A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

Siskiyou Mountains Salamander - Plethodon stormi

Highton and Brame, 1965
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Siskiyou Mountains Salamander California Range MapRange in California: Red

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Adult, Siskiyou County  Adult, Siskiyou County 
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Sub-adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County 
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  Adult, Siskiyou County   
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Juvenile, Siskiyou County  Adult in habitat, Siskiyou County 
© Spencer Riffle
Adult, Siskiyou County 
© Spencer Riffle
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Adult, Siskiyou County 
© Spencer Riffle
Adult, Siskiyou County 
© Spencer Riffle
Adult, Siskiyou County 
© Spencer Riffle
Siskiyou Mountains Salamander Habitat Siskiyou Mountains Salamander Habitat Siskiyou Mountains Salamander Habitat
Habitat, Siskiyou County
Habitat, Siskiyou County
Habitat, Siskiyou County
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Habitat, Siskiyou County Habitat, 2,600 ft., Siskiyou County  
Short Video
  Siskiyou Mountains Salamander  
  A rock is overturned exposing a
Siskiyou Mountains Salamander.
Adults measure 2 3/4 - 3 inches long (7 cm) from snout to vent, and 4 1/3 - 5 1/2 inches (14 cm) in total length.

A slender, elongated salamander with short limbs, nasolabial grooves, and usually 17 costal grooves with 4-5 intercostal folds between adpressed limbs.
Toes are short and slightly webbed.
Color and Pattern
Color is light brown to purplish brown above, with profuse whitish or yellow speckling overall, more concentrated on the limbs and sides.
May show a faint light brown stripe or none at all.
The belly is grayish purple with light flecks.
Juveniles are black with an olive-tan stripe and a dark venter.

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.)
Terrestrial, active on rainy or wet nights.
Activity period is probably limited to late winter and early spring, and possibly early fall, due to the summer dryness and winter freezing of the habitat.
These salamanders go deep underground during dry summer conditions, but they may emerge to feed on the surface on wet nights.
Recapture studies have shown that the sibling species P. elongatus moves very little in a single year - staying within a 7.5 square meter area, and it is thought that P. stormi has similar sedentary behavior.
Diet and Feeding
Eats small invertebrates, including spiders, mites, beetles, and moths.
A sit-and-wait predator, quickly jumping from a hiding spot to grab prey.
Little is known about breeding or reproduction in this species.
Reproduction is terrestrial.

With the similar allopatric species P. elongtus, mating occurs in the spring, with females laying eggs in rocky underground nests in spring or early summer and brooding them until they hatch in the fall.
Young develop completely in the egg, hatch fully formed and probably remain underground until the following spring.

Strongly associated with rocky forested areas, especially talus in older forests.
The largest populations are found in heavily wooded north-facing slopes with rocky talus.
Mostly found in talus slopes or rock crevices, but may move into the forest during very wet periods and reside beneath woody debris.

Geographical Range
Found in a very small area of the Siskiyou Mountains in extreme northern Siskiyou county and in the Applegate River drainage in southern Oregon.

Full Species Range Map
Elevational Range
Occurs at elevations of 1,600 - 3,500 ft. (488 -1078 m).

Notes on Taxonomy
P. stormi was first described in 1965.

Some herpetologists name this salamander P. e. stormi, a subspecies of P. elongatus, making the coastal form, the Del Norte Salamander, P. e. elongatus.

P. stormi was most likely separated from P. elongatus when glaciars separated inland populations from the coastal populations.

P. stormi may hybridize with P. elongatus on the southern side of the Siskiyou Mountains.

Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Plethodon stormi - Siskiyou Mountains Salamander (Stebbins & McGinnis 2012)
Plethodon elongatus stormi - Siskiyou Mountains Salamander (Stebbins 1985, 2003)
Plethodon elongatus - Del Norte Salamander (Storer 1925, Bishop 1943, Stebbins 1954, 1966)
Plethodon elongatus (Van Denburgh 1916)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Designated as a threatened species by the state due to limited range and fragile forest talus microhabitat which is easily destroyed.
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders Gray, 1850
Genus Plethodon Woodland Salamanders Tschudi, 1838

stormi Siskiyou Mountains Salamander Highton and Brame, 1965
Original Description
Highton and Brame, 1965 - Pilot Register of Zoology, Card No. 20, 1-2

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

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Plethodon: Greek - fullness or full of & teeth , refers to the number of vomerine & pre-vomerine teeth.
stormi: honors Robert M. Storm

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

Similar Neighboring Salamanders
Plethodon elongatus - Del Norte Salamander
Plethodon dunni - Dunn's Salamander
Plethodon asupak - Scott Bar Salamander

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife


Thelander, Carl G., editor in chief. Life on the Edge - A Guide to California's Endangered Natural Resources - Wildlife. Berkeley: Bio Systems Books, 1994.

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.

Corkran, Charlotte & Chris Thoms. Amphibians of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Lone Pine Publishing, 1996.

Jones, Lawrence L. C. , William P. Leonard, Deanna H. Olson, editors. Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Audubon Society, 2005.

Leonard et. al. Amphibians of Washington and Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society, 1993.

Nussbaum, R. A., E. D. Brodie Jr., and R. M. Storm. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. Moscow, Idaho: University Press of Idaho, 1983.

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:

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.

Organization Status Listing  Notes
NatureServe Global Ranking G3? Vulnerable?
NatureServe State Ranking S1S2 Critically Imperiled - Imperiled
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) ST Listed as Threatened 6/27/1971

The common name is spelled incorrectly in Title 14 of the CCR as “Siskiyou mountain salamander.” Was a State Candidate for Delisting on 20050930. No action was taken by the FGC after the CDFW presented a Department report on 20061103; SMS was tabled at the 20070503 FGC meeting, and there was nothing to report regarding the Department’s environmental documents at the 20071011 meeting. Therefore, with respect to Fish & Game Code 2075, it is assumed that this is no longer a candidate for delisting.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service S Sensitive
IUCN EN Endangered

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