The California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) is endemic to California and occurs in three Distinct Population Segments (DPSs): one smaller DPS in Santa Barbara County and one in Sonoma County, and a larger DPS throughout central California (see Home Range and Critical Habitat map below).

The California tiger salamander requires seasonal or semi-permanent wetlands, such as vernal pools or livestock ponds, for breeding. Occupied habitat includes several breeding pools interspersed among large tracts of  grassland, oak woodland, or oak savanna that the species uses for dispersal and migration. After leaving the pool they are born in, California tiger salamanders spend the majority of there life in the surrounding upland habitat utilizing underground burrow networks created by California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi) and Botta’s pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae). Adults are rarely observed above ground, and leave the burrows in a mass migration during a few rainy nights a year to return to breeding pools, typically between November and April.

Federal Status

ENDANGERED – Sonoma County and Santa Barbara County DPSs

THREATENED – Central California DPS

California Status

THREATENED in California throughout its range.

Survey Protocol

Home Range and Critical Habitat

Map Data Source: California Wildlife Habitat Relationship (CWHR), USFWS Critical Habitat Data Portal

Photo credits: header (cropped) – John Cleckler (USFWS) on Flickr, featured image – John Claus on USFWS Flickr