Kern Canyon Slender Salamanders (California): These 5-inch-long brown salamanders with black sides and striking bronze and red patches on their backs live only in California’s lower Kern River Canyon. Their restricted range, coupled with ongoing threats of habitat destruction and degradation, leaves them extremely vulnerable to extinction. Known to be uncommon across their range and limited to small, isolated populations, these rare salamanders favor north-facing slopes and small, wooded tributary canyons. Those habitats provide periods of moisture and high humidity that allow the salamanders to emerge from their underground hideouts to forage among leaf debris, bark and loose rocks for a range of food that includes spiders, mites, earthworms and snails. Although nearly all their known populations occur on public lands administered by the Sequoia National Forest, they continue to be threatened by habitat destruction and degradation caused by cattle grazing, logging, mining, highway construction, hydroelectric development and firewood collecting.
Cascade Caverns Salamanders: Perfectly adapted to their wholly aquatic life, these pale, ghost-like salamanders with external gills and recessed eyes spend their entire lives in the darkened worlds of Texas cave springs. Since they breathe through external gills and their skin, these highly unique amphibians require clean, clear-flowing water with a high content of dissolved oxygen. Their health offers an important barometer on water quality. As the human population in Texas continues to soar, the salamanders are at risk from a wide range of environmental hazards. Increased groundwater withdrawals decrease flows into cave springs, resulting in greater temperature fluctuations. More and more pollutants, from pesticides and herbicides to fertilizers and household solvents, are showing up in surface and storm-water runoff that eventually finds its way into the underground springs where these salamanders have long thrived. The salamander is listed as threatened by the state of Texas, a status that prohibits collection but does nothing to prevent water loss and pollution, the biggest threats to the salamander.
Stop the Reptile and Amphibian Extinction Crisis
Photo credits: Kern Canyon slender salamander copyright Andreas Kettenburg; Cascade Caverns salamander copyright Nathan F. Bendik.
Read more: amphibians, animal welfare, animals, climate change, economy, endangered, endangered species, endangered species act, environment, environment & wildlife, environmental issues, frogs, global warming, habitat destruction, herpetofauna, herps, invasive species, lizards, politics, pollution, reptiles, salamanders, sea turtles, snakes, toads, tortoises, turtles, u.s. fish and wildlife service, USFWS, wildlife
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