In the wet mountain meadows of Sierra Nevada, California, a melodic trill signals that a male Yosemite Toad is near and ready to mate. At one time, the distinctive call of this species filled the area. However, over the past decade, fewer and fewer calls are heard. The rapid decline of the Yosemite Toad (Anaxyrus canorus) pushed the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to list the species as ‘Threatened’ in 2014. This means that the species is likely to become endangered in the near future. (It is worth noting that the IUCN Red List ranks species as endangered).
The Yosemite Toad is a true toad form the Bufonidae family. They can be found at high altitudes in the Sierra Nevada region. Males and females exhibit sexually dichromatic colors. Males have a brighter, solid color, while females are spotty. Both excrete toxins from glands found on the side of their head, which protects them from potential predators. They feed on a range of invertebrates that they catch with their long, sticky tongue.
The ESA is protecting critical habitat for the Yosemite Toad. This will hopefully improve population numbers and save the species from extinction. Although this sounds like progress, there are more concerns to consider. For example, populations within the Yosemite Park are also in decline exposing that climate change and disease still affect protected habitat.
Many amphibians around the world are experiencing the same sharp decline for similar reasons. Amphibians have lived on this earth for over 300 million years. The combination of natural and human-induced distresses is challenging their survival.
This blog series offers awareness of species listed by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 whose survival is either endangered or threatened. Awareness comes first. Then, action.