An assessment of the limiting factors for boreal toads in the LaBarge Creek watershed

Boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) were once common throughout their native range but have undergone severe declines as well as local extinctions over the past decades. Fungal pathogen Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) and habitat loss are thought to be the top contributors to their declines. Boreal toads are a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (NSS1, Tier 1) and are designated by the Forest Service as a Sensitive Species in Wyoming.

The LaBarge Creek watershed, located within the Bridger-Teton National Forest, historically was home to a robust population of boreal toads. However, since 2009, surveys have revealed drastically reduced numbers and evidence of low recruitment. The reason for their decline is unknown, however, this population faces multiple stressors including disease, habitat loss from a restoration treatment, livestock grazing, past wildfires, and proximity to roads.

The aim of this research is to assess the habitats available to boreal toads in LaBarge and uncover the factors responsible for population declines.

Our objectives are to:

  1. Investigate boreal toad use of beaver ponds and identify habitat characteristics that predict use.
  2. Quantify pond and landscape attributes associated with breeding, number of egg masses, hatching success, and metamorphosis.
  3. Assess microhabitat use during the breeding and summer foraging periods by toads and whether habitat choices influence survival or Bd prevalence and persistence.

Field work and data collection will begin May 2023.

Contact

Margot Breiner, MS Student

Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Department of Zoology & Physiology, University of Wyoming

Dept. 3166, 1000 E University Ave

Laramie, WY 82071

[email protected]

 

Annika Walters, Assistant Unit Leader

U.S. Geological Survey,

Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Department of Zoology & Physiology, University of Wyoming

Dept. 3166, 1000 E University Ave

Laramie, WY 82071

[email protected]