Species Profile

Wandering Salamander

Scientific Name: Aneides vagrans
Taxonomy Group: Amphibians
Range: British Columbia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2014
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.


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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

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Description

The Wandering Salamander (Aneides vagrans) is a terrestrial salamander of the family Plethodontidae, the "lungless" salamanders. It was separated from the Clouded Salamander (A. ferreus) in 1998 based on genetic evidence. A typical adult weighs 2 – 5 g and measures 75 – 120 mm in total length (including tail). The amount of grey and bronze mottling on the back varies with age. Relatively long legs and squared-off toe tips are thought to be adaptations for climbing trees. (Updated 2017/08/04)

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Distribution and Population

The Wandering Salamander has a small global range split between coastal parts of northwestern California and extreme southwestern British Columbia. It is absent from intervening areas in Washington and Oregon. Its Canadian distribution is largely restricted to low-elevation forests on Vancouver Island and adjacent small offshore islands; there is one locality on the Sunshine Coast on mainland British Columbia. Approximately 60% of the species’ global range is in Canada. Genetic similarities link populations on southern Vancouver Island with those from Humboldt County, California. The most likely explanation for this disjunct distribution is dispersal from California via natural log-rafting on north-flowing ocean currents. Other possibilities have been suggested, including glacial refugia on the west coast of Vancouver Island or inadvertent introduced to Vancouver Island in the late 1800s in shipments of Tanoak bark. (Updated 2017/08/04)

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Habitat

The Wandering Salamander depends on cutaneous respiration. As a result, it is restricted to moist microhabitats. The salamanders are primarily found under bark and/or within cavities and cracks of decaying wood. Females lay eggs within large (50 cm or more in diameter), moderately decayed logs. Where suitable downed wood or rubble/talus is available, the salamanders can persist in logged areas, edges of forests, or even residential yards, but they are most abundant in mature and old coniferous forest stands. Wandering Salamanders live in trees as well as on the ground. They have been recorded from a height of 57 m in the canopy of a Sitka Spruce tree on Vancouver Island. Habitat quality for the species has deteriorated over the past 30 years. Clearcut logging has altered 20 to 26% of the forests within the range of the Wandering Salamander on Vancouver Island. The construction of the new Island Highway has displaced salamanders and fragmented the species’ habitat. (Updated 2017/08/04)

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Biology

The female lays a small clutch of 3 – 28 eggs in late spring or summer and attends to her eggs until they hatch in late summer or early fall. Young undergo direct development and emerge from nests as independent juveniles. They take at least 3 years to reach sexual maturity. Females reproduce every other year or less often. The average age of adults (generation time) is approximately 8 – 11 years. Individual salamanders may live up to 20 years. (Updated 2017/08/04)

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Threats

Across their Canadian range, Wandering Salamanders are threatened by logging, which continues to alter and fragment habitats across Vancouver Island, and severe and prolonged droughts predicted to become more common under climate change scenarios. In addition, residential and other human developments threaten local populations, and tsunami events could eliminate some populations in low-lying coastal areas. About 80% of the species’ range is within actively managed forest, and at least 55 sites are threatened by logging. There are 25 occupied sites in the Coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone, which is subject to severe droughts and habitat alteration under climate change. Low reproductive rate, poor dispersal ability, and specific habitat requirements of the salamanders contribute to their vulnerability to perturbations. (Updated 2017/08/04)

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Protection

Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

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.

6 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Wandering Salamander Aneides vagrans in Canada (2015)

    The Wandering Salamander (Aneides vagrans) is a terrestrial salamander of the family Plethodontidae, the "lungless" salamanders. It was separated from the Clouded Salamander (A. ferreus) in 1998 based on genetic evidence. A typical adult weighs 2 – 5 g and measures 75 – 120 mm in total length (including tail). The amount of grey and bronze mottling on the back varies with age. Relatively long legs and squared-off toe tips are thought to be adaptations for climbing trees.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Wandering Salamander (2015)

    The Canadian distribution of this terrestrial salamander is restricted mainly to low elevation forests on Vancouver Island and adjacent small offshore islands in southwestern British Columbia. These salamanders depend on the availability of moist refuges and large diameter logs on the forest floor, as found in intact forests. The salamanders are threatened by logging, residential development, and severe droughts, and storm events predicted under climate change. Low reproductive rate, poor dispersal ability, and specific habitat requirements contribute to the vulnerability of the species.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2017)

    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.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2017)

    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.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2013-2014 (2014)

    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, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 0 Endangered: 23 Threatened: 12 Special Concern: 20 Data Deficient: 0 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act : Terrestrial Species - January 2015 (2015)

    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. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments byApril 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website