This species ranges from southwestern British Columbia in Canada, south through the Coastal Ranges of the USA to extreme northwestern Baja California and the Sierra San Pedro Martir and Sierra Juárez (Mahrdt et al. 1998, Stebbins 2003, D. Frost pers. comm 2014, A. Peralta pers. comm. 2014); and along the western slopes of Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada in California in the USA. It is absent from Sacramento-San Joaquin valley, California. It occurs as a large number of subspecies. Elevational range extends from sea level to about 3,350 m asl (Stebbins 2003). See Moritz et al. (1992) for a general but up-to-date distribution map.
Habitat and Ecology
In the north, this species can be found in Douglas-fir/maple forests and forest clearings. In coastal areas, it inhabits redwood forest, chaparral, oak woodland, canyons. In the Sierra Nevada, habitats include pine-oak-incense cedar forests. In dry or cold weather these salamanders stay in caves, underground, or in or under rotting logs. Eggs are laid underground, or under the bark of or within rotting logs (Stebbins 2003), where they develop directly without a larval stage. The subspecies E. e. klauberi lives in mixed conifer forest and lays its eggs on the ground.
In the USA and Canada the total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000. Its population appears to be stable. It is a rare species in Mexico; there have been only a few observations, but they are still found.
In moist climates, species of this genus tolerate intensive forestry practices fairly well, but in drier climates recently logged areas have lower population densities than old growth forests, presumably reflecting moisture differences (Petranka 1998).
This polytypic, ring species includes taxa that form a semicomplex of more than one species.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2015. Ensatina eschscholtzii. In: IUCN 2014