Long-toed Salamander - Ambystoma macrodactylum
Adults are dark gray to black with an irregular (sometimes broken or rarely absent) green to yellow stripe down the middle of the back. The longest toe on the hind foot is longer than the sole; this species lacks a groove running vertically from the nostril to the mouth. Adult body length is 2 to 3.25 inches. Eggs and Larvae: Eggs are typically laid in ponds in small clusters of 5 to 100, but eggs may be laid singly. Larvae are usually brown, have three external gills, and are relatively small (less than 1.75-inch body) and slender.
Western Hemisphere Range
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 2579
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Long-toed Salamanders are found in a variety of habitats from sagebrush to alpine. They typically breed in ponds or lakes, usually those without fish present. Adults go to the breeding ponds immediately after snowmelt and in western Montana are usually the first amphibians to breed. Like all salamanders, they have internal fertilization. Following breeding, they move to adjacent uplands. Eggs hatch in 3 to 6 weeks and metamorphosis takes 2 to 14 months. Migration routes to breeding pools showed no preference to habitat, relative soil moisture or vegetation, although individuals tended to move through same habitat (Beneski et al. 1986).
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
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- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Human Land Use
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Larvae; ostracods/cyclops; also red water mites, insect egg masses, algae (Franz 1971). Adult: terrestrial arthropods (mostly formicidae coleoptera, diptera) 74%; aquatic insect larvae (mostly trichoptera) 37% (Farner 1947).
Paedogenesis is unknown in this species. Earliest amphibian to breed in Pacific Northwest (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
In ID: breed February to May below 2100m; June to July above 2100m. Clutch size = 167 low elevation, 90 high elevation. Metamorphose: below 2100m, at SVL 35 to 40mm, year 1; above 2100m, at SVL 47mm, year 2 to 4 (Howard and Wallace 1985). Metamorphs: August to September (Brunson and Demaree 1951, Franz 1971). Sexually mature at SVL 50mm.
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Beneski, J.T. Jr., E.J. Zalisko and J.H. Larsen Jr. 1986. Demography and migratory patterns of the eastern long-toed salamander, Ambystoma macrodactylum columbianum. Copeia 1986(2): 398-408.
- Brunson, R.B. and H.A. Demaree, Jr. 1951. The herpetology of the Mission Mountains, Montana. Copeia (4):306-308.
- Farner, D.S. 1947. Notes on the food habits of the salamanders of Crater Lake, Oregon. Copeia 1947(4): 259-261.
- Franz, R. 1971. Notes on the distribution and ecology of the herpetofauna of northwestern Montana. Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 7: 1-10.
- Howard, J.H. and R.L. Wallace. 1985. Life history characteristics of populations of the long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum) from different altitudes. American Midland Naturalist 113(2): 361-373.
- Nussbaum, R.A., E.D. Brodie, Jr. and R.M. Storm. 1983. Amphibians and reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. University of Idaho Press. Moscow, ID. 332 pp.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
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