AmphibiaWeb - Rhyacotriton kezeri
Rhyacotriton kezeri
Columbia torrent salamander
family: Rhyacotritonidae

© 2013 John P. Clare (1 of 19)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Near Threatened (NT)
NatureServe Status Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

A small to medium-sized, semi-aquatic salamander. The dorsum is green, brown or grayish and the venter is bright yellow or orangish. Unlike other species of Rhyacotriton most individuals lacks spots on the back or belly. Description from Leonard et al.(1993) and Petranka (1998).Males have squared glandular lobes on either side of the vent opening, a trait unique among salamanders (Sever 1988). These salamanders have a short, rounded snout and relatively large, bulging eyes. Adult body size is 4.0 to 5.5 cm snout to vent length (7.5 - 11.5 cm total length) (Good and Wake 1992; Petranka 1998). Males are slightly larger than females (Good and Wake 1992). The tail is relatively short, less than the snout to vent length.Larvae are of the stream type with short gills and a low dorsal tail fin that does not extend onto the back (Stebbins 1985; Petranka 1998). The color of the larvae is similar to the adults but the dorsum is a lighter shade of brown and the venter is cream to yellowish (Petranka 1998). Hatchling size is 22.5-25.8 mm (average 24.1) total length (Nussbaum 1969).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States

U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Oregon, Washington


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Rhyacotriton kezeri is an inhabitant of the Pacific Coast Range from just south of the Chehallis River, Grays Harbor county, Washington, to the Little Nestuca River and the Grande Ronde Valley in Polk, Tillamook, and Yamhill counties, Oregon (Good and Wake 1992).Like other species of Rhyacotriton, R. kezeri prefer cold, fast-moving streams in forested areas. The larvae generally live in the rocky substrate, while adults prefer the splash zone at the edges of streams. These salamanders may also be found in seepage areas (Good and Wake 1992; Petranka 1998).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Courtship has not been observed for any species of Rhyacotriton (Petranka 1998). Based on data for other species of Rhyacotriton, courtship and mating probabaly occur over most of the year, concentrated in the fall and spring months. Females may oviposit at any time of the year, but tend to lay in late spring (Nussbaum and Tait 1977; Welsh and Lind 1992). Rhyacotriton kezeri is the only species of Rhyacotriton for which eggs have been found in nature. Egg deposition sites are in seeps at the heads of springs (Nussbaum 1969). Thirty-two eggs were found in the nest. Based on estimates of the average clutch size, this was likely the reproductive effort of at least three females (Nussbaum 1969). Females apparently do not attend the developing eggs. Clutch frequency is once per year (Nussbaum and Tait 1977; Nussbaum et al. 1983). Eggs laid in spring hatch 5-6 months later (Nussbaum 1969).

Less is known about the biology of R. kezeri than of other species of Rhyacotriton. Species of Rhyacotriton are likely to be similar in many ways, for example with respect to diet and potential predators. Predation on the eggs of R. kezeri by giant salamanders (Dicamptodon) has been documented (Nussbaum 1969).

Trends and Threats
As with other species of Rhyacotriton, old-growth forests seem to provide the optimal habitiat for R. kezeri, and populations are threatend by continued logging activities (Bury 1983; Good and Wake 1992; Welsh and Lind 1991).

Until recently the genus Rhyacotriton contained a single species with two subspecies, R. o. olympicus and R. o. variegatus. Genetic studies revealed substantial variation and subdivision throughout the range and the single species was split into four species: R. olympicus, R. variegatus, R. kezeri, and R.cascadae (Good et al. 1987; Good and Wake 1992).


Bury, R. B. (1983). "Differences in amphibian populations in logged and old growth redwood forest." Northwest Science, 57, 167-178.

Good, D. A., Wake, D. B., and Wurst, G. Z. (1987). ''Patterns of geographic variation in allozymes of the Olympic salamander Rhyacotriton olympicus (Caudata: Dicamptodontidae).'' Fieldiana, Zoology, 32, 1-15.

Good, D. A., and Wake, D. B. (1992). ''Geographic variation and speciation in the torrent salamanders of the genus Rhyacotriton (Caudata: Rhyacotritonidae).'' University of California Publications in Zoology, 126, 1-91.

Leonard, W.P., Brown, H.A., Jones, L.L.C., McAllister, K.R., and Storm, R.M. (1993). Amphibians of Washington and Oregon. Seattle Audubon, Seattle.

Nussbaum, R. (1969). ''A nest site of the Olympic Salamander, Rhyacotriton olympicus (Gaige).'' Herpetologica, 25, 277-278.

Nussbaum, R. A., Brodie, E. D., Jr., and Storm, R. M. (1983). Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. University of Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho.

Nussbaum, R., and Tait, C. K. (1977). ''Aspects of the life history and ecology of the Olympic Salamander, Rhyacotriton olympicus.'' American Midland Naturalist, 98, 176-199.

Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. and London.

Sever, D M. (1988). "Male Rhyacotriton olympicus (Dicamptodontidae: Urodela) has a unique cloacal vent gland." Herpetologica, 44, 274-280.

Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Welsh, H. H., Jr. and Lind, A. J. (1991). ''The structure of the herpetofaunal assemblage in the Douglas-fir/hardwood forests of northwestern California and southwestern Oregon.'' Wildlife and Vegetation of Unmanaged Douglas-fir Forests, USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-285. L. F. Ruggiero, K. B. Aubry, A. B. Carey, and M. H. Huff, eds., USDA Forest Service, 394-413.

Welsh, H. H., Jr., and Lind, A. J. (1992). ''Population ecology of two relictual salamanders from the Klamath Mountains of northwestern California.'' Wildlife 2001: Populations. McCullough, D.R., and R.H. Barrett, eds., Elsevier Applied Science, New York., 419-437.

Originally submitted by: Meredith J. Mahoney (first posted 2000-07-19)

Edited by: M. J. Mahoney (2001-06-04)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2001 Rhyacotriton kezeri: Columbia torrent salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 16, 2021.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 16 May 2021.

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