Paul Ruthling (1897-1972): Salamanders in Los Angeles County

by
Robert Jan van de Hoek, President
Ballona Institute
Los Angeles, California 90293
roy@naturespeace.org
İMarch 17, 2013

FOREWORD
by
Robert "Roy" van de Hoek
Los Angeles, California
2013
Paul Ruthling (1897-1972) was a very special natural historian of Los Angeles County. He was a young man, only 18 years old, when he authored natural history articles in 1915 about reptiles and amphibians in the scientific publication called COPEIA. Featured here is an article that he wrote about salamanders in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES SALAMANDERS
by
PAUL D. R. RUTHLING
Los Angeles, California
December 15, 1915
In a branch canyon of Topango Canyon, near Santa Monica, California, is a small pool from which water is piped for a ranch house below. This pool is not more than two feet in depth, four feet long and three feet wide. It is covered with boards and is surrounded by much damp disintegrated granite, rich loam and leaves from shady oak-trees above.

Between the boards and underneath, within three feet of one another, I found - on May 31st, 1915 - the four different salamanders known to exist in the vicinity of Los Angeles. They were: Diemyctylus torosus, commonly known as the "Water-dog." Autodax lugubris, Plethodon oregonensis, and Batrachoseps attenuatus.

The "Water-dogs" were plentiful and included young without gills and adults of full size. Altogether there were about twenty of them which lived in and about the pool.

One Autodax lugubris lay coiled between the damp boards, beneath which a pretty specimen of Plethodon oregonensis lay on a wet rock near the water's edge. At one side, on damp earth beneath a rock, hid a Batrachoseps attenuatus.

This is the second specimen of Plethodon oregonensis that has come under my observation during the last three years. This is the first time I have known of the four Los Angeles Salamanders having been found in one place or even in one day.

A few weeks later, a visit in hotter and dryer weather showed only "Water -dogs," to be in evidence at the same place, although I had left the salamanders, boards and rocks as I had found them.


AFTERWORD
by
Robert "Roy" van de Hoek
Los Angeles, California
2013
In 1915, nearly 100 years ago, Paul Ruthling was very curious about all the amphibians and reptiles of Los Angeles. Three years later he would leave Los Angeles to go to Mexico, where he would continue his special natural history discoveries with reptiles found there. Later, he would return to the U.S. and live in New Mexico and later Arizona. The hope is that Los Angeles residents will welcome the recovery of amphibians, both salamanders and frogs to uplands and vernal wetlands at the baseball fields of the Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve. This geographic area is very special habitat that is misunderstood by many scientists and managers in the government. 1