Northern Pacific Coast

lexmiller

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My apologies. I had not reviewed the herping account policies regarding locality and such. I will repost with specifics deleted.

I took 6 kids from the ages of 9 to 4 years of age on a two day field herping expedition. We had a blast. We explored an ecosystem with cold creeks and redwoods. Very moist area even for summer time. Plus 3 of the 6 kids are from Las Vegas, Nevada(my niece and nephews) and therefore have never seen a salamander up close.

On day one we found an Ensatina which I believe to be a hybrid intergrade of the E.e.oregonesis X E.e.platenus. I have Pertersen's field guide and that's was the best fit according to the guide. I also believe I found 2 R. variegatus larva sharing a particularly slow part of a creek. Could have been just very young D. tenebrosus. To round out day one we found a B. attenuatus.

On day two we started off finding a definate E.e.picta and then another hybrid within 5 meters of it near some seepage. Then we explored another cold water creek and found about 7 D. tenebrosus larva throughout the day. I did find an interesting mix of sizes in one prime spot on the creek. I found 3 D. tenebrosus larva all about 5 inches in length co-habitating with 3 more that were only about 2 inches long.

Took pictures. Lots of learning on this trip.
 

lexmiller

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Forgot to add the pictures:


Please leave some feed back on what these are if I have misidentified them....thanks.
 

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taherman

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#2 looks like Aneides vagrans to me. Great finds! I'd love to head back to the west coast for some salamandering one of these years. Awesome critters.

Sorry to hear about your first post...
 

lexmiller

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I tend to agree with you on the A. vagrans. I have examined my photos more carefully and notice the square shaped toes. Although I thought A. vagrans were more prone to climbing rather than living under rotting logs(where I foudn this one). And the shape of the head IS different when compare to the other Ensatinas I found. WOW...A. vagrans is one of the speices I hadn't found up there yet. So cool to check that one off my list.

I also thought the color might not be vibrant enough for the E.e.picta...but I wasn't sure. Usually Ensatina that I ahve been finding in that spot are very bright colored.

Thanks for your feedback.
 

lexmiller

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I have more pictures on my blog:

The Amateur Biologist

Also a little better acount of the two day trip.
 

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I think your "Rhyacotriton" are Dicamptodon. The latter will tolerate much slower, much warmer, and much less water. Giants have the eyes much more lateral, well back on a long head. Torrents have tiny gills and vertically ...brief tails. Giants have larger, obvious gills and a much enlarged tail.

For Ensatina, a giveaway is the rounded tail with a constriction at the base. Aneides also has a more slender, vertical tail.. The shoulder spots can be misleading. In Humboldt County, both A.vagrans and A.ferreus occur, if memory serves, and precise locality might be the only way to make a good guess which you're dealing with.
 

lexmiller

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I think your "Rhyacotriton" are Dicamptodon. The latter will tolerate much slower, much warmer, and much less water. Giants have the eyes much more lateral, well back on a long head. Torrents have tiny gills and vertically ...brief tails. Giants have larger, obvious gills and a much enlarged tail.

For Ensatina, a giveaway is the rounded tail with a constriction at the base. Aneides also has a more slender, vertical tail.. The shoulder spots can be misleading. In Humboldt County, both A.vagrans and A.ferreus occur, if memory serves, and precise locality might be the only way to make a good guess which you're dealing with.

I am wanting to disagree with you on the R. variegatus...only because its one of those that I want to find....but I think you are right that it is a Dicamptodon. I just reviewed my field guide some more and I am positive its not R. variegatus. I wish I had taken a better picture.

As for the Aneides I use berkleymapper to find the species found in the "place not to be named" I am herping in. The only accounts are of the A. vagrans. I think I am too far "opposite of north" in the county for the latter species. HAHAHA! I hope these vague phrases keep me out of trouble.
 

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I've had the same issues with Rhyacotriton, but since I've found scores now of D.tenebrosus of all sizes, D.aterrimus, and D.copei; plus adults and juveniles of R.variegatus, R.cascadae, and R.kezeri, I feel even more confident on mental review. I do have photos of a great many of those, though digging them up, resizing, uploading, etc., would be a bit of a task. Basically, juvenile Rhyacotriton look just like adult Rhyacotriton, but the size of a YoY Plethodon. A larval torrent salamander would have neither the build nor the size of the animal you picture. I doubt you would EVER find them in such a pool of slow water, although giants will be found in cracks and crevices of streams which have virtually dried up. Seek shallow pools at the bases of small waterfalls or cliff-face seepages, or talus alongside fast and cold mountain creeks to find Rhyacotriton. Larvae will even be found buried in coarse sand/fine gravel at springheads. The water will always be COLD and moving. That means that searches over the peak of summer are likely to be less fruitful than those conducted in colder, wetter seasons. The trick is to avoid searching when streams are raging and fingers are blue! 8C-12C is ballpark for torrents, and 17C is normally lethal.
 

lexmiller

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Well...I am returning to my favorite spot at the end of this month so maybe I'll spot some R. variegatus. I need a good workout so my goal is to also find an adult Dicamptodon, so I'll be flipping the biggest logs in the woods. Thank goodness I am not only a future biology teacher, but also a powerlifter and strength coach. HAHAHAHA! I expect to find more vibrantly colored Ensatina(picta or others) like I had when I traveled there EARLY last spring. Finding Ambystoma gracile would finish out my salamander checklist. Finding the two varieties of Taricha would make my kiddos happy. For some reason they are their favorites. My nephew especially was distrought that we could not find any when we went out this summer.

I think I need to move to that area. I love the weather and the environmentally aware residents...I'm not a hippy by far, but I am a herp lover and that's the most biodiverse areas around California. PLUS: no rattlesnakes.
 
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