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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Anaxyrus canorus - Yosemite Toad

(=Bufo canorus)


Click on a picture for a larger view




Yosemite Toad Range Map
Historical Range in California: Red

Dot-locality range map


Listen to this toad:


speaker
One short call



observation link





Adult Males
Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad
  Adult male, Alpine County  
Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad
Adult Male, Alpine County Adult Male, Alpine County Adult Male, Alpine County Adult male, Alpine County,
in calling location.
Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad
Adult male, Alpine County Adult male, Alpine County Adult male, Mono County
© Douglas Aguillard
Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad
This adult male sat at the edge of a small trickle at the edge of a small lake in Alpine County for several hours, probably feeding on insects. Adult Male, Alpine County Adult Male and Female, Fresno County
© Patrick Briggs
Yosemite Toad      
Adult male, raised up in a defensive stance, Alpine County. © Richard Porter

     
Adult Females
Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad
Adult Female, Alpine County Adult Female, Alpine County Adult Female, Alpine County Adult Female, Alpine County
Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad  
Adult female, Mono County © Ben Witzke

Adult female, Mono County © Ben Witzke Adult female, Mono County © Ben Witzke  
Juveniles
Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad  
Juvenile, Alpine County

Juvenile, Alpine County  
Adults In Breeding Season
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Adults in amplexus with the female depositing her eggs, Alpine County Adults in amplexus, Fresno County with a second male underneath the female. He tried to steal the female from the other male, but the other male kicked and produced the territorial call until the second male finally retreated. Adults in amplexus, Fresno County
© Julie Nelson
Calling male, Fresno County.
Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad
Male, Fresno County, in calling postition. Calling male, Alpine County Adult male, Alpine County, (at very bottom of pictures) at edge of snow-melt runoff in a meadow in which there are a fewcalling males during the beginning of the breeding season.

Eggs and Tadpoles
Yosemite Toad eggs Yosemite Toad eggs Yosemite Toad tadpoles Yosemite Toad tadpoles
Eggs, Alpine County Eggs, Fresno County
© Julie Nelson
Tadpoles, Alpine County Tadpoles, Alpine County
Yosemite Toad tadpoles      
Tadpoles, Fresno County
© Julie Nelson
     
Habitat
Yosemite Toad Habitat Yosemite Toad Habitat Yosemite Toad Habitat Yosemite Toad Habitat
Habitat, 8,900 ft, Alpine County

Breeding habitat, 8900 ft., Alpine County (site of amplexing adults and eggs shown above is in shallow water at lower left) Habitat, Alpine County Toad in Habitat (in the center of the photo on the bank of a small creek) Alpine County
Yosemite Toad Habitat Yosemite Toad Habitat Yosemite Toad Habitat Yosemite Toad Habitat
Two views of breeding habitat at 9200 ft. elevation in Fresno County during the breeding period. Tadpoles habitat, 8,900 ft,. Alpine County Habitat, Alpine County
Yosemite Toad Habitat Yosemite Toad Habitat Yosemite Toad Habitat Yosemite Toad Habitat
Habitat at breeding time - meadow saturated with snow melt 8,900 ft., Alpine County.

Former habitat, 9,100 ft. Mono County Habitat, Mono County © Ben Witzke
Short Videos
Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad
Male Yosemite Toads swim and hop around a meadow surrounded by melting snow. Juvenile and adult male Yosemite Toads around a high-elevation lake. This is a 20 second video of a male toad calling in the afternoon from a snow-melt pool in a high-altitude wet meadow surrounded by snow at 9200 ft. elevation in Fresno County. The air temperature was 37 degrees, but the shallow water was over 60 degrees F. due to the sun. Pacific Treefrogs and water sounds are heard in the background.

Many thanks to Stephanie Weber, aquatic biologist and toad Muse, for helping me to get this recording by inspiring some cold and sluggish toads to call.
This is a short video of a male and female in amplexus in Fresno County. A release call, probably made by the female (on the bottom), can be heard as the frogs hop together. A female typically produces this call after she has already laid her eggs and wants the male to release her.
© Julie Nelson


Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad Yosemite Toad tadpoles Yosemite Toad
These are short videos of a male calling from  on top of and underneath
a piece of buried tree root in a wet meadow in Alpine County.
Tiny recently-hatched tadpoles swim in shallow puddles in a high mountain meadow in Alpine County A juvenile toad in Alpine County.
Description

Size
Adults are 1 3/4 - 2 3/4 inches from snout to vent ( 4.4 - 7 cm).
Appearance
Robust and stocky with dry, uniformly warty skin. No cranial crests. Large, flat oval paratoid glands. Eyes are closely set, pupils are horizontal. Dorsal stripe is very faint or absent. Sexes are colored differently. Males are pale yellowish green or olive above, with few or no dark blotches. Females and young are heavily blotched on a light background. Throat and belly is pale on both sexes.
Voice (Listen)
A long, rapid musical trill, repeated at frequent intervals.
Behavior
Active in daytime, usually in sunny areas. Activity period is relatively short, from April - July, to late September or early October. After breeding, males and females move from the breeding pond into meadows where they feed for 2 - 3 months before the snows return.
During winter, Yosemite Toads shelter in rodent burrows, willow thickets, forest edges adjoining meadows, and in clumps of vegetation near water.
Like most toads, this one is slow moving, often using a walking or crawling motion along with short hops.
Calling males at breeding sites will defend their territory from other males.
For defense, Yosemite toads rely on parotoid glands and warts which can secrete a poison that deters some predators.
Diet
Diet consists of a wide variety of invertebrates, including beetles, ants, siders, bees, wasps, flies, and millipedes. The prey is located by vision, then the toad lunges with a large sticky tongue to catch the prey and bring it into the mouth to eat.
Reproduction and Young
Reproduction is aquatic. Fertilization is external. Mating and egg-laying takes place in shallow pools and the margins of lakes or in quiet streams from May to July shortly after the snow melts. Males arrive at breeding sites a few days before females. (Males stay for 1 - 2 weeks, while females leave after a few days.) Males set up a territory in shallow water and make a trilled breeding call to attract a female. Calls are made during the day, peaking at mid day.When a female arrives, the male amplexes her and rides her to a location where she decides to lay her eggs. The male fertilizes the eggs as she lays them, then they separate.

Eggs are laid in shallow pools and slow moving meadow streams. Females laid an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 eggs at one location. Eggs are laid in single or double strands, or in a radiating network several eggs deep. Eggs hatch in 10 - 12 days.

Tadpoles metamorphosed in 52 - 63 days at one location. Tadpoles are preyed upon by other frogs, birds, diving beetles, and probably gartersnakes. Juvenile toads feed and overwinter near the breeding pond.
Range
Endemic to California. Ranges at high elevations in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Most authors indicate that the distribution is from the Ebbets Pass area of Alpine County south to the Spanish Mountains area in Fresno County, but there are mentions of Yosemite Toads from farther north than the Ebbets Pass area of Alpine County: Stebbins (2003/2012) notes their northernmost range as Grass Lake, El Dorado County (just north of the Alpine County line) and there are 1956 records from Fallen Leaf Lake, El Dorado County, which is just south of Lake Tahoe.
Habitat
Inhabits wet mountain meadows, willow thickets, and the borders of forests, usually not more than a hundred meters from permanent water.
From 4,800 - 12,000 ft. (1,460 - 3,630 m.) elevation.
Taxonomic Notes
Formerly included in the genus Bufo. In 2006, Frost et al replaced the long-standing genus Bufo in North America with Anaxyrus, restricting Bufo to the eastern hemisphere. Bufo is still used in most existing references.

Hybridizes with A. b. halophilus in the northern part of its range. (Stebbins 2003.)
Conservation Status

It has been estimated from population studies that the Yosemite Toad has disappeared from over 50% of its historic range, even in habitats that still appear to be unaltered. Remaining populations may not be reproducing enough to survive. One population at Tioga Pass, counted for more than 20 years, had declined by 90 percent in 1993.

The causes of the decline are unclear. Disease, degradation of habitat by grazing livestock, increased ultraviolet radiation, introduced predatory fishes, a severe 1980's drought, windborne pesticide contamination, and increased predation by Common Ravens, whose population has increasd greatly due to human activities, are all causes which are thought to have contributed to the decline.


Taxonomy
Family Bufonidae True Toads
Genus Anaxyrus North American Toads
Species canorus Yosemite Toad

Original Description
Bufo canorus Camp, 1916 - Univ. California Publ. Zool., Vol. 17, No. 6, p. 59

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Bufo - toad
Anaxyrus - Greek - A king or chief
canorus - Latin for tuneful - "melodious trill uttered by this toad" - referring to the male's breeding call

Taken in part from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Alternate Names
Bufo canorus

Related or Similar California Frogs
Anaxyrus boreas boreas
Anaxyrus boreas halophilus

Anaxyrus woodhousii
Anaxyrus californicus
Anaxyrus exsul

More Information and References

NatureServe Explorer

AmphibiaWeb

California Department of Fish and Game

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Elliott, Lang, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson. Frogs and Toads of North America, a Comprehensive Guide to their Identification, Behavior, and Calls. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.

Lannoo, Michael (Editor). Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, June 2005.

Wright, Anna. Handbook of Frogs and Toads of the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press, 1949.


Basey, Harold E. Discovering Sierra Reptiles and Amphibians. Yosemite Association and Sequoia Natural History Association, 1976, 1991.

Davidson, Carlos. Booklet to the CD Frog and Toad Calls of the Pacific Coast - Vanishing Voices. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, 1995.

Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List which is published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


Organization
Status Listing
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) FPT 4/25/13 Federally Proposd Threatened
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife SSC Species of Special Concern
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service S Sensitive
Natureserve Global Conservation Status Ranks G2 S2 Imperiled
World Conservation Union - IUCN Red List




EN Endangered
 

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