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ARROYO TOAD } Bufo californicus

RANGE: Coastal mountains of south-central California and northern Baja California

STATUS: The arroyo toad is listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

THREATS: Habitat degradation and loss due to urban sprawl, dams, cattle grazing, mining, and off-road vehicle use

In the mythologies of European cultures, toads were often associated with witchcraft and impurity; New World culture has been kinder to the toad, identifying it with life-giving rains. The arroyo toad might not be responsible for bringing the rains that sustain its coastal California home, but it’s certainly an integral part of that ecosystem. This tiny toad — usually no more than three inches long — tunnels into sandy streamsides to withstand long droughts, but human encroachment, mining, and off-road vehicles are leaving the arroyo toad without a sandy bank to burrow into. To make matters worse, nonnative bullfrogs kill and eat adult arroyo toads, while introduced bullhead trout and crayfish munch on toad eggs and tadpoles. The Center has worked for years to protect the toad, even as the Bush administration attempted to use flawed science to slash more than 90 percent of its protected habitat.


Photo © Jason Jones