AmphibiaWeb - Ambystoma laterale


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Ambystoma laterale Hallowell, 1856
Blue-spotted Salamander
Subgenus: Xiphonura
family: Ambystomatidae
genus: Ambystoma
Species Description: Hallowell, E. (1856). "Description of several species of Urodela, with remarks on the geographical distribution of the Caducibranchiata Division of these animals and their classification." Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 8: 6–11.
Ambystoma laterale
© 2004 Henk Wallays (1 of 37)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
NatureServe Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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Ambystoma laterale is a slender salamader that resembles the species A. jeffersonianum, although the former exhibits a smaller size (7.6-12.9 cm in length), narrower snout and darker color. A. laterale typically possesses a dorsal coloring of grayish-black to bluish black. The lower sides of this species may also display large bluish-white flecks. The stomach is usually fleckled and lighter in color, with the ventral mostly black.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Canada, United States

U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Vermont, Wisconsin

Canadian province distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec

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View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (21 records).
The species is concentrated near the Great Lakes, and ranges along the Atlantic from New Jersey to Quebec, Canada. The deciduous forests are ideal locations for observing A. laterale in its natural habitat.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The breeding season lasts from March to April of each year, where the females lay eggs in either masses of 6-10 at a time, or singly. The eggs are usually laid on debris located at the bottom of ponds.

This species account was based off the information in the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians (1996).

In the Ambystoma genus, there are unisexual populations that can hybridize with A. jeffersonianum, A. laterale, A. texanum, A. trigrinum, and A. barbouri to create ploidy-elevated offspring. They can range from diploid to pentaploid and there are over 20 different nuclear genomic combinations. Most Ambystoma unisexuals have an A. laterale nuclear genome, while the other types of donated genomes can replace each other, as seen in recent populations of A. barbouri being the replacement donor for A. jeffersonianum. Ambystoma unisexuals’ mtDNA is most similar to A. barbouri, however A. barbouri is the least common sperm donor. Tetraploid and pentaploid unisexuals tend to have a higher mortality rate than triploid unisexuals (Bogart et al. 2009).

This species was featured as News of the Week on 14 March 2022:

One of the silverlinings of the COVID-19 pandemic has been reduced human activities on the landscape (sometimes called the "anthropause"), notably a decrease in motor vehicle traffic during lockdown. This provided a unique opportunity while monitoring amphibians in northeastern United States. Using a community citizen science project, The Maine Big Night: Amphibian Migration Monitoring, Leclair et al. (2021) collected data on migrating amphibians crossing roads at sites throughout Maine during amphibian mating seasons, from March to May in 2018 through 2021. Almost 8,000 amphibians representing 16 species were recorded at 199 sites surveyed during these four years. They found a 50% decrease in frog mortality in 2020 compared to the other survey years, mainly due to decreased frog deaths in March and April. Wildlife collision data for other species in Maine (e.g., deer, turkeys, moose) were consistent with this trend of lower wildlife mortality in spring 2020. Thus, there was a significant reduction in frog deaths in Maine because of the traffic reductions during the COVID-19 lockdown. In the same time period, increasing precipitation correlated with increasing frog deaths, but not in salamanders, suggesting that environmental factors influence frog and salamander movements differently. Roads can be significant barriers to amphibian migrations; thus, even small changes can have large effects for these populations, especially for frogs. (Written by Carol Spencer)


Behler, J.L. and King, F.W. (1996). National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Knopf, New York, NY.

Bogart, JP, Bartoszek, J, Noble, DWA, Bi, K (2009). "Sex in unisexual salamanders: discovery of a new sperm donor with ancient affinities." Heredity, 103, 483-493. [link]

Originally submitted by: Kevin Gin (first posted 2003-11-25)
Comments by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2022-10-05)

Edited by: Vance T. Vredenburg (2022-10-05)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Ambystoma laterale: Blue-spotted Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 13, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 13 Jun 2024.

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