Preserving the Habitat of the California Tiger Salamander

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   December 21, 2016
Preserving the Habitat of the California Tiger Salamander

Construction activities can be very disruptive to fauna and flora located on or near a construction site. Some of the most affected are small amphibians called salamanders.  

The San Francisco Bay Area has several species, one of which is endangered. The California tiger salamander is a large, stocky, terrestrial salamander with a broad, rounded snout. Adult males are about 20 centimeters (8 inches) long, females a little less than 18 centimeters (7 inches).

There are recovery plans in place, but we can do our part as well. The recovery plan for the tiger salamander says, “Amphibians in general are extremely sensitive to contaminants due to their highly permeable skin which can rapidly absorb pollutant substances. Sources of chemical pollution that may adversely affect Central California tiger salamanders include hydrocarbon and other contaminants from oil production and road runoff; the application of chemicals for agricultural production and urban/suburban landscape maintenance; increased nitrogen levels in aquatic habitats; and rodent and vector control programs.”

Laydown and staging areas, piles of wood, or other materials in contact with the ground create moist attractive environments for salamanders. Even cut-offs of wood tossed onto the ground for a few days can attract salamanders to crawl underneath. Be mindful of overspray of paint or hosing down chemicals or fuels into surrounding soils, pools of water, or storm drains. 

The primary cause of the decline of California tiger salamander populations is the loss and fragmentation of habitat from human activities and the encroachment of non-native predators. Federal, state and local laws have not prevented past and ongoing losses of habitat. All of the estimated seven genetic populations of this species have been significantly reduced because of urban and agricultural development, land conversion, and other human-caused factors. 

A typical salamander breeding population in a pond can drop to less than twenty breeding adults and/or recruiting juveniles in some years, making these local populations prone to extinction. 

Read additional information about the California tiger salamander at the US Fish and Wildlife conservation center website.