Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Two subspecies, holbrookii and hurterii are recognized. Body size reaches 72 mm in holbrookii and 82mm in hurterii. Both have pectoral glands, distinct tympana and parotoid glands, and curved metatarsal tubercles which are at least three times as long as they are broad. The dorsum is usually marked with two light bands forming an hourglass shape.

  • Wasserman, A. O. (1963). ''Scaphiopus holbrookii (Harlan). Eastern Spadefoot Toad.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 70.1-70.4.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs in the USA from Southern New England across the southern Great Lakes states to southeastern Missouri, south to the Gulf Coast, from eastern Louisiana to southern Florida (absent at higher elevations in Appalachians) (Conant and Collins 1991).
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Distribution and Habitat

S. h. holbrookii ranges from Massachusetts southward throughout Florida nd the Keys, and westward to Oklahoma and Texas. It is restricted essentially to sandy or light soils, and is usually found in desiduous or coastal pine forest. North of Georgia it is found along the Atlantic Coastal PLain and river valleys.
S. h. hurterii ranges from central Louisiana westward to to the Balcones Escarpment of the Edwards Plateau in central Texas, and from the Rio Grande northward into eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas.

  • Wasserman, A. O. (1963). ''Scaphiopus holbrookii (Harlan). Eastern Spadefoot Toad.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 70.1-70.4.
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Geographic Range

The distribution of the Eastern Spadefoot ranges from Southern New England to Florida. The range extends west to parts of Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The northern range borders southern Ohio and Illinois (Conant & Collins, 1998).

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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from Southern New England across the southern Great Lakes states to southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas, and south to the Gulf Coast, from eastern Louisiana to southern Florida (absent at higher elevations in Appalachians)(Conant and Collins 1991).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Scaphiopus holbrooki has a body length between 1 3/4 - 2 1/4 in. although the record was found to be 2 7/8 in. The Eastern Spadefoot, as the name implies, has an elongated spade on each hind foot that is extensively webbed. Only one spade is present on each foot and is usually black, horny, and has a spade-like tubercle on the inner surface (Dundee & Rossman, 1989).

The parotid glands are distinct. No boss in between the eyes. On the back of the toad there are two yellowish lines, one that starts at each eye, that run down the back. The formation of the two lines may resemble that of a distorted hourglass. Most of the species display an additional light line on each side of the body. The ground color of the toad is some sort of brown color, although there have been instances of species that are uniformly black or gray (Conant & Collins, 1998).

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Size

Length: 8 cm

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Type Information

Syntype for Scaphiopus holbrookii
Catalog Number: USNM 52403
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Key West, Monroe, Florida, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Garman, S. W. 1876. Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 25: 194.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Areas of sandy, gravelly, or soft, light soils in wooded or unwooded terrain. Burrows underground when inactive. Eggs and larvae develop in temporary pools formed by heavy rains.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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The Eastern Spadefoot resides in areas that are usually sandy or loose soil. The habitats usually resemble the ones of the more arid regions of the Western Spadefoots.

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

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Comments: Eastern spadefoots occur in areas of sandy, gravelly, or soft, light soils in wooded or unwooded terrain. On land, they range up to at least several hundred meters from breeding sites. When inactive, they remain burrowed in the ground. Eggs and larvae develop in temporary pools formed by heavy rains. Breeding sites include temporary pools and areas flooded by heavy rains.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Migrates up to several hundred meters between breeding pools and nonbreeding terrestrial habitats.

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The Eastern Spadefoot emerges from its burrow at night, usually the nights that are humid to prevent significant water loss. Once at the surface, the toad searches for worms and various arthropods (Dundee & Rossman, 1989). Thus, S. holbrooki would be considered a carnivore.

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Comments: Metamorphosed toads eat various small terrestrial invertebrates. Larvae eat plankton initially, later small aquatic invertebrates and sometimes other amphibian larvae, including conspecifics.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: Represented by many and/or large occurrences throughout most of the range. Probably there are many undiscovered occurrences; this species evades detection via erratic nocturnal activity.

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Global Abundance

100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Secretive; usually more abundant than is apparent. In Florida, Greenberg and Tanner (2005) found that apparently reduced populations of adults during some years clearly reflected suspended breeding activity rather than low densities. The probability that only a portion of the potential adult breeding population actually breeds during any given breeding event further biases population estimates.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Comments: Eastern spadefoots burrow underground in daytime and when conditions are cold or dry but may be active day and night during the brief breeding period.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
12.3 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 12.3 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

The breeding season of the Eastern Spadefoot begins in March and continues through July, depending on the location of the species. Species that live in warmer regions may breed earlier than those located in a colder area (Oliver, 1955).

The beginning of the breeding season is marked by the occurrence of a torrential rainstorm. These rains produce large areas of surface water (temporary water) that is ideal for this species. Another factor that influences the beginning of the breeding season is when males position themselves near the surface water and begin to sing (more on this topic in behavior section).

The fertilized mother produces eggs and the number of eggs are around 200 or more. The eggs are laid in strings amid vegetation. Unlike the true toads (Bufo) these eggs lack the encased tubular gelatinous covering. Development of the eggs must by rapid because the breeding location has a rapid loss of water and the eggs must develop before the water disappears. The larval period may be as quick as 12 days and the maximum period may be up to 40 days.

The tadpoles of Scaphiopus holbrooki can be identified because spadefoots are the only species having a medial anus and a mouth that is not laterally infolded. The appearance of the tadpoles are flattened (meaning that the posterior end is wider than the anterior), bronze in color, and can reach a length of 28-mm (Dundee & Rossman, 1989).

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
730 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
730 days.

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Eastern spadefoots do not have a well-defined breeding season. Instead, they breed whenever heavy rains produce suitable breeding pools and temperatures are above about 45 degrees (F). Breeding occurs often in spring or summer in the north but in any month in the far south (for example, recorded in February, March, June, September, and October in Florida) (Greenberg and Tanner 2004). Breeding aggregations in single pools include dozens to hundreds of adults. Individual females produce a clutch of up to about 2,500 eggs (in several batches). Eggs laid in summer may hatch in 1 day, whereas eggs laid in colder conditons may take 2 weeks or more. The aquatic larvae may form huge aggregations. They metamorphose into the terrestrial form in as little as 2 weeks when conditions are warm and in 8 weeks or more if it is cold (e.g., first emigration 16-29 days after breeding in Florida; Greenberg and Tanner 2004). Over a period of several years, individual breeding pools may produce metamorphs infrequently and at irregular intervals (Greenberg and Tanner 2005). In Florida, maximum lifespan was estimated to be 7 years (Greenberg and Tanner 2005).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2004

Assessor/s
Geoffrey Hammerson

Reviewer/s
Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
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No special status. They are quite a locally abundant species.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread, occurring primarily in the southeastern United States; common in many areas; secure, with local extirpations due to urbanization in the northeastern part of the range.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.

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Population

Population
Many populations known. Probably there are many undiscovered populations; evades detection via erratic nocturnal activity. Secretive; usually more abundant than is apparent. Overall, probably relatively stable.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Overall, probably relatively stable.

Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%

Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, unknown level of decline in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.

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Threats

Major Threats
Urbanization is a known threat in the northeastern USA (Klemens 1993). Pesticide use in conjunction with forest pest management is a potential threat.
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Degree of Threat: Medium

Comments: Urbanization is a known threat in the northeastern United States (Klemens 1993). Pesticide use in conjunction with forest pest management is a potential threat.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Research needed on population status. It occurs in many protected areas.
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Global Protection: Unknown whether any occurrences are appropriately protected and managed

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There is no special economic importance.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There is no special economic importance.

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Wikipedia

Scaphiopus holbrookii

Scaphiopus holbrookii, commonly known as the Eastern spadefoot, is a species of spadefoot endemic to North America.

Geographic range[edit source | edit]

It is found in the southeastern United States, except for mountainous areas, and is also found northward along the Atlantic Coast, through the Mid-Atlantic states, into southern New England, including eastern Massachusetts. It is found in inland states such as Pennsylvania and New York, but only as far westward as the appalacian mountains, and the Hudson River Valley in New York.[4]

Description[edit source | edit]

The average length (head + body) of an adult Eastern spadefoot is 44-57 mm (1¾-2¼ in).

It is brownish with two yellowish stripes on its back. These stripes, which begin on the upper eyelids, may diverge or converge, resulting in a pattern resembling a lyre or an hourglass. Some specimens may be very dark, with less distinct markings.[4]

It has one spur on each of its back feet for burrowing.[5]

Behavior[edit source | edit]

It spends almost all of its life deep underground; coming out only to breed, and sometimes eat. It remains in a type of hibernation almost all its life. It burrows in a spiral, preferring sandy soils.

Etymology[edit source | edit]

The epithet, holbrookii, is in honor of John Edwards Holbrook, American herpetologist.

Links[edit source | edit]

Outdoor Alabama - Eastern Spadefoot

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ Geoffrey Hammerson (2004). Scaphiopus holbrookii. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  2. ^ Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). www.itis.gov.
  3. ^ Amphibian Species of the World 5.5, an Online Reference. research.amnh.org/vz/herpetology/amphibia/.
  4. ^ a b Conant, Roger. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 429 pp. ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (pbk.) (Scaphiopus holbrooki holbrooki, p. 299 + Plate 44 + Map 253.)
  5. ^ eNature: FieldGuides: Species Detail
An American Eastern spadefoot.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Scaphiopus hurterii formerly was regarded as a subspecies of S. holbrookii, but recent checklists (Crother et al. 2000, Collins and Taggart 2002) have treated it as a distinct species.

Garcia-Paris et al. (2003) used mtDNA to examine the phylogentic relationships of Pelobatoidea and found that the family Pelobatidae, as previously defined, is not monophyletic (Pelobates is sister to Megophryidae, not to Spea/Scaphiopus). They split the Pelobatidae into two families: Eurasian spadefoot toads (Pelobates), which retain the name Pelobatidae, and North American spadefoot toads (Scaphiopus, Spea), which make up the revived family Scaphiopodidae.

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