Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
NEVADA FWO: A Passion For Amargosa Toads
California-Nevada Offices , September 27, 2012
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Dave Spicer holds an Amargosa toad at a habitat restoration project on his private property.
Dave Spicer holds an Amargosa toad at a habitat restoration project on his private property. - Photo Credit: C. Manville, USFWS
Amargosa Toad.
Amargosa Toad. - Photo Credit: M. Burroughs, USFWS

By Jeannie Stafford, Public Affairs

With a passion for conservation of the Amargosa toad (Anaxyrus nelsoni), David Spicer, a rancher in Beatty, Nevada, has successfully rallied together his community. His leadership brought together environmental organizations, off-road vehicle users, mining interests, ranchers, members of the Nevada business community not usually associated with species conservation, as well as the local community, to implement conservation actions for the Amargosa toad. Their conservation efforts for the Amargosa toad have helped preclude the need to list the species.

In addition to his leadership, Spicer founded a non-profit organization, Saving Toads Though Off-Road Racing, Ranching and Mining in the Oasis Valley (STORM-OV), and designed and constructed spring outflows to maintain functional toad habitat through Nevada's hot, dry summers.

In response to a petition to list the Amargosa toad, an Amargosa Toad Working Group was formed to provide management and conservation guidance for the toad. Members of this group include Nevada Department of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Natural Heritage Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Beatty Habitat Committee, Nye County, local residents and the town of Beatty, Nevada.

On September 14, 2011, Rob Moroka, Ecologist and Nevada Conservation Advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, wrote Mr. Spicer a letter commending him and the other partners as follows:

“STORM-OV has been able to bring the community, miners, ranchers, motorized recreation enthusiasts, and conservation organizations together to effectively work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife in accomplishing significant on-the-ground conservation actions that have benefited the toads and resulted in an increasing population trend. Dave Spicer has been at the heart of these activities and instills a contagious enthusiasm and spirit into the conservation efforts.”

This community working together is the perfect example of successful habitat restoration and species conservation.

Amargosa toads are members of the family Bufonidae, which includes North American true toads. The species is only found in the 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 6,633 acres, approximately 50 percent of which is on private land.

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 and ends in July. The eggs typically develop into tadpoles within a week and tadpoles into toadlets .

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