Salado Salamander (Eurycea chisholmensis)
The Eurycea chisholmensis, more commonly known as the Salado Salamander, is one of four species of interest considered threatened in the Brazos River basin.
Photo courtesy of Nathan Bendik
The Salado Salamander is listed as Federally Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service due to the limited size or reach as well as the decline of its habitat. Threats to this species include agriculture, pollution, and changes in spring flow due.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had proposed to designate a critical habitat for the Salado Salamander in 2012-2013. However, to-date critical habitat has not been adopted for the species. On February 28, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order requiring USFWS to adopt a critical habitat for the Salado Salamander. It is anticipated that USFWS will issue a proposed critical habitat rule by August 12, 2020, and adopt a final rule by August 2021.
Current Range Map
The Salado Salamander is known in only two springs, Big Boiling Springs and Robertson Springs, near Salado.
The Salado Salamander is one of many spring-associated salamanders found on the Edwards Aquifer system. The San Marcos and Barton Springs Salamanders receive much attention due to their closeness to major human recreation areas and the limited reach of their habitat. These salamanders are indicator species for changes in water quality and ruined habitat.
The Salado Salamander lives entirely in water, under rocks, in gravel, and in vegetation. This species only occupies spring outflows, which offer clear water, stable temperatures and water chemistry. Water characteristics change greatly with distance from the spring outflow, and salamander populations diminish quickly with minimal distance from the springs.
Little is known about the reproduction of the Salado Salamander. However, this species likely deposits eggs in gravel substrates in the same habitat as adults. These salamanders are paedomorphic, meaning they retain some juvenile characteristics as adults. The larvae hatch with external gills that are retained into the adult form. The adult salamanders feed on aquatic invertebrates, including seed shrimp, copepods, and amphipods, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The breeding season of the Salado Salamander is not well understood but recent research suggests,
females are pregnant during the winter months, lay their eggs in late winter-early spring, and the eggs grow to become juveniles in the spring and summer months.
Ongoing Research/Conservation Efforts
The Salado Salamander has been listed under federal protective status due to the limited area of its habitat and closeness to urban land use. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department conduct ongoing monitoring of the Salado Salamander and its habitat and produce annual reports available to the public.
Additionally, the Bell County Adaptive Management Coalition, composed of Bell County, Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District (CUWCD), the Village of Salado, landowners and water supply purveyors, jointly fund extensive, ongoing research into the salamander and its habitat. They currently fund research and monitoring activities conducted by the USFWS, USGS, Baylor University, and Texas State University.
For more information, go to:
Information about the Bell County Adaptive Management Coalition’s funded research and monitoring activities can be located at the following:
Other source of information regarding the Salado Salamander can be located at the following sites:
- Bendik, N. F. 2017. Demographics, reproduction, growth, and abundance of Jollyville Plateau salamanders (Eurycea tonkawae). Ecology and evolution, 7(13), 5002-5015.
- Diaz, P.H. and J. BronsonWarren. 2018. Salado Salamander Monitoring Final Report 2018. United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331429960_Salado_Salamander_Monitoring_Final_Report_2018
- Pierce, B. A., K. D. McEntire, and A. E. Wall. 2014. Population size, movement, and reproduction of the Georgetown Salamander, Eurycea naufragia. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 9(1), 137-145.
Read more about the other threatened species of interest here.