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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California




San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander -
Batrachoseps gabrieli

Wake, 1996
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San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander Range Map
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Range Map of all Slender Salamanders in California



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San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander
  Adult, Los Angeles County  
San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander
  Adult, Los Angeles County  
San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander
Adult, Los Angeles County Adult, coiling defensively Adult, Los Angeles County
San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander
Adult, Los Angeles County
San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander
Underside of adult, Los Angeles County Adult and Juvenile, Los Angeles County (captured and handled under state Scientific Collecting Permit and released at point of capture.) © Adam Clause Juvenile coiled up on acorn,
Los Angeles County
  slender salamander foot  
  Slender Salmanders (genus Batrachoseps) have only 4 toes on their hind feet. All other California salamanders have 5 toes on their hind feet.  
     
Comparisons with sympatric slender salamanders
San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander comparison
San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander comparison  
In some areas the Black Bellied Slender Salamander, Batrachoseps nigriventris, shown on the left of the picture on the left, occurs with B. gabrieli, shown on the right. These two salamanders were found next to each other under the same rock. (Note the larger, more robust limbs and body of B. gabrieli.)
© William Flaxington
Comparison of B. m. major (left) and B. gabrieli (collected with a permit.)
Note the darker color of B. gabrieli and larger feet and toes.
 
     
Habitat
San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat
Habitat, 3,800 ft., Los Angeles County
San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat
Habitat, 3,800 ft., Los Angeles County Habitat, 3,800 ft., Los Angeles County Habitat, San Gabriel Mountains,
Los Angeles County
Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat  
Habitat, 3,800 ft., San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County Habitat, 3,800 ft. San Gabriel Mountains,
Los Angeles County
 
     
Short Video
  San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander  
  An adult salamander crawling
in leaf litter under a shrub.
 
   
Description
 
Size
Adults are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long (3.8 - 5.1 cm) from snout to vent.

Appearance
A small slim salamander with 18 -19 costal grooves.
Short limbs, a long slender body with a narrow head and a long tail, and conspicuous costal and caudal grooves give this species the worm-like appearance typical of most Slender Salamanders.
Fairly robust for a Batrachoseps, with a fairly broad head, long limbs, large feet, and tapered tail.

There are four toes on the front and hind feet, which is typical of all Slender Salamanders.
(Other California salamanders have five toes on the hind feet.)
Color and Pattern
Black above with a coppery to orange patchy dorsal stripe, becoming patches on the tail, and white speckling.
The underside is dark with scattered speckles.

Comparison With Sympatric Slender Salamanders
Co-exists with B. nigriventris in some localities.
B. nigriventris has a narrower head, shorter limbs, smaller feet, and a longer tail.
Found about 2 miles from B. major. (Stebbins 2003)

Life History and Behavior
A member of family Plethodontidae, the Plethodontid or Lungless Salamanders.

Plethodontid salamanders do not breathe through lungs. They conduct respiration through their skin and their mouth tissues, which requires them to live in damp environments on land and to move about on the ground only during times of high humidity. (Plethodontid salamanders native to California do not inhabit streams or bodies of water but they are capable of surviving for some time if they fall into water.)

Plethodontid salamanders are also distinguished by their naso-labial grooves, which are vertical slits between the nostrils and upper lip that are lined with glands associated with chemoreception.

All Plethodontid Salamanders native to California lay eggs in moist places on land.
The young develop in the egg and hatch directly into a tiny terrestrial salamander with the same body form as an adult.
(They do not hatch in the water and begin their lives as tiny swimming larvae breathing through gills like some other types of salamanders.)
Activity
Lives and in moist places on land.
Found under large rocks, logs, and bark.
Active on rainy or wet nights when temperatures are moderate, limited to the rainy season which is generally November through April.
Retreats into deep talus when temperatures rise and the soil dries.
Has been found while snow was present on the ground.
Defense
Slender salamanders use several defense tactics, including:
- Coiling and remaining still, relying on cryptic coloring to avoid detection.
- Uncoiling quickly and springing away repeatedly bouncing over the ground, then remaining still again to avoid detection.
- Detaching the tail, which wriggles on the ground to distract a predator from the salamander long enough for it to escape. 
(After its tail is detached or severed, the salamander will grow a new tail.)
Diet and Feeding
Eats small invertebrates, including ants.

A sit-and-wait predator, feeding with a projectile tongue.
Breeding
Reproduction is terrestrial. 
Reproduction is thought to occur after the first heavy fall rains.
Nest sites have not been recorded, but other Batrachoseps species lay eggs in moist places on land.
Eggs
It is presumed that eggs are laid deep underneath talus piles.
Young
Young develop completely in the egg and hatch fully-formed.

Habitat
Closely assosicated with extensive rock talus on forested slopes, often near a stream.

Geographical Range
A California endemic, found in at least 13 locations, from San Gabriel Canyon in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains to Kimbark and Waterman Canyon in the extreme western San Bernardino Mountains.
Elevational Range
Occurs at elevations from  2,800 - 7,800 ft.  (850 - 2,380 m.)

Notes on Taxonomy
Not discovered until the 1990's, which is unusual due to its close proximity to a heavily populated area. Described officially in 1996.

After the initial discovery of this species, more searches have been made in rocky talus, and more isolated salamander populations have been discovered. These salamanders are included with B. gabrieli, but some could warrant recognition as distinct species.

Here's a Diagram of the Batrachoseps Complex showing the relationships between species.


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Batrachoseps gabrieli - San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander (Stebbins 2003)
Batrachoseps gabrieli - San Gabriel Slender Salamander (Wake 1996)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Considered a sensitive species, most likely due to its limited habitat close to a heavily populated area. All known localities are on public lands in the Los Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests.
Taxonomy
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders Gray, 1850
Genus Batrachoseps Slender Salamanders Bonaparte, 1841
Species

gabrieli San Gabriel Slender Salamander Wake, 1996
Original Description
Wake, David B. "A new species of Batrachoseps (Amphibia: Plethodontidae) from the San Gabriel Mountains,
southern California." Contributions in Science, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. 463. 1996.

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Batrachoseps: Greek - amphibian, frog lizard - describes lizard-like appearance.
gabrieli: of the San Gabriel Mountains (type-locality.)

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Similar Neighboring Salamanders
Batrachoseps nigriventris
Batrachoseps major major

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

AmphibiaWeb

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Bishop, Sherman C. Handbook of Salamanders. Cornell University Press, 1943.

Lannoo, Michael (Editor). Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, June 2005.

Petranka, James W. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution, 1998.

Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.



Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking G2G3 Imperiled - Vulnerable
NatureServe State Ranking S2S3 Imperiled - Vulnerable
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service S Sensitive
IUCN DD Data Deficient
 

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