The Limestone Salamander (Hydromantes brunus) is a lungless salamander, found in a portion of the Merced River Canyon in Mariposa County, California. While Hydromantes is composed of three species found in the United States; H. platycephalus and H. shastae, and Hydromantes is endemic to parts of California, southern France and Italy, the H. brunus is rare and specific to Merced Canyon. This member of the plethodontidae family breathes through its skin and manifests a flattened body and head. It is typically 5.0 to 7.5 centimeters in length and has webbed toes. The total population of this rare species is estimated at less than 2000 individuals. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, temperate shrubland, freshwater springs, rocky areas, and caves. It is threatened by habitat loss.
The creature's specialized habitat is canyon slopes that are greater than 35 degrees. According to Earth Metrics, the sole Merced River Canyon habitat is part of an area "representative of foothill habitats forming a band along the length of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the western slopes at intermediate elevations. As a whole, this band is one of the largest contiguous wildlife habitats in the state [of California]." A portion of the Merced River Canyon is protected by the State of California and managed by the State Department of Fish and Game as the Limestone Salamander Ecological Reserve
- Hydromantes brunus : Limestone Salamander
- Colleen Flannery, Ecological Reserves: Special protection for special places, Outdoor California Magazine, November - December 2001
- Earth Metrics, Environmental Impact Report for the Saxon Creek Water Project, Mariposa County, California, published by the County of Mariposa Planning Department, Report 10298, May, 1990
- Hammerson, G. & Wake, D. 2004. Hydromantes brunus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 23 July 2007.
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