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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander -
Batrachoseps gavilanensis

Jockusch, Yanev & Wake, 2001
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Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Range Map
Range in California: Red

Dot-locality Range Map

Range Map of all Slender Salamanders in California



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Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander
Juvenile, San Benito County Adult, San Benito County
Adult, eastern Monterey County
Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander
Adult, Monterey County Adult, San Benito County Adult, Monterey County
Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander
Adult, eastern Monterey County Adult, eastern Monterey County Adult, northern Monterey County
Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander
Adult, San Benito County Adult, Monterey Bay sand dunes, northern Monterey County
Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander slender salamander toes  
Underside of adult 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 some similar sympatric species.
Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander comparison Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander comparison Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander comparison
Batrachoseps nigriventris occurs close to the southern range of B. gavilanensis. B. nigriventris has slightly smaller fingers and toes. In Southern Santa Cruz County, the range of B. gavilanensis overlaps that of Batrachoseps attenuatus. The two species appear very similar, but here you can see that B. gavilanensis has proportionally larger fingers and toes. Batrachoseps luciae and B. gavilanensis occur close to each other, and were once considered the same species. They are identical in appearance.
     
Habitat
Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat
Habitat, San Benito County Habitat, San Benito County Habitat, Gabilan Mountains,
San Benito County
Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Habitat
Monterey bay coastal sand dunes habitat, Monterey County Habitat, Monterey County Habitat, San Benito County
     
Short Video
  Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander  
  Several Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamanders are seen on a cold late winter day along with some of their habiat.  
     
Description
 
Size
Adults are 1 1/2 to 2  3/5 inches long (3.8 - 6.6 cm) from snout to vent, or 3  3/4 to 6  1/2 inches (9.5 - 16.5 cm) in total length.

Appearance
A small thin salamander with 19-22 costal grooves.
Short limbs, a narrow head, long slender body, very long tail, and conspicuous costal and caudal grooves give this species the worm-like appearance typical of most Slender Salamanders.

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
Gray with brownish black ground color and there may be a distinct brownish gray to coppery tan dorsal stripe extending onto the tail and bordered by blackish dots.
Small whitish speckling mark the sides.

Comparison with Sympatric Slender Salamanders
Coexists with B. nigriventris in the southern part of its range. B. gavilanensis is the larger, more robust, of the two species, with longer limbs and a broader neck and head than B. nigriventris.

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
Active on rainy or wet nights when temperatures are moderate, late fall through spring, mostly December to April.
Retreats underground when the soil dries or when air temperature drops to near freezing.
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 a variety of small invertebrates.
A sit-and-wait predator, using a projectile tongue to catch prey.
Breeding
Reproduction is terrestrial. 
Eggs
Egg deposition sites are unknown. It is assumed that females lay eggs in moist places underground as with other species of Batrachoseps.
Young
Young develop completely in the egg and hatch fully formed.

Habitat
Habitats include moist redwood forests, gray pine and mixed evergreen forests, oak woodlands, chaparral, and open grasslands with scattered oaks. Habitat at the southern end of the range tends to be hot and semi-arid, and populations are localized in moist areas on north-facing slopes. Typically found under rocks, logs, bark, driftwood, and other surface debris.

Geographical Range
Endemic to California. Occurs along the central coast of California from the base of the Santa Cruz mountains at Rodeo Gulch, Santa Cruz County, southward to the eastern margin of the city of Monterey, at Jack's Peak. Occurs inland into the Gabilan and Diablo mountains and the east slope of the Santa Lucia mountains south into northern San Luis Obispo county, and the Temblor Range in Kern County (where salamanders are tentatively assigned to this species.)

Co-exists with B. attenuatus, in Santa Cruz County (Hecker Pass is one location), and B. nigriventris in the southern part of its range (Mustang Ridge and Peachtree Valley). May coexist with B. luciae in Carmel Valley and near Arroyo Seco.
Elevational Range
From sea level to around 5,000 ft. (1,500 m).

Notes on Taxonomy
B. gavilanensis was described in 2001. Salamanders now known as B. gavilanensis were formerly recognized as Batrachoseps pacificus which has been split into ten different species due to molecular studies.

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


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Batrachoseps gavilanensis - Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander (Jockusch, Yanev, Wake 2001, Stebbins 2003)
Batrachoseps pacificus relictus - Relictual Slender Salamander (Stebbins 1985)
Batrachoseps attenuatus - California Slender Salamander (Stebbins 1954, 1966)
Batrachoseps attenuatus attenuatus - Worm-salamander (Bishop 1943)
Batrachoseps attenuatus - Slender Salamander (Storer 1925)
Batrachoseps nigriventris (Cope 1869)
Batrachoseps attenuatus (Cooper 1868)
Batrachoseps attenuata (Baird 1850)
Salamandrina attenuata (Eschscholtz 1833)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
No known critical conservation concerns. Common and widespread throughout their range, some of which is relatively undisturbed publicly owned lands.
Taxonomy
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders Gray, 1850
Genus Batrachoseps Slender Salamanders Bonaparte, 1841
Species

gavilanensis Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander Jockusch, Yanev & Wake, 2001
Original Description
Elizabeth L. Jockusch, Kay P. Yanev, and David B. Wake ''Molecular phylogenetic analysis
of slender salamanders, genus Batrachoseps (Amphibia: Plethodontidae), from central coastal
California with descriptions of four new species.'' Herpetological Monographs, #15 2001.

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

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

Similar Neighboring Salamanders
Batrachoseps attenuatus
Batrachoseps luciae
Batrachoseps nigriventris
Batrachoseps minor
Batrachoseps incognitus

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

AmphibiaWeb

Elizabeth L. Jockusch, Kay P. Yanev, and David B. Wake ''Molecular phylogenetic analysis of slender salamanders, genus Batrachoseps (Amphibia: Plethodontidae), from central coastal California with descriptions of four new species.'' Herpetological Monographs, #15 2001.

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.


This salamander is not included on the Special Animals List, meaning there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California according to the California Department of Fish and Game.


Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
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 None
IUCN
 

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