddle.
 
       
October
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
October, 2013  © Mark Gary October, 2014 © Mark Gary Early October, 2015 © Mark Gary Early October, 2016 © Mark Gary
Nothing left but a puddle.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Mid October, 2016 © Mark Gary
The rains have begun.
Early October, 2017
© Mark Gary
Mid October, 2017 © Mark Gary
Heavy equipment has been used to modify the earthen dam that maintains the pond. The outflow channel into the nearby creek has been moved to the other side of the pond and reinforced with rocks.
Early October 2018 © Mark Gary
The pond is reduced to a puddle once again. A cow got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out, so the puddle has been temporarily fenced off to avoid more cow trauma.
       
November
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
November, 2011  © Mark Gary November, 2013  © Mark Gary
November, 2014 © Mark Gary Early November, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early November, 2016 © Mark Gary
After a lot of rainfall, news reports are declaring the drought over in Northern California. The pond seems to agree when compared to the lack of water in the three previous Novembers.
Early November, 2017, after the pond has been modified. © Mark Gary Early November, 2018 © Mark Gary
Almost completely dry. Temporary fence still in place.
Mid November, 2018 © Mark Gary
No rain yet. Temporary cow fence removed.
       
December
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
December, 2013 © Mark Gary Early December, 2014 © Mark Gary Early December, 2015 © Mark Gary December 3rd, 2016 © Mark Gary
CA Tiger salamander eggs were laid this year between November 26th and December 3rd.

tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat    
1 December, 2017. After only a little bit of November rain, the pond again contains some water and a lot of California Tiger Salamander eggs that were probably laid in late November.
© Mark Gary
Early December, 2018 © Mark Gary
After a little rain, the pond is once again ready for salamander breeding.
   
       

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