California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Amphibian & Reptile Species of Special Concern

Important Notice!

California's list of Amphibian and Reptile Species of Special Concern (ARSSC) is a critical component of the management and protection of amphibians and reptiles in the state. The Department contracted with the UC Davis Center for Population Biology to revise the previous ARSSC document and list. Details on the development of this publication are at The authors are:

Center for Population Biology
University of California
Davis, CA 95616

We have experienced some delays in completion of this effort. A revised, updated version of this publication should be available in late summer 2014. We plan to make the completed product available as a full color book (limited copies); a downloadable PDF will also be available from this website.

The most current list of Species of Special Concern can be found on CDFW's Special Animals List.

Species Accounts

More detailed information is available in the 1994 Department of Fish and Wildlife publication "Amphibian and Reptile Species of Special Concern in California", by Mark R. Jennings and Marc P. Hayes.

1994 Report Overview

This report contains species accounts and distribution maps for 48 amphibian and reptile special concern taxa (11 salamanders, 14 anurans, 2 turtles, 12 lizards, and 9 snakes). Each species account contains a description of the animal, taxonomic remarks, distribution and life history information, habitat description, status, management recommendations and a range map.

Of the 48 special concern taxa, 23 were recommended by the authors for threatened or endangered status in California, and 25 others were regarded as needing special attention to prevent further declines. The remaining 33 California taxa were determined not to warrant any special status at that time.

Since the report was published, the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), and Sierra Madre (Rana muscosa) and Sierra Nevada (Rana sierrae) yellow-legged frogs (formerly one species, the mountain yellow-legged frog) have been State and Federally-listed. The Yosemite toad (Bufo canorus) was also Federally-listed but remains a State Species of Special Concern.

Anurans (frogs) and turtles were described as the most imperiled groups. Remaining major groups, ranked from most to least at risk, were salamanders, lizards, and snakes. Taxa that use aquatic habitats were most at risk.

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