Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
NEVADA FWO: Getting to Know the Amargosa Toad
California-Nevada Offices , February 6, 2012
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Amargosa toad tadpoles thriving in restored habitat
Amargosa toad tadpoles thriving in restored habitat - Photo Credit: USFWS
Amargosa toad egg mass in restored habitat
Amargosa toad egg mass in restored habitat - Photo Credit: USFWS
Adult Amargosa toad.
Adult Amargosa toad. - Photo Credit: USFWS

By Jeannie Stafford, Public Affairs, Nevada FWO

The Amargosa toad is a member of the family Bufonidae, which includes North American true toads. The species is endemic (found nowhere else) to Oasis Valley in southern Nye County, Nevada.

The historical and current range of the Amargosa toad is estimated to occur along an approximately 10-mile stretch of the Amargosa River and nearby spring systems, roughly between the towns of Springdale and Beatty. The amount of known and potential Amargosa toad habitat is estimated at about 8,440 acres on both public and private lands.

The dorsal (upper) body of the Amargosa toad has three paired rows of wart-like skin projections called tubercles. Their backs have black speckling or asymmetrical spots. Background coloration ranges from almost black to brownish or pale yellow-brown or olive and may vary considerably among individual toads in the same population. A light mid-dorsal stripe occurs along the backbone. The large, wart-like parotid glands located behind the eye are tawny to olive. Underneath, the Amargosa toad is whitish or pale olive with scattered black spots that merge above the legs to form the appearance of “pants."

The breeding season for the Amargosa toad begins in mid-February when egg clutches are laid. A female may lay up to 6,000 eggs in a single clutch, which appears as a long strand of black dots intertwined among vegetation along the edges of a slow-moving stream or shallow body of water. Toads require relatively open water that persists long enough for the tadpoles to metamorphose into toadlets and leave the water. Breeding activity tapers off in the summer and ends in July. The eggs typically develop into tadpoles within a week, and tadpoles into toadlets in about four weeks.

Adult toads forage at night along the water’s edge and adjacent upland areas. Toads eat invertebrates including spiders, insects, and scorpions. During the day, Amargosa toads typically take shelter in burrows, debris piles, or dense vegetation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed a 12-month review of the toad’s status in July 2010 and determined the species did not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Service was able to reach this determination because of the coordinated conservation work by the local community, and agency partners. Their conservation efforts are a wonderful example of how a community working together prevented the need to list a species.

Contact Info: Jeannie Stafford, 775-861-6300, jeannie_stafford@fws.gov
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