Dicamptodon copei - Nussbaum, 1970
Cope's Giant Salamander
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Dicamptodon copei Nussbaum, 1970 (TSN 173742)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101509
Element Code: AAAAH01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Salamanders
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Caudata Dicamptodontidae Dicamptodon
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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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: Dicamptodon copei
Taxonomic Comments: In geographic contact with D. TENEBROSUS in northern Oregon, but no hybridization occurs; see Good (1989) for information on relationships among DICAMPTODON species.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 29Mar2002
Global Status Last Changed: 25Oct2001
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Small range in Washington and northwestern Oregon; many occurrences; stable to slightly declining; the biggest threat is posed by increased stream temperatures and siltation resulting from logging.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4 (25Oct2001)

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 Oregon (S2), Washington (S3S4)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Olympic Peninsula, Washington, south through the southern Cascades and Willapa Hills to streams that drain into the Columbia River Gorge in northwestern Oregon (Nussbaum 1983, Stebbins 1985 and southeastward to Wasco County, Oregon, east of the Cascade crest (Jones and Corkran 2002). From near sea level to about 975 m (Leonard et al. 1993).

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: Possibly over 100 occurrences in Washington, 70% excellent to good (J. Fleckenstein, pers. comm., 1997). Fewer than 6 occurrences in Oregon (Oregon heritage program).

Population Size: 2500 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but likely exceeds a few thousand.

Overall Threat Impact: Unknown
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Logging is the biggest threat; logging could increase water temperatures to unsuitably high levels and result in siltation, which may detrimentally affect food resources.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend is poorly known. Declining to stable in Oregon (Mark Stern, pers. comm., 1997). Probably stable for the past 20 years in Washington (J. Fleckenstein, pers. comm., 1997).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, probably less than 25% decline in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Survey historical sites to determine population trend.

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) Olympic Peninsula, Washington, south through the southern Cascades and Willapa Hills to streams that drain into the Columbia River Gorge in northwestern Oregon (Nussbaum 1983, Stebbins 1985 and southeastward to Wasco County, Oregon, east of the Cascade crest (Jones and Corkran 2002). From near sea level to about 975 m (Leonard et al. 1993).

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: endemic to a single nation

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

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 www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

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


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
OR Clackamas (41005), Clatsop (41007), Hood River (41027), Multnomah (41051), Wasco (41065), Washington (41067)
WA Clallam (53009)+, Clark (53011)+, Cowlitz (53015)+, Grays Harbor (53027)+, Jefferson (53031)+, Lewis (53041)+, Mason (53045)+, Pacific (53049)+, Skamania (53059)+, Wahkiakum (53069)+
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Middle Columbia-Hood (17070105)+, Lower Deschutes (17070306)+, Lower Columbia-Sandy (17080001)+, Lewis (17080002), Lower Columbia-Clatskanie (17080003), Upper Cowlitz (17080004), Lower Cowlitz (17080005), Lower Columbia (17080006)+, Clackamas (17090011)+, Hoh-Quillayute (17100101), Queets-Quinault (17100102), Upper Chehalis (17100103), Lower Chehalis (17100104), Grays Harbor (17100105), Willapa Bay (17100106), Nehalem (17100202)+, Nisqually (17110015), Skokomish (17110017), Crescent-Hoko (17110021)
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: An aquatic salamander that rarely reaches the adult stage.
Reproduction Comments: Apparently breeding and egg laying occur throughout spring, summer, and fall. Female guards eggs until they hatch. Clutch size is 25-115 (average 50, Nussbaum et al. 1983). Paedomorphic; few metamorphosed individuals have been found (Jones and Corn 1989).
Ecology Comments: The 1980 eruption of Mt. St.Helens eliminated some habitat. Predators: garter snakes, large larvae of DICAMPTODON, water shrews.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, MEDIUM RIVER, Pool, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Streams and rivers in moist coniferous forests (water temperatures usually range from 8 to 14 C) (Nussbaum et al. 1983). Sometimes found in clear, cold mountain lakes and ponds. Sometimes occurs on land along water courses (Jones and Corn 1989). Lays eggs in streams on the underside of rocks (Steele et al. 2003) or in chambers under stones, cutbanks, or logs (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Feeds on a wide variety of aquatic organisms including: immature insects, fish eggs, small fish, frog's eggs and tadpoles. May eat its own larvae as well as the larvae of D. TENEBROSUS (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Length: 19 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Dicamptodontid (Pacific Giant) 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 larvae or eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Heavily traveled road, such that salamanders almost never successfully traverse the road; road with a barrier that is impermeable to salamanders; large impoundment or lake containing predatory fishes; areas of intensive development dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Metamorphosed adults readily traverse natural and seminatural upland habitats during wet weather. McComb et al. (1993) found that adult D. tenebrosus typically are within 50 m of a stream but sometimes range up to 400 m away. Radio-tracked D. tenebrosus traveled up to 305 m from their capture site between July and October (Johnston 1998). Other Dicamptodon (except aquatic D. copei) likely behave similarly. D. copei is very rarely found in the metamorphosed stage and is unlikely to travel more than a few feet from a stream or lake edge (Corkran and Thoms 1996, Nussbaum 1983).

Ferguson (1998) found that larvae are relatively sedentary, with the majority of individuals moving less than 50 m between July and October. Based on patterns of recolonization of small (25-40 m) zones from which larvae were removed, local reproduction appeared to be a more effective mechanism of repopulating an area than larval immigration (Ferguson 2000). Full population recovery occurred within one year in one of four depopulated sites; data indicated that recolonization of a 400-m-long stream segment, such as might be depopulated as a result of logging, could take 8-55 years based on documented dispersal rates (optimistically assuming no decline in habitat suitability) (Ferguson 2000). However, Ferguson's larval study encompassed only about 15 months whereas the time frame for effective dispersal of these long-lived salamanders should be several years. Also, periodic flooding seemingly would facilitate long-distance dispersal of larvae, and adult movements (which might encompass several hundred meters annually) likely promote siginificant upstream dispersal.

Although dispersal appears to be somewhat slow, it is likely that occupied sites within several kilometers of each other and joined by suitable habitat are part of the same population.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 29Mar2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and M. Clausen
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 12Nov2003
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).

References
Help
  • 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.

  • Bury, R. B., P. S. Corn, K. B. Aubry, F. F. Gilbert and L. L. C. Jones. 1991b. Aquatic amphibian communites in Oregon and Washington. Pages 353-62 in L. F. Ruggerio (ed.). Wildlife and vegetation of unmanaged Douglas-fir forests. USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon. Gen. Tech. Rept. PNW-GTR-285.

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

  • 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.

  • Good, D. A. 1989. Hybridization and cryptic species in DICAMPTODON (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae). Evolution 43:728-744.

  • Hawkins, C.P., M.L. Murphy, N.H. Anderson, and M.A. Wilzbach. 1983. Density of fish and salamanders in relation to riparian canopy and physical habitat in streams of the northwestern United States. Can. J. Fish Aquat. Sci. 40(8):1173-1185.

  • Jones, L. L. C., and P. S. Corn. 1989. Third specimen of a metamorphosed Cope's giant salamander (DICAMPTODON COPEI). Northwestern Naturalist 70:37-38.

  • Jones, L.L.C., W. P. Leonard, and D. H. Olson, editors. 2005. Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. xii + 227 pp.

  • Jones, L.L.C., and C. Corkran. 2002. Geographic distribution: Dicamptodon copei. Herpetological Review 33:217.

  • 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.

  • Nussbaum, R.A. 1983. Dicamptodon copei. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 334:1-2.

  • 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.

  • Raphael, M. G. et al. 1997. The Wildlife Ecology Team 1997 Annual Report. Ecology of Aquatic and Riparian Ecosystems under alternate management regimes. pp. 83-93. USFS, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Olympia, WA.

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

  • Steele, C. A., E. D. Brodie, Jr., and J. G. MacCraken. 2003. Dicamptodon copei (Cope's giant salamander). Reproduction. Herpetological Review 34:227-228.

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