Was reading last week’s edition of your lovely paper and my eye caught an error in biological identification of the pair of salamanders stalking page 19. The caption claims “Two Tiger Salamanders” when, in fact, they are both the spotted subspecies of the Large-blotched Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii subspecies klauberi). Since moving to Blue Oak Ranch, I have become a steward of the California Tiger Salamander, Ambystoma californiense, a very different beastie compared to the Ensatina of the San Jacintos.
Interestingly, there is an un-blotched brown subspecies of Ensatina common to the James Reserve called the Monterey Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii subspecies eschscholtzii). What makes these two subspecies special is that right around Dark Canyon is a hybrid breeding zone where offspring between these two produce an intermediate set of characteristics unique to either parental type. The hybrid is a very rare occurrence, and sought out by herpetologists who specialize in salamander genetics.
Thought you might like to know. Hi to all from up north.
Michael Hamilton, Ph.D.
Director, Blue Oak Ranch Reserve
University of California
Editor’s note: We are humbled and regret the error, but thoroughly enjoyed these two letters of correction.