Ecology of California Tiger Salamander

Ecology of California Tiger Salamander program image

A knowledge-building workshop on the biology and conservation tiger salamander with skills-building field training in prime CTS habitat.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019
8:00 AM - 3:30 PM
Elkhorn Slough Reserve
Lunch will be provided

COST: $490.00
Payable by check to Elkhorn Slough Foundation
Payable by credit card (online)


Instructor Information

Dr. Chris Searcy
Associate Professor of Conservation Ecology
University of Miami

Dr. Peter Trenham
Independent Consultant


Grant Lyon



See also: California Tiger Salamander, Habitat Restoration

Workshop description


Pete Trenham, Ph.D. and Chris Searcy, Ph.D. will present this workshop on the biology and conservation of the California tiger salamander (CTS) at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Dr. Trenham has published a variety of papers on the ecology and life history of the California tiger salamander and has taught this popular workshop on several occasions. Dr. Searcy has authored nine published papers on California tiger salamanders and recently began a new study on “Terrestrial habitat use by endangered Santa Barbara tiger salamanders” funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


The classroom portion of this workshop includes digital presentations by both presenters on the identification, life history, movements, conservation, and management of the California tiger salamander. Presentations will be interspersed with discussion and small group exercises.


The field portion of the workshop will include hands-on training on habitat assessment and survey techniques as well as in situ discussion about habitat management. Although the class normally encounters CTS and participants are able to handle the species, we cannot guarantee handling or pond sampling experience due to the stochastic nature of planet Earth’s biota as well as potential for failure of human systems beyond our control. Participants will need their own field equipment including dip net and waders (preferably chest waders with no holes) to practice sampling methodology.


The workshop fee of $490 includes a classroom session on May 22, 8:00-3:30, at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, and enrollment in one of two training sessions either May 22, 4:30-8:30 (directly after the workshop portion) or May 23, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm, at the Dorrance Ranch, outside of Salinas. Fee also includes coffee, lunch, refreshments, and handouts. 


Workshop objectives


Increase participant understanding of:


  • the biology of California tiger salamanders;
  • habitat management for this species, and;
  • how to apply information in large-scale and local conservation planning efforts. 


Improve these participant skills:


  • species identification;
  • aquatic habitat sampling techniques, and;
  • upland and aquatic site assessment.


Topics addressed


  • geographic distribution of California tiger salamanders and hybrid populations;
  • aquatic habitats and their management;
  • individual organism movement patterns;
  • population and community ecology;
  • survey methods, and;
  • methods for assessing potential project impacts and approaches for avoidance and minimization.


Field training practicum


Participants will receive skills-based training in species identification, sampling techniques, and habitat requirements of the California tiger salamander.  Pete and Chris will lead participants through a hands-on skill building exercises for conserving the species.


***Important information***


It is important to note that no component of this workshop should be construed to apply to attendees’ ability to obtain permits related to the CTS; if you are interested in how workshop activities might be used for permitting, you are encouraged to contact your agency permitting representative.


After you register, please email Grant Lyon (grant@elkhornslough.org) your preference for the field training practicum date.  While we cannot guarantee your preference, we will do what we can to meet your desires.  Due to agency permitting issues, we must limit the student:teacher ratio for each of the field training sessions, so we have to make sometimes difficult decisions in breaking the group into two.  We will notify you of your assigned field practicum date by May 2.


Registration details


Please note -you can pre-register via this website, but your registration will not be finalized until we receive your registration fee of $490. Payment can be either in the form of a credit card (locate link on this webpage) or a check made payable to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and sent to:


Elkhorn Slough Foundation

ATTN: Coastal Training Program

1700 Elkhorn Road

Watsonville, CA 95076


Deadline for payment is 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, 2019.  If we have not received your payment at that time, your place may be forfeit to someone on our waiting list. 


We will refund cancellations prior to May 1 minus a $50 processing fee; we cannot refund any fees after that date. We reserve the right to cancel the workshop prior to May 3, 2019; in that event, we will give full refunds.


We ask you not to cancel after the registration deadline; if you sign up, please show up so as to not waste valuable resources. Repeated failure to adhere to these policies may jeopardize a person’s future ability to enroll in our programs.


We do not allow third party registration- register only yourself!  Registration is email sensitive; registering others frequently results in cancellation, missed communication, and other issues.


Because large, wealthy organizations have in the past reserved large blocks of seats, excluding others from attending, only to cancel those reservations, we do not allow registration 'trading,' even to persons within the same organization.


Please let us know as soon as you know if you have registered and cannot attend as there is usually an extensive waiting list for our trainings and we use substantial funds to subsidize workshop expenses, helping to make them more affordable.

Documents and Publications

Contact List
We encourage participants to download the contact list to assist with arranging a rideshare or to get in contact with someone you met at the workshop. Those interested in sharing a ride to the event are marked on the contact list.

Read Me: Important Preparation Guidelines for CTS Field Practica
Dan Brumbaugh
Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program
Supplemental Materials, Including Bibliography: California Tiger Salamander Workshop
PDF, 220KB
Chris Searcy And Pete Trenham
Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program
May 2023
A comparison of the food habits of Ambystoma macrodactylum sigillatum, Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum, and Ambystoma tigrinum californiense
PDF, 388KB
James D. Anderson
Herpetologica 24(4):273-284
Alternative forms for genomic clines
PDF, 3.4MB
Benjamin M. Fitzpatrick
Ecology and Evolution 3(7):1951-1966
Amphibian Upland Habitat Use & Its Consequences for Population Viability
PDF, 197KB
Peter C. Trenham & H. Bradley Shaffer
Ecological Applications 15(4):1158-1168
Assessing Suitability for Conservation Action: Prioritizing Interpond Linkages for the California Tiger Salamander
PDF, 396KB
Christopher R. Pyke
Conservation Biology, 19(2):492-503
Calculating Biologically Accurate Mitigation Credits: Insights from the California Tiger Salamander
PDF, 415KB
Christopher Searcy and Bradley Shaffer
Conservation Biology 22(4):997-1005
Can California Ranchers Save The Tiger Salamander?
PDF, 134KB
Erik Stokstad
Science 305:1554
September 10, 2004
Cattle Grazing Mediates Climate Change Impacts in Ephemeral Wetlands
PDF, 186KB
Christopher Pyke and Jaymee Marty
Conservation Biology, 19(5):1619-1625
Data on the Life History of Ambystoma tigrinum californiense Gray
PDF, 142KB
Victor C. Twitty
Copeia, No. 1:1-4
Delayed life history effects, multilevel selection, and evolutionary trade-offs in the California tiger salamander
PDF, 2.4MB
Christopher A. Searcy, Levi N. Gray, Peter C. Trenham, and H. Bradley Shaffer
Ecology, 95(1):68-77
Demography and breeding phenology of the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in an urban landscape
PDF, 1.4MB
David G. Cook, Peter C. Trenham, and Philip T. Northen
Northwestern Naturalist 87:215-224
Distribution of Migrating Adults Related to the Location of Remnant Grassland around an Urban California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense) Breeding Pool
PDF, 341KB
Peter C. Trenham and David G. Cook
Urban Herpetology, Herpetological Conservation, Mitchell, J.C., and R.E. Jung Brown (Eds.). Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Ecosystem Services are Social–ecological Services in a Traditional Pastoral System: the Case of California’s Mediterranean Rangelands
PDF, 1.4MB
Lynn Huntsinger and Jose L. Oviedo
Ecology and Society, 19 (1):8
Effective population size is strongly correlated with breeding pond size in the endangered California tiger salamander, Ambystoma californiense
PDF, 500KB
Ian J. Wang, Jarrett R. Johnson, Benjamin B. Johnson, H. Bradley Shaffer
Conserv Genet 12:911-920
Effects of Cattle Grazing on Diversity in Ephemeral Wetlands
PDF, 189KB
Jaymee T. Marty
Conservation Biology, 19(5):1626-1632
Effects of tail-clipping on survivorship and growth of larval salamanders
PDF, 414KB
Rebecca L. Polich, Christopher A. Searcy, and H. Bradley Shaffer
The Journal of Wildlife Management 77(7):1420-1425
Environment-dependent admixture dynamics in a tiger salamander hybrid zone
PDF, 2.7MB
Benjamin M. Fitzpatrick and H. Bradley Shaffer
Evolution, 58(6):1282-1293
Exploring the Status of Population Genetics: The Role of Ecology
PDF, 232KB
Roberta L. Millstein
Biol Theory 7:346-357
Habitat Use and Migration Behavior of the California Tiger Salamander
PDF, 134KB
Ivette Loredo, Dirk Van Vuren, and Michael L. Morrison
Journal of Herpetology, 30(2):282-285
Hybrid vigor between native and introduced salamanders raises new challenges for conservation
PDF, 370KB
Benjamin M. Fitzpatrick and H. Bradley Shaffer
Pnas, 104(40):15793-15797
Hybridization Between a Rare, Native Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and its Introduced Congener
PDF, 310KB
Seth P. D. Riley, H. Bradley Shaffer, S. Randal Voss, & Benjamin M. Fitzpatrick
Ecological Applications 13(5):1263-1275
Introduction history and habitat variation explain the landscape genetics of hybrid tiger salamanders
PDF, 2.3MB
Benjamin M. Fitzpatrick and H. Bradley Shaffer
Ecological Applications, 17(2):598-608
Invasive hybrid tiger salamander genotypes impact native amphibian
Maureen E. Ryan, Jarrett R. Johnson, and Benjamin Fitzpatrick
Pnas, 106(27):11166-11171
Landscape genetics and least-cost path analysis reveal unexpected dispersal routes in the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
PDF, 3.4MB
Ian J. Wang, Wesley K. Savage, and H. Bradley Shaffer
Molecular Ecology 18:1365-1374
Late summer movement and mass mortality in the California tiger salamander
PDF, 561KB
Dan C. Holland, Marc P. Hayes, and Eben McMillian
The Southwestern Naturalist, 35(2):217-220
Lethal Effects of Water Quality on Threatened California Salamanders but Not on Co-Occurring Hybrid Salamanders
PDF, 575KB
Maureen E. Ryan, Jarrett R. Johnson, Benjamin M. Fitzpatrick, Linda J. Lowenstine, Angela M. Picco, and H. Bradley Shaffer
Conservation Biology, 27(1):95-102
Life History and Demographic Variation in the California Tiger Salamander
PDF, 101KB
Peter C. Trenham, H. Bradley Shaffer, Walter D. Koenig, and Mark R. Stromberg
Copeia 2:365-377
Microhabitat use and migration distance of an endangered grassland amphibian
PDF, 475KB
Christopher A. Searcy, Emilio Gabbai-Saldate, and H. Bradley Shaffer
Biological Conservation 158:80-87
Movement Patterns and Migration Distances in an Upland Population of California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
PDF, 1.1MB
Susan G. Orloff
Herpetological Conservation and Biology 6(2):266-276
Parallel tagged amplicon sequencing reveals major lineages and phylogenetic structure in the North American tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) species complex
PDF, 2.8MB
Eric M. O'Neill, Rachel Schwartz, C. Thomas Bullock, Joshua S. Williams, H. Bradley Shaffer, X. Aguilar-Miguel, Gabriela Parra-Olea, and David W. Weisrock
Molecular Ecology, 22(1):111-129
Rapid spread of invasive genes into a threatened native species
PDF, 622KB
Benjamin M. Fitzpatrick, Jarrett R. Johnson, D. Kevin Kump, Jeramiah J. Smith, S. Randal Voss, and H. Bradley Shaffer
Pnas 107(8):3606-3610
Reproductive Ecology of a Population of the California Tiger Salamander
PDF, 238KB
Ivette Loredo and Dirk Van Vuren
Copeia, 4:895-901
Retention of low-fitness genotypes over six decades of admixture between native and introduced tiger salamanders
PDF, 397KB
Jarrett R. Johnson, Benjamin M. Fitzpatrick, and H Bradley Shaffer
BMC Evolutionary Biology 10:147
Short pond hydroperiod decreases fitness of nonnative hybrid salamanders in California
PDF, 619KB
J. R. Johnson, M. E. Ryan, S. J. Micheletti, and H. B. Shaffer
Animal Conservation 16:556-565
Short- , medium- , and long-term repeatability of locomotor performance in the tiger salamander Ambystoma californiense
PDF, 999KB
C. C. Austin and H. B. Shaffer
Functional Ecology 6:145-153
Spatial Tests of the Pesticide Drift, Habitat Destruction, UV-B, and Climate-Change Hypotheses for California Amphibian Declines
PDF, 2.8MB
Carlos Davidson, H. Bradley Shaffer, and Mark R. Jennings
Conservation Biology, 16(6):1588-1601
Spatially Autocorrelated Demography and Interpond Dispersal In The Salamander Ambystoma californiense
PDF, 339KB
Peter C. Trenham, Walter D. Koenig and H. Bradley Shaffer
Ecology, 82(12):3519-3530
Susceptibility of the Endangered California Tiger Salamander, Ambystoma californiense, to Ranavirus Infection
PDF, 167KB
Angela M. Picco, Jesse L. Brunner, and James P. Collins
Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 43(2):286-290
Sympatry in California tiger salamander and Californa red-legged frog breeding habitat within their overlapping range
PDF, 145KB
Jeff A. Alvarez, Mary A. Shea, Jeffery T. Wilcox, Mark L.. Allaback, Sarah M. Foster, Gretchen E. Padgett-Flohr, and Jennifer L. Haire
California Fish and Game 99(1):42-48
Terrestrial distribution of pond-breeding salamanders around an isolated wetland
PDF, 357KB
David E. Scott, Mark J. Komoroski, Dean A. Croshaw, and Philip M. Dixon
Ecology, 94(11):2537-2546
Terrestrial habitat use by adult California tiger salamanders
PDF, 666KB
Peter C. Trenham
Journal of Herpetology, 35(2):343-346
The Decline of Amphibians in California's Great Central Valley
PDF, 1.8MB
Robert N. Fisher and H. Bradley Shaffer
Conservation Biology 10(5):1387-1397
The effectiveness of pond-breeding salamanders as agents of larval mosquito control
PDF, 150KB
Robert Brodman Ryan Dorton
Journal of Freshwater Ecology 21(3):467-474
The Effects of Livestock on California Ground Squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyii)
PDF, 209KB
Jeffrey S. Fehmi, Sabrina E. Russo, James W. Bartolome
Rangeland Ecology and Management 58:352-359
July 2005
The molecular phylogenetics of endangerment: cryptic variation and historical phylogeography of the California tiger salamander, Ambystoma californiense
PDF, 317KB
H. Bradley Shaffer, Gregory B. Pauly, Jeffrey C. Oliver, and Peter C. Trenham
Molecular Ecology 13:3033-3049
The origin of tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) populations in California, Oregon, and Nevada: introductions or relicts?
PDF, 544KB
Jarrett R. Johnson, Robert C. Thomson, Steven J. Micheletti, and H. Bradley Shaffer
Conserv Genet 12:355-370
The polytypic species revisited: genetic differentiation and molecular phylogenetics of the tiger salamander Ambystoma tigrinum (Amphibia: Caudata) complex
PDF, 2.8MB
H. Bradley Shaffer; Mark L. McKnight
Evolution, 50(1):417-433
Feb. 1996
The Status of the California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense) at Lagunita:A 50-year Update
PDF, 188KB
Sean J. Barry and H. Bradley Shaffer
Journal of Herpetology, 28(2):159-164
Ambystoma californiense Gray, 1853, California tiger salamander
Shaffer, H. B., and P. C. Trenham
M. Lannoo, editor. Amphibian Declines - The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, Berkeley
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Threatened Status for the California Tiger Salamander; and Special Rule Exemption for Existing Routine Ranching Activities
PDF, 323KB
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 149, 47212-47248
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Emergency Rule To List the Santa Barbara County Distinct Population of the California Tiger Salamander as Endangered
PDF, 299KB
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Federal Register, Vol. 65, No. 12, 3096-3109
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule To List the Santa Barbara County Distinct Population of the California Tiger Salamander as Endangered
PDF, 338KB
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Federal Register, Vol. 65, No. 184, 57242-57264
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California Tiger Salamander as Endangered
PDF, 164KB
United State Fish and Wildlife Service
Federal Register, Vol. 67, No. 140, 47758-47760
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposal To List the Santa Barbara County Distinct Population of the California Tiger Salamander as Endangered
PDF, 244KB
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Federal Register, Vol. 65, No. 12, 3110-3111
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Recycled Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
PDF, 288KB
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Federal Register, Vol. 67, No. 114, 40657-40679
Great Valley Vernal Pool Distribution, Photorevised 1996
Robert F. Holland
Pages 71-75 in: C.W. Witham, E.T. Bauder, D. Belk, W.R. Ferren Jr., and R. Ornduff (Editors). Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Vernal Pool Ecosystems – Proceedings from a 1996 Conference. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA
Report to the Fish and Game Commission: A Status Review of the California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
PDF, 7.3MB
California Department of Fish and Game
California Department of Fish and Game
January 2010


California Herps

Interim Guidance on Site Assessment and Field Surveys for Determining Presence or a Negative Finding of the California Tiger Salamander

Shaffer lab publications, including on CTS

Questions and Answers

Submit a question on this subject and we'll provide an answer. coastaltraining@elkhornslough.org