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and Reptiles of California




Kern Plateau Slender Salamander - Batrachoseps robustus

Wake, Yanev, and Hansen, 2002
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Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Range Map
Range in California: Red

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Range Map of all Slender Salamanders in California




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Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Kern Plateau Slender Salamander
  Adult, Tulare County  
Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Kern Plateau Slender Salamander
  Adult, Tulare County  
Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Kern Plateau Slender Salamander
  Adult, Tulare County   Adult, Tulare County 
Kern Plateau Slender Salamander      
Adult, Tulare County       
       
Habitat
Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Habitat Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Habitat Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Habitat Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Habitat
Habitat, small creek in forest,
7,200 ft., Tulare County
Habitat, Tulare County Habitat, Tulare County Habitat, Tulare County
Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Habitat Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Habitat    
Habitat before burn, small stream, 6,500 ft., Tulare County © Tim Burkhardt Same 6,500 ft. Tulare County habitat after burn, with salamanders still persisting along the  edge of the stream.    
       
Short Video
     
Kern Plateau Slender Salamanders beside a small seep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.      
     
Description
 
Size
Adults are 1 3/4 - 2 1/4 inches long (4.4 - 5.7 cm) from snout to vent.

Appearance
A small slim salamander with 16 - 17 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.
Relatively large and robust when compared with most Slender Salamanders, having a fairly broad head, long legs, broad feet, short tail, and large toes.
There are four toes on the front and hind feet, which is also typical of Slender Salamanders.
(Other California salamanders have five toes on the hind feet.)
Color and Pattern
Color is rusty, bronze, gray, reddish, usually with a dorsal stripe and scattered flecks and spots.
The venter is gray or black in color.
The throat has heavy white mottling.
Animals from dryer habitats have lighter coloring of gray or silver, while those from coniferous forest tend to match the darker environment with red and brown coloring.

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
Little is known about this species.
Most Slender Salamander species are active on rainy or wet nights when temperatures are moderate, fall through spring, retreating underground when the soil dries or when air temperature drops to near freezing.
At higher elevations, activity may be restricted to spring and early summer and early fall. In areas with perrenial surface moisture, activity may continue through the summer.
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
Most likely eats a variety of small invertebrates.
Feeding behavior is not well known, but other Batrachoseps species are sit-and-wait predators that use a projectile tongue to catch prey.
Breeding
Little is known about the breeding behavior of this species.
Reproduction is terrestrial.
Breeding and egg-laying probably occurs during the rainy period from November to January.
Eggs
All species of Slender Salamanders lay eggs, typically in moist places on land.
Gravid females have been found in early May.
Females in a lab laid three eggs.
Eggs in the lab hatched in 96 - 103 days.
Young
Young develop completely in the egg and hatch fully formed.
Hatchlings were black with gold or silver flecking measuring about a half inch in length from snout to vent (12 - 13 mm).

Geographical and ElevatiRange
Endemic to California.
Occurs on the Kern Plateau of the southeastern Sierra Nevada in Kern County from 5,580 - 9,200 ft. (1,700 - 2,800 m), on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada draining into the Owens Valley and Indian Wells Valley in Inyo County, at elevations of 4,690 to 8,000 ft. (1,430–2,440 m) and the Scodie Mountains in Kern County at elevations of 6,500 - 6,640 ft. (1,980 - 2,025 m).

Habitat
Found in moist habitats of pine and fir forests, and pinon pine, sagebrush, and oaks in drier habitats.
Found under logs, bark, rocks, and other debris especially near springs, seeps and outflow streams.

Notes on Taxonomy
B. robustus was officially described in 2002. Specimens were first collected in 1972, but were misidentified as B. stebbensi.

DNA studies show that the more "robust" forms of Batrachoseps, B. robustus, B wrighti - Oregon Slender Salamander, and B. stebbinsi - Tehachapi Slender Salamander, are phylogenetically distant from other Batrachoseps species.

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


Names History

Batrachoseps robustus
- Kern Plateau Slender Salamander (Wake, Yanev, Hansen 2003, Stebbins 2003, 2012)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Listed as imperiled and near threatened. This is probably because its limited forested high-altitude riparian habitat makes it vulnerable to any alteration of the habitat. The populations in the Scodie mountains are small and isolated which makes them more vulnerable to habitat alteration.
Taxonomy
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders Gray, 1850
Genus Batrachoseps Slender Salamanders Bonaparte, 1841
Species

robustus Kern Plateau Slender Salamander Wake, Yanev, and Hansen, 2002
Original description
Wake, D.B., K.P. Yanev, and R.W. Hansen. - 1/13/2003. "New species of slender salamander, Genus Batrachoseps, from the southern Sierra Nevada of California." 2002 Copeia 4:1016-1028.

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Batrachoseps: Greek - amphibian, frog lizard - describes lizard-like appearance.
robustus: (probably Latin - (robust) referring to the large robust size.)

Alternate Names
None

Similar Neighboring Salamanders
Batrachoseps simatus
Batrachoseps relictus
Batrachoseps stebbinsi

Batrachoseps campi
Batrachoseps gregarious
Batrachoseps sp.
Fairview/Upper Kern Canyon
Breckenridge Mountain Batrachoseps

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

AmphibiaWebSalamander Diversity in the Kern Valley Region

Resources List

Wake, D.B., K.P. Yanev, and R.W. Hansen. - 1/13/2003. "New species of slender salamander, Genus Batrachoseps, from the southern Sierra Nevada of California." 2002 Copeia 4:1016-1028.

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, 2003


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 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 in the state due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer.
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 NT Near Threatened
 

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