The Sacramento District Review – September 2013

In this Month’s Issue:
Sacramento Mountain Salamander
Evening Lecture Series
Kids Corner

The Sacramento District Review is a monthly newsletter prepared by the Sacramento Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest.


Sacramento Mountain Salamander

-Jack Williams

Sacramento Mountain salamander

Sacramento Mountain salamander

The Sacramento Mountain salamander, Aneides hardii, is one of three known salamanders from New Mexico. It is the smallest member of the genus Aneidesm, reaching a maximum length of 2.5 inches.   This amphibian is found in three distinct areas within the Capitan, White, and Sacramento mountains in Lincoln and Otero counties.  This species prefers wet, mixed conifer forests (ex., Douglas Fir, White Fir, and Engelmann spruce) over 8,000 feet in elevation, with an abundance of downed logs and woody material.  It is active above the surface from June to September.

The Sacramento Mountain salamander has a permeable body covering, and has had to create adaptations to cope with the inevitable loss of body water while maintaining moist skin to breathe.  Because this salamander is lungless, gas exchange occurs primarily across moist skin.  To minimize evaporative water loss, it is primarily nocturnal (nighttime) to avoid the higher daytime temperatures and lower atmospheric humidity.  The Sacramento Mountain salamander also moves to diurnal (daytime) retreats such as logs and under rocks, where moisture content is higher.  Higher moisture content also allows salamanders to rehydrate when necessary.

Small salamanders have greater rates of water loss than larger salamanders due to the greater proportion of surface area exposed.  To reduce the amount of surface area exposed to evaporation, salamanders may curl their bodies and tails or form groups of two or more individuals.

The Sacramento Mountain salamander feeds on ground dwelling invertebrates, primarily arthropods.  Although it spends the majority of its time in subterranean sites, it forages on the surface at night or under low light conditions.  Prolonged droughts or periods of low humidity, however, can restrict surface foraging.  This salamander is very resistant to starvation, due to low metabolic rates and relatively large energy reserves, enabling them to survive indefinite periods between feedings.

Known predators to the Sacramento Mountain salamander are garter snakes, small mammals, passerine birds, and nocturnal mammals (ex. raccoons, skunks).  It utilizes downed woody material and is able to spin or writhe in a continuous motion to reduce the chance of predation.

The Sacramento Mountain salamander has the lowest clutch size of any North American plethodontid salamander.  The number of eggs ranges from 1-10 with an average of 5.9 eggs per clutch.  Clutches have been found from mid-July to September, usually within large, decaying Douglas-fir logs or stumps.  Females stay with the eggs until the embryos hatch in late August or early September.  Maternal care provides protection from predators, reduces risk of fungal infection, and enhanced aeration.  Females probably do not actively forage while guarding eggs and only feed opportunistically.

For more information about the Sacramento Mountain salamander, please contact the district office at (575) 682-2551.


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost


Evening Lecture Series 

The September 12th lecture, “Plant Species-Friend or Foe?” will be presented 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Sacramento Ranger Station, #4 Lost Lodge Rd. in Cloudcroft.



Kids Corner

September Kid's Corner

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