Species Profile

Jefferson Salamander

Scientific Name: Ambystoma jeffersonianum
Taxonomy Group: Amphibians
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2010
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: A2bc+4bc; B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This salamander has a restricted range within populated and highly modified areas. Over the past three generations, the species has disappeared from many historic locations and the remaining locations are threatened by development, loss of habitat and, potentially, the presence of sperm-stealing unisexual populations of salamanders.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in November 2000. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2010.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Jefferson Salamander

Jefferson Salamander Photo 1
Jefferson Salamander Photo 2

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Description

Ambystoma jeffersonianum, Jefferson Salamander, is a long, slender, dark grey to brownish member of the mole salamander family with elongated limbs and toes. Light bluish-grey flecks may occur along the lower sides of the body and tail. Adults range in size from 60 to 104 mm snout-vent length with a tail that is nearly as long as the body and is laterally compressed. Males, in breeding condition, have a distinctly swollen cloacal region. Unisexual (all-female) Ambystoma, which co-exist with Jefferson Salamandersin all known Canadian populations, have a very similar morphology to female Jefferson Salamanders. (Updated 2017/06/12)

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Distribution and Population

The geographic range of Jefferson Salamander roughly coincides with upland deciduous forest in northeastern North America from New England to Indiana and south to Kentucky and Virginia. In Canada, the species is found only in isolated populations that are mostly associated with the Niagara Escarpment and Carolinian forest regions in Ontario. (Updated 2017/06/12)

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Habitat

Adult Jefferson Salamanders, throughout their range, are found within deciduous or mixed upland forests containing, or adjacent to, suitable breeding ponds. Breeding ponds are normally ephemeral, or vernal, woodland pools that dry in late summer. Terrestrial habitat is in mature woodlands that have small mammal burrows or rock fissures that enable adults to over-winter underground below the frost line. (Updated 2017/06/12)

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Biology

Adults migrate to and from breeding ponds at night very early in spring when temperatures are moderate. Most migration events to or from breeding ponds coincide with rain. Courtship and egg deposition may occur under the ice of vernal pools and individual males court several females. Within a day or two after mating, females deposit several egg masses on sticks or emergent vegetation. Duration of egg and larval development is variable and temperature-dependent. Carnivorous larvae normally transform in July or early August and leave the pond. Adults spend most of their time under rocks, logs, or in mammal burrows in the forest. Adults over-winter in the terrestrial environment below the frost line. Unisexual Ambystoma, which are mostly polyploid, occur in all known Jefferson Salamander populations in Ontario. They are much more numerous than Jefferson Salamanders and, apparently, have the same behaviour as female Jefferson Salamanders. These females court male Jefferson Salamanders and use sperm from the males to initiate development of their eggs. The sperm may or may not be incorporated into the egg. (Updated 2017/06/12)

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Threats

In Ontario, the Jefferson Salamander is limited by availability of suitable habitat that would include deciduous or mixed forested upland areas associated with fishless ponds that are most often temporary or vernal pools. Threats include the partial or absolute elimination of suitable habitat, construction of barriers (e.g., roads) across migratory routes to or from breeding ponds, stocking fish in breeding ponds, or reduction of the hydro period of breeding ponds so larvae do not have time to complete their development. (Updated 2017/06/12)

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Jefferson Salamander is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Jefferson Salamander Recovery Team

  • Jim Bogart - Chair/Contact - University or college
    Phone: 519-824-4120  Send Email

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

10 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Jefferson Salamander Ambystoma jeffersonianum in Canada (2011-09-09)

    Ambystoma jeffersonianum, Jefferson Salamander, is a long, slender, dark grey to brownish member of the mole salamander family with elongated limbs and toes. Light bluish-grey flecks may occur along the lower sides of the body and tail. Adults range in size from 60 to 104 mm snout-vent length with a tail that is nearly as long as the body and is laterally compressed. Males, in breeding condition, have a distinctly swollen cloacal region. Unisexual (all-female) Ambystoma, which co-exist with Jefferson Salamanders in all known Canadian populations, have a very similar morphology to female Jefferson Salamanders.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Jefferson Salamander (2011-12-08)

    This salamander has a restricted range within populated and highly modified areas. Over the past three generations, the species has disappeared from many historic locations and the remaining locations are threatened by development, loss of habitat and, potentially, the presence of sperm-stealing unisexual populations of salamanders.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) in Canada (2016-02-01)

    The Minister of the Environment is the competent minister for the recovery of the Jefferson Salamander and has prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (now the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the Jefferson Salamander (Part 2) in cooperation with Environment Canada.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (Volume 150, Number 21, 2016) (2016-10-19)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 151, number 12, 2017) (2017-06-14)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances), and, given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects. List of Wildlife Species at Risk (referral back to COSEWIC) Order

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011-09-09)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

Permits and Related Agreements

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2011 (2011-12-08)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by February 8, 2012 for species undergoing normal consultations and by November 8, 2012 for species undergoing extended consultations.

Related Information

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) Listing Plan 2016 to 2018 (2017-09-29)

    The status of wildlife species is assessed by an independent panel of expert Canadian scientists, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 149 terrestrial species were assessed as at-risk by COSEWIC between 2009 and 2016 and are eligible for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to be considered by the Governor-in-Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment: 86 species would be new additions, 54 currently listed species would be reclassified and 9 species would be updated to reflect changes in their recognized designatable units. A three-year listing plan has been developed to address all 149 terrestrial species and listing decisions for most species are anticipated by the end of 2018. Making amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA is a two-step process. The first step is for the GIC to propose an amendment through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The second step is for the GIC to make a final decision on whether or not to make amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA, taking into consideration comments received during the 30-day public comment period. The amendments are made through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Both orders are accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) which presents the implications of listing the species or changing their status. Publishing this plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency about the Government of Canada’s plan to make listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act. NOTE: The information presented below is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide comments on such listing considerations. Given any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision; the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update December 2, 2021
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