Cascade torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton cascadae)

Close up of a Cascade torrent salamander between rocks in a creek
A Cascade torrent salamander between rocks in a creek. (Michael A. Alcorn - Creative Commons)
A closeup of a Cascade torrent salamander on a mossy rock.
This species is closely associated with cool forested streams. (William Leonard)
Category: Amphibians
Ecosystems: Riparian areas
State status: Candidate
Vulnerability to climate change (More details)

High

If you see this species, please share your observation using the WDFW wildlife reporting tool or email us at  wildlife.data@dfw.wa.gov. Be sure to include a photo of the species for verification and location (latitude/longitude coordinates) of your observation. 

The Cascade torrent salamander is sensitive to temperature variation and increased sedimentation that may be caused by disturbances such as logging and road construction. Some populations are isolated by surrounding areas of unsuitable habitat and are vulnerable to extirpation through stochastic events exacerbated by habitat loss. Temperature sensitivity and limited dispersal ability makes this species potentially sensitive to climate change.

Climate vulnerability

Sensitivity to climate change

High

Cascade torrent salamanders are likely highly sensitive to climate change due to their deposition on unattached eggs in low flow habitats, their inability to tolerate desiccation and specialized habitat requirements. Declines in water availability and timing (e.g., due to reduced snowpack and earlier snow melt), as well as increased sedimentation (e.g., due to shifts from snow to rain), could decrease suitable headwater habitat for this species. Increases in the seasonal rainfall, especially that which results from extreme events from atmospheric rivers has the potential to blow out oviposition or rearing sites. This species may also be physiologically limited by high temperatures.

Confidence: Moderate

Exposure to climate change

High

  • Increased temperatures (air and water)
  • Changes in precipitation
  • Reduced snowpack
  • Shifts from snow to rain
  • Earlier snowmelt
  • Changes in stream discharge (altered hydrology) Again, if one is interested in order of importance, changes in precipitation and discharge (stream hydrology) should probably precede the balance here

Conservation

This species is identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) under the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). SGCN-classified species include both those with and without legal protection status under the Federal or State Endangered Species programs, as well as game species with low populations. The WDFW SWAP is part of a nationwide effort by all 50 states and five U.S. territories to develop conservation action plans for fish, wildlife and their natural habitats—identifying opportunities for species' recovery before they are imperiled and more limited.
This species is identified as a Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitat and Species Program. Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, and/or recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. The PHS program is the agency's main means of sharing fish and wildlife information with local governments, landowners, and others who use it to protect priority habitats for land use planning.