Western Tiger Salamander Prairie / Boreal population
Scientific Name: Ambystoma mavortium
Taxonomy Group: Amphibians
Range: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
Western Tiger Salamanders are among the largest salamanders in North America and are top predators in the largely fishless ponds and lakes where they occur. Terrestrial adults have a blotched, barred or reticulate pattern of yellow or off-white on a dark background. Genetic and morphological evidence indicates that the Western Tiger Salamander, consisting of several subspecies, is a separate species from the Eastern Tiger Salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum, with which it was previously combined as a single species. Much of the older literature does not necessarily distinguish the Western Tiger Salamander from the Eastern Tiger Salamander, as currently recognized.
This large salamander remains widely distributed in the Prairie provinces, but it faces numerous threats from habitat loss and fragmentation, fish stocking, and emerging diseases, such as the Ambystoma tigrinum virus that can decimate local populations. Salamander habitats are becoming increasingly fragmented by agricultural and oil and gas developments and associated infrastructures and roads. The disruption of migration routes, mortality through roadkill, and deterioration and loss of breeding and upland habitat for terrestrial adults and juveniles lead to concern for the species in a large part of its Canadian range.
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of the assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances). Given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”.
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species.
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 19
Data Deficient: 4
Not at Risk: 1
Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.
The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Endangered or Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 518 wildlife species at risk.
Please submit your comments by
March 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations
October 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.