Aneides ferreus - Cope, 1869
Clouded Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Aneides ferreus Cope, 1869 (TSN 173700)
French Common Names: salamandre pommelée
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102082
Element Code: AAAAD01020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Salamanders
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Caudata Plethodontidae Aneides
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B85FRO01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Aneides ferreus
Taxonomic Comments: Aneides vagrans formerly was included in this species (see Jackman 1998).

Mahoney (2001) used mtDNA data to examine phylogenetic relationships of western and eastern Plethodon and Aneides. She found strong support for eastern Plethodon as a clade, but monophyly of Aneides was only weakly supported in some analyses, though "the monophyly of this clade is not in doubt." Analyses indicated that Plethodon stormi and P. elongatus are clearly sister taxa, and P. dunni and P. vehiculum also are well-supported sister taxa. Plethodon larselli and P. vandykei appear to be closely related, whereas P. neomexicanus did not group with any other lineage. All analyses yielded a paraphyletic Plethodon but constraint analyses did not allow rejection of a monophyletic Plethodon. Mahoney recommended continued recognition of Aneides as a valid genus and adoption of the metataxon designation for Plethodon*, indicating this status with an asterisk. (A metataxon is a group of lineages for which neither monophyly nor paraphyly can be demonstrated.)
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 15May2013
Global Status Last Changed: 15May2013
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Occurs in coniferous forest/woodland in western Oregon and northern California; occurs in burned areas and tolerates a certain amount of logging; generally most common in forests where there are large decaying logs o the ground, but this resource is increasingly uncommon; current status is not well documented.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4 (15May2013)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States California (SNR), Oregon (S3S4)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Patchy distribution extends from Del Norte and Siskiyou counties, California, north through western Oregon to the Columbia River (Jackman 1998). Elevational range extends from sea level to around 1,650 meters (Stebbins 2003).

Area of Occupancy: 126-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Area of occupancy is not precisely known, but this species occurs in at least 126 grid cells measuring 2 km x 2 km. The number of occupied grid cells may not exceed 500.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: The number of distinct occurrences has not been determined using standardized criteria, but clearly this species is represented by a fairly large number of recently documented occurrences (subpopulations) and locations (as defined by IUCN).

Population Size: 10,000 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but undoubtedly exceeds 10,000.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some to many (13-125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Certainly more than a dozen occurrences have at least good viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species has declined in areas where intensive, short-rotation logging practices have resulted in increasing scarcity of coarse woody debris on the forest floor (Corn and Bury 1991, Butts and McComb 2000). These salamanders are thought to thrive initially after logging but then decline as stumps and logs decay and critical microhabitats are eliminated (Petranka 1998). However, they readily occupy disturbed areas, and recent observations suggest that the species is persisting in many areas and is not now of high conservation concern (R. B. Bury, pers. comm., 2013).

Climate change may render some habitat less suitable, but the scope and severity of this potential threat are uncertain.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain, but distribution and abundance probably have been relatively stable or slowly declining.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 10-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Area of occupancy and abundance probably have declined substantially as a result of forest management practices and urbanization, but the degree of decline is not precisely known.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) Patchy distribution extends from Del Norte and Siskiyou counties, California, north through western Oregon to the Columbia River (Jackman 1998). Elevational range extends from sea level to around 1,650 meters (Stebbins 2003).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CA, OR

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at

Range Map Compilers: IUCN, Conservation International, NatureServe, and collaborators, 2004

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
OR Coos (41011), Curry (41015), Douglas (41019), Jackson (41029), Josephine (41033), Lane (41039)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Middle Fork Willamette (17090001)+, Coast Fork Willamette (17090002)+, Upper Willamette (17090003)+, Mckenzie (17090004)+, Alsea (17100205)+, Siuslaw (17100206)+, North Umpqua (17100301)+, South Umpqua (17100302)+, Umpqua (17100303)+, Coos (17100304)+, Upper Rogue (17100307)+, Middle Rogue (17100308)+, Applegate (17100309)+, Lower Rogue (17100310)+, Illinois (17100311)+, Chetco (17100312)+
18 Smith (18010101)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A lungless salamander; maximum snout-vent length is about 65 mm.
Reproduction Comments: Lays clutch of 8-18 eggs in spring, probably also in early summer. Female probably guards eggs, but both sexes have been found at nest sites. Eggs hatch in about 60 days. Females lay eggs probably at 2-year intervals.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cliff, Forest - Conifer, Forest - Mixed, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris, Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Habitat includes moist coniferous forests (redwood, Douglas-fir, western hemlock, Port Orford cedar forests); in forest edge, forest clearings, talus, and burned over areas. Usually these salamanders are found under bark, in rotten logs, or in rock crevices. They may aggregate in moist decayed logs in summer when forest conditions become generally dry. Large (greater than 20 inches in diameter) down logs of mid-decay classes with sloughing bark provide the best microhabitats (Thomas et al. 1993). Sometimes clouded salamanders climb high into trees. Egg deposition occurs in cavities in rotten logs, in rock crevices, under bark, among vegetation, or in trees (e.g., see Welsh and Wilson 1995 for a record of an arboreal clutch in the closely related A. vagrans)..
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Opportunistic. Feeds on small arthropods (e.g., beetles, ants, isopods, spiders, and mites) (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Inactive in cold temperatures and hot, dry weather.
Length: 13 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Protection of mature and old growth forests with adequate coarse woody debris is the most important long-term conservation need. This species will benefit from existing/proposed conservation measures for spotted owl and marbled murrelet (Thomas et al. 1993).

Better information is needed on current area of occupancy, abundance, and trend.

Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Terrestrial Plethodontid Salamanders

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway, especially with high traffic volume at night; major river or lake; other totally inappropriate habitat that the salamanders cannot traverse.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 3 km
Separation Justification: These salamanders rarely successfully cross roadways that have heavy traffic volume at night, when most movements occur. Rivers and lakes pose formidable impediments to movement and generally function as barriers, with the effect increasing with river and lake size. Treatment of these as barriers or unsuitable habitat is a subjective determination.

Compared to larger ambystomatid salamanders, the movements of plethodontids are poorly documented, but it is clear that home ranges tend to be very small (e.g., Marvin 2001), on the order of a few meters to a few dozen meters in diameter. For example, Welsh and Lind (1992) found that over six months, 66% of Plethodon elongatus males and 80% of females recaptured were in the same 7.5 x 7.5 m grid, and the maximum distance moved was 36.2 m. D. Clayton (pers. comm 1998) estimated that average home ranges may be as small as one square meter. Yet, on occasion, dispersing plethodontids likely travel at least several hundred meters. The separation distance for unsuitable habitat reflects the nominal minimum value of 1 km. The separation distance for suitable habitat reflects the limited movements of these salamanders, tempered by their tendency to occur throughout patches of suitable habitat and the likely low probability that two locations separated by a gap of less than a few kilometers of suitable habitat would represent independent occurrences over the long term.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 15May2013
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 15May2013
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Beatty, J. J. 1979. Morphological variation in the clouded salamander, Aneides ferreus (Cope) (Amphibia: Caudata: Plethodontidae). Ph.D. dissertation. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 719 pp.

  • Blackburn, L., P. Nanjappa, and M. J. Lannoo. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Copyright, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA.

  • Butts, S. R., and W. C. McComb. 2000. Associations of forest-floor vertebrates with coarse woody debris in managed forests of western Oregon. Journal of Wildlife Management 64:95-104.

  • Corkran, C. C., and C. Thoms. 1996. Amphibians of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Alberta. 175 pp.

  • Corn, P. S., and R. B. Bury. 1991. Terrestrial amphibian communities in the Oregon Coast Range. Pages 3-4-317 in L. F. Ruggerio, K. B. Aubry, and M. H. Huff, technical coordinators. Wildlife and vegetation of unmanaged Douglas-fir forests. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Olympia, Washington, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285.

  • Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.

  • Jackman, T. R. 1998. Molecular and historical evidence for the introduction of clouded salamanders (genus Aneides) to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, from California. Canadian Journal of Zoology 76:1570-1580.

  • Leonard, W. P., H. A. Brown, L. L. C. Jones, K. R. McAllister, and R. M. Storm. 1993. Amphibians of Washington and Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. viii + 168 pp.

  • Mahoney, M. J. 2001. Molecular systematics of Plethodon and Aneides (Caudata: Plethodontini): phylogenetic analysis of an old and rapid radiation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 18:174-188.

  • McKenzie, D.S. and R.M. Storm. 1970. Patterns of habitat selection in the clouded salamander, Aneides ferreus (Cope). Herpetologica 26(4):450-454.

  • Nussbaum, R.A., E.D. Brodie, Jr., and R.M. Storm. 1983. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. University Press of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho. 332 pp.

  • Staub, N. L., and D. B. Wake. 2005. Aneides ferreus Cope, 1869. Clouded salamander. Pages 658-660 in M. Lannoo, editor. Amphibian declines: the conservation status of United States species. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 1985a. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. xiv + 336 pp.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 2003. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

  • Thomas, J. W., Ward, J., Raphael, M.G., Anthony, R.G., Forsman, E.D., Gunderson, A.G., Holthausen, R.S., Marcot, B.G., Reeves, G.H., Sedell, J.R. and Solis, D.M. 1993. Viability assessments and management considerations for species associated with late-successional and old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. The report of the Scientific Analysis Team. USDA Forest Service, Spotted Owl EIS Team, Portland Oregon. 530 pp.

  • Wake, D. 1965. Aneides ferreus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 16:1-2.

  • Welsh, H. W., Jr., and R. A. Wilson. 1995. Aneides ferreus (clouded salamander). Reproduction. Herpetological Review 26:196-197.

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