CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Santa Cruz Black Salamander -
Aneides flavipunctatus niger

Myers and Maslin, 1948

(= Santa Cruz Black Salamander - Aneides Niger)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Black Salamanders Range MapOrange = Range of this subspecies in California

Aneides flavipunctatus niger -
 Santa Cruz Black Salamander

Range of other subspecies in California:

Red: Aneides flavipunctatus  flavipunctatus -
 Speckled Black Salamander


Click the map for a topographical view






observation link





Four species of Aneides flavipunctatus have been described in August, 2019 (see range map below). Aneides flavipunctatus niger is elevated to Aneides niger. I have divided up my pictures of black salamanders and their habitat on this page and a the Aneides flavipunctatus flavipunctatus page according to which of the three species to which they belong. (I did that years ago when the first information was published that there were multiple clades within the species.) However, I will not yet fully divide them into four species with a separate page for each pending acceptance of the new taxonomy (which should happen easily based on the fact that there have been several papers published over a period of year so these results have been expected.)
 
Santa Cruz Black Salamander
Adult, Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander
  Adult, Santa Clara County  
Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander
  Adult, Santa Clara County  
Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander
Adult, Santa Clara County Adult, Santa Clara County Adult, Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamanders Santa Cruz Black Salamanders
Juvenile, Santa Clara County Adult and juvenile, Santa Clara County Adult, Santa Cruz County
© Zachary Lim
Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander
Adult, Santa Cruz County
© Zachary Lim
Juvenile, Santa Cruz County
© Zachary Lim
Juvenile, Santa Cruz County
© Zachary Lim
Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander
Adult, Santa Cruz County
© Zachary Lim
Juvenile, Santa Clara County © Zachary Lim
Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander
Adult, Santa Clara County
© Mark Gary
Adult, Santa Cruz County
© 2005 Brad Alexander
Adult, Santa Cruz County
© Spencer Riffle
Santa Cruz Black Salamander Santa Cruz Black Salamander  
Adult, Santa Clara County © Mark Gary Toes with tips adapted for climbing
© Mark Gary
 
     
Habitat
Santa Cruz Black Salamander Habitat Santa Cruz Black Salamander Habitat Santa Cruz Black Salamander Habitat
Habitat, Santa Cruz County Habitat, San Mateo County Habitat, Santa Cruz County
© Zachary Lim
  Santa Cruz Black Salamander Habitat  
  Habitat, San Mateo County  
   
Description
 
Size
Adults measure 2 - 3 3/4 inches long (5.1 - 9.5 cm) from snout to vent, and up to 5.5 inches (14 cm) in total length.

Appearance
A medium-sized salamander with nasolabial grooves and well-defined costal grooves.
Color and Pattern
Dorsal coloring is solid black, with a few fine white specks.
Male/Female Differences
Males have a broader head than females.
Young
Young are black with white speckles

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 the tissues lining their mouth. This 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 a short 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
Adapted for climbing with long toes and rounded prehensile tail, but mostly terrestrial. Adults forage for small invertebrates on the ground at night during wet weather. May be active along streams all year at the southern part of its range, but most stay underground during dry periods.
Territoriality
Adults appear to be agressively territorial.
Longevity
Black Salamanders have lived as long as 20 years in captivity.
Defense
When threatened, juveniles typically remain still while adults attempt to flee. Other defense tactics include defensive posturing - raising the body, lowering the head, and waving the tail, jumping, releasing noxious sticky skin secretions, and biting.
Diet and Feeding
Diet consists of a variety of small invertebrates, including millipedes, ants and termites. As salamanders grow larger, they eat fewer, but larger prey items.
Breeding
Reproduction is terrestrial.
Courtship and breeding behavior is not well known.
Breeding males have a well-developed mental gland.
Eggs
Females probably lay from 8 - 25 eggs in moist cavities belowthe ground in July and August.
Eggs are attached by peduncles.
Females stay with the eggs until they hatch.
Young
Young develop completely in the egg and hatch fully formed.

Habitat
Occurs in mixed deciduous woodland, coniferous forests, coastal grasslands. Found under rocks near streams, in talus, under damp logs, and other objects.

Geographical Range
This subspecies has been elevated to a full species. It is endemic to California, with a limited range west of the San Francisco Bay and south of the San Francisco peninsusla from Santa Cruz County and western Santa Clara County, north to southern San Mateo County.
Full Species Range Map
Elevational Range
Found from near sea level to at least 2,240 ft. (personal communication) possibly higher.

Taxonomic Notes
In a 2019 paper Reilly & Wake confirmed that Aneides flavipunctatus consists of four species:

Klamath Black Salamander - Aneides klamathensis - Stebbins, 1951 & Dubois and Raffaelli, 2009
Speckled Black Salamander - Aneides flavipunctatus (Strauch 1870)
Shasta Black Salamander - Aneides iecanus (Cope 1883)
Santa Cruz Black Salamander - Aneides Niger Myers & Maslin 1948

(Reilly and Wake (2019), PeerJ, DOI 10.7717/peerj.7370 )

In a 2014 paper,  Reilly and Wake continue to show four species-level units of A. flavipunctatus, including the isolated population south of the San Francisco Bay, but they do not describe any new species.

(Sean B. Reilly and David B. Wake. Cryptic diversity and biogeographical patterns within the black salamander (Aneides flavipunctatus) complex.
Journal of Biogeography, 2014.)


In a study published in 2007, Rissler and Apodaca determined that even though there is little morphological divergence across the species, the use of mtDNA analyses and ecological modeling indicates that there are four separate main lineages of A. flavipunctatus which eventually should be given full species status: A Southern Disjunct lineage on the San Francisco Peninsula and in the Santa Cruz Mountains; a Shasta lineage in the Mount Shasta region; a Central lineage on the north coast and north coast ranges north of San Francisco Bay; and a Northwest lineage in the northwest corner of the state including Humboldt, Del Norte, and Siskiyou Counties. There is another population within the Central Lineage which is also distinct, but they do not discuss this in detail. They recommended that the Shasta and Southern lineages be elevated to species status, but that more work is needed to determine the southern extent of the Northwest lineage. Once that has been determined, they recommend that the Northwest lineage also be elevated to species status.

(Rissler, Leslie J., and Joseph J. Apodaca. Adding More Ecology into Species Delimitation: Ecological Niche Models and Phylogeography Help Define Cryptic Species in the Black Salamander (Aneides flavipunctatus). Syst. Biol. 56(6):924–942, 2007 )


The June 2016 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Special Animals List shows this taxa as a full species: Aneides Niger - Santa Cruz Black Salamander.



Distribution map of the four species of Black Salamanders.
(Based on Reilly & Wake, 2019)

Red: Klamath Black Salamander - Aneides klamathensis - Stebbins, 1951 & Dubois and Raffaelli, 2009
Purple: Speckled Black Salamander - Aneides flavipunctatus (Strauch 1870)
Orange: Shasta Black Salamander - Aneides iecanus (Cope 1883)
Dark Blue: Santa Cruz Black Salamander - Aneides Niger Myers & Maslin 1948
Gray: Species not yet assigned


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Aneides flavipunctatus niger - Santa Cruz Black Salamander (Stebbins & McGinnis 2012)
Aneides flavipunctatus - Black Salamander (Stebbins 1985, 2003)
Aneides flavipunctatus niger - Santa Cruz Black Salamander (Stebbins 1966)
Aneides flavipunctatus niger - Black Salamander (Stebbins 1954)
Aneides flavipunctatus - Black Salamander (Shasta Salamander)(Bishop 1943)
Autodax iecanus (Cope 1886)
Aneides iecanus (Cope 1886)
Plethodon flavipunctatus (Strauch 1870)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Protected from take with a sport fishing license in 2013 due to a special closure prohibiting the take of Black Salamanders from San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.
Taxonomy
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders Gray, 1850
Genus Aneides Climbing Salamanders Baird, 1849
Species flavipunctatus Black Salamander (Strauch, 1870)
Subspecies

niger Santa Cruz Black Salamander Myers and Maslin, 1948
Original Description
Aneides flavipunctatus - (Strauch, 1870) - Mem. Acad. Sci. St. Petersburg, Ser. 7, Vol. 16, No. 4, p. 71
Aneides flavipunctatus niger - Myers and Maslin, 1948 - Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, Vol. 61, p. 132

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Aneides: Greek - lacking form or shape
niger: Latin - black

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

Alternate Names
Aneides flavipunctatus - Black Salamander

Aneides niger (full species)

Related or Similar California Salamanders
Aneides flavipunctatus flavipunctatus - Speckled Black Salamander
Aneides lugubris - Arboreal Salamander
Aneides vagrans - Wandering Salamander
Aneides ferreus - Clouded Salamander

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 conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the August 2019 California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) Special Animals List and the CNDDB 2019 Endangered and Threatened Animals List, both of which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The status listings here might not be the most current. Check the CDFW CNDDB website to see if there are more current lists: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either CDFW CNDDB list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status, you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Since the July 2017 Special Animals List, this taxa has been shown as a full species: Aneides Niger - Santa Cruz Black Salamander.

Organization Status Listing  Notes
NatureServe Global Ranking G3

Vulnerable—At moderate risk of extinction due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors.

NatureServe State Ranking S3

Vulnerable—Vulnerable in the state due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation from the state.

U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife SSC Species of Special Concern
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN Not shown
 

Home Site Map About Us Identification Lists Maps Photos More Lists CA Snakes CA Lizards CA Turtles CA Salamanders CA Frogs
Contact Us Usage Resources Rattlesnakes Sounds Videos FieldHerping Yard Herps Behavior Herp Fun CA Regulations
Beyond CA All Herps


Return to the Top

 © 2000 -