Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Spea multiplicata has no boss between the eyes, and the eyelids are wider than the space between them. The dorsal color is uniformly brown or dark gray with small dark spots or blotches and red-tipped tubercles scattered over the dorsum, and no dorsolateral stripes are present. A short wedge-shaped spade is present on each hind foot. The iris is slightly variegated and appears pale copper colored. Male vocal sacs appear as a dark, heavily pigmented area on the throat (Conant and Collins 1991).

The body of the tadpole is broadest just behind the eyes, tapering gradually towards the bottom of the tadpole and tapering sharply towards the top. It has a short snout, and a tail that is about 1 1/3 - 1 1/4 times the head-body length that has its greatest width near the midpoint. The dorsal fin originates posteriorly on the body. The eyes are close together and well up on the head, and the anus is medial, emerging in the base of the ventral fin. The spiracle is low on the left side, belove the lateral axis of the body (Stebbins 1962).

Similar species: S. multiplicata can be easily mistaken for Spea bombifrons. Newly metamorphosed toadlets which have been in preservative for long periods of time are difficult to distinguish. S. multiplicata lacks a frontal boss, unlike adult S. bombifrons, but these two species frequently hybridize making this characteristic unreliable at times (Simovich 1994). S. multiplicata can be distinguished from Scaphiopus couchii by coloration: brown or dark grey with red-tipped tubercles in S. multiplicata, vs. greenish-yellow dorsum with dark mottling in Scaphiopus couchii (Degenhardt et al. 1996).

  • Brown, H. A. (1976). ''The status of California and Arizona populations of the Western Spadefoot Toads (genus Scaphiopus).'' Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Contributions in Science, 286, 1-15.
  • Conant, R. and Collins, J. T. (1991). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Degenhardt, W.G., Painter, C.W., and Price, A.H. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
  • Sattler, P.W. (1980). ''Genetic relationships among selected species of North American Scaphiopus.'' Copeia, 1980(4), 605-610.
  • Simovich, M. A. (1994). ''The dynamics of a spadefoot toad (Spea multiplicata and S. bombifrons) hybridization system.'' Herpetology of North American Deserts. P. R. Brown and J. W. Wright, eds., Special Publication No. 5, Southwestern Herpetologists Society, Los Angeles.
  • Smith, H. M. (1978). A Guide to Field Identification: Amphibians of North America. Golden Press, New York.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1962). Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Tanner, W. W. (1989). ''Status of Spea stagnalis Cope (1875), Spea intermontanus Cope (1889), and a systematic review of Spea hammondii Baird (1839) (Amphibia: Anura).'' Great Basin Naturalist, 49, 503-510.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs from southeastern Utah, southern Colorado, and northern Oklahoma south through Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas in the USA, to Guerrero and Oaxaca (Stebbins 1985, Conant and Collins 1991) in Mexico. It is found up to about 2,470m asl in some areas.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from southeastern Utah, southern Colorado, and northern Oklahoma south through Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas in the United States, to Guerrero and Oaxaca (Stebbins 1985, Conant and Collins 1991) in Mexico. Elevational range extends up to about 2,470 meters in some areas.

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Distribution and Habitat

S. multiplicata ranges from western Oklahoma to Arizona (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Texas) and far south into Mexico (Conant and Collins 1991).

S. multiplicata can be found in various habitats, including grasslands, sagebrush flats, semi-arid shrublands, river valleys, and agricultural lands. It is sometimes found on roads following summer thundershowers (Degenhardt et al. 1996).

  • Brown, H. A. (1976). ''The status of California and Arizona populations of the Western Spadefoot Toads (genus Scaphiopus).'' Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Contributions in Science, 286, 1-15.
  • Conant, R. and Collins, J. T. (1991). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Degenhardt, W.G., Painter, C.W., and Price, A.H. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
  • Sattler, P.W. (1980). ''Genetic relationships among selected species of North American Scaphiopus.'' Copeia, 1980(4), 605-610.
  • Simovich, M. A. (1994). ''The dynamics of a spadefoot toad (Spea multiplicata and S. bombifrons) hybridization system.'' Herpetology of North American Deserts. P. R. Brown and J. W. Wright, eds., Special Publication No. 5, Southwestern Herpetologists Society, Los Angeles.
  • Smith, H. M. (1978). A Guide to Field Identification: Amphibians of North America. Golden Press, New York.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1962). Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Tanner, W. W. (1989). ''Status of Spea stagnalis Cope (1875), Spea intermontanus Cope (1889), and a systematic review of Spea hammondii Baird (1839) (Amphibia: Anura).'' Great Basin Naturalist, 49, 503-510.
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Physical Description

Size

Length: 6 cm

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Type Information

Syntype for Spea multiplicata
Catalog Number: USNM 16207
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Silao de La Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico
  • Syntype: Brocchi, M. P. 1879. Bulletin de la Société Philomathique de Paris, Series 7. 3: 23.
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Syntype for Spea multiplicata
Catalog Number: USNM 16206
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Silao de La Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico
  • Syntype: Brocchi, M. P. 1879. Bulletin de la Société Philomathique de Paris, Series 7. 3: 23.
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Syntype for Spea multiplicata
Catalog Number: USNM 16205
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Silao de La Victoria, Guanajuato, Mexico
  • Syntype: Brocchi, M. P. 1879. Bulletin de la Société Philomathique de Paris, Series 7. 3: 23.
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Holotype for Spea multiplicata
Catalog Number: USNM 3694
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Valley of Mexico, Mexico
  • Holotype: Cope, E. D. 1863. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 15: 52.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is frequently found in desert grassland, short grass plains, creosote bush, sagebrush, and semi-desert shrublands, mixed grassland/chaparral, pinyon-juniper and pine-oak woodland and open pine forest. Similar to other Scaphiopodid species, this species is considered opportunistic. It burrows underground or occupies rodent burrows when inactive. Eggs and larvae develop in temporary pools and ponds formed by heavy rains.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Comments: This species is frequently found in desert grassland, shortgrass plains, creosote bush, sagebrush, and semi-desert shrublands, mixed grassland/chaparral, pinyon-juniper and pine-oak woodland and open pine forest. Similar to other Pelobatid species, this species is considered opportunistic. It burrows underground or occupies rodent burrows when inactive. Eggs and larvae develop in temporary pools and ponds formed 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 between breeding pools and nonbreeding terrestrial habitats.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Metamorphosed toads eat various small arthropods. Larvae probably eat suspended matter, organic debris, algae, plant tissue, and small aquatic invertebrates. There are two larval morphs, a carnivorous one that subsists principally on fairy shrimp, and an omnivorous one that consumes fewer fairy shrimp and more detritus and algae; morphology depends on diet (Pfennig 1992).

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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.

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Global Abundance

100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 100,000.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Comments: Active at night, usually during humid or wet periods of spring and summer. Active late March-September in northern Texas.

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Reproduction

Lays clutch of up to several hundred eggs after heavy rains in spring or summer. Breeding choruses usually last 1-2 days. Larvae hatch within about 2 days, metamorphose in about 2-6 weeks (Pfennig et al. 1991). Ponds commonly dry up prior to metamorphosis, resulting in complete larval mortality.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Spea multiplicata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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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
2010

Assessor/s
Georgina Santos-Barrera, Geoffrey Hammerson, Paulino Ponce-Campos

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, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

History
  • 2004
    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

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.

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Population

Population
This species is widespread and locally common. It is the most widespread species of Spea in Mexico with numerous populations in Central Mexico, even adjacent to human settlements and urbanised areas.

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

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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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

This species is largely nocturnal and secretive, and during the summer rainy season can be found hidden under surface objects. It usually occupies an underground burrow that it digs in the soft earth with its hind feet, like other spadefoots in New Mexico. The hind feet are equipped with keratinized, sharp-edged spades. It is often seen on roadways during the night, in search of breeding sites or prey. S. multiplicata may secrete a musty skin toxin when it is molested. The toxin smells like raw peanuts and can irritate the sensitive membranes of the eyes and nose of those who rub their face after handling a spadefoot (Degenhardt et al. 1996).

S. multiplicata breeding, like that of other spadefoots, is closely associated with the summer monsoon rains that fill playa lakes and cause the rapid formation of pools in low-lying areas. The low frequency sound and vibration of rainfall or thunder are the primary cues for emergence. Average breeding period duration is only about 1.6 days. Males usually call while they are floating on the surface of the water. Eggs are fertilized by the male as they are laid during amplexus. There is a high level of variation in clutch size within breeding aggregations, but an adult female lays about 1,070 eggs on average. Eggs are deposited in cylindrical masses that are attached to submerged aquatic vegetation or debris. They hatch in as little as 42-48 hours. The tadpoles metamorphosize in about three weeks, and toadlets emerge from the drying pond and disperse (Degenhardt et al. 1996).

S. multiplicata is a generalized arthropod predator that concentrates on ground dwelling species, as do most spadefoots. Beetles, orthopterans, ants, spiders, and termites comprise over 90% of their total diet, with no major differences in diet by sex or season. Arthropods with well known chemical defenses, such as blister beetles, velvet ants, stink bugs, and millipedes, are usually avoided by S. multiplicata, but it will occasionally feed on centipedes and scorpions. Studies have shown that S. multiplicata may require seven feedings before it has accumulated the fat reserves required to survive for 12 months (Degenhardt et al. 1996).

The call is a vibrant, metallic trill that sounds like running a fingernail along the stiff teeth of a comb. Each of these trills is about 0.75 - 1.5 seconds long (Conant and Collins 1991).

  • Brown, H. A. (1976). ''The status of California and Arizona populations of the Western Spadefoot Toads (genus Scaphiopus).'' Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Contributions in Science, 286, 1-15.
  • Conant, R. and Collins, J. T. (1991). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Degenhardt, W.G., Painter, C.W., and Price, A.H. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
  • Sattler, P.W. (1980). ''Genetic relationships among selected species of North American Scaphiopus.'' Copeia, 1980(4), 605-610.
  • Simovich, M. A. (1994). ''The dynamics of a spadefoot toad (Spea multiplicata and S. bombifrons) hybridization system.'' Herpetology of North American Deserts. P. R. Brown and J. W. Wright, eds., Special Publication No. 5, Southwestern Herpetologists Society, Los Angeles.
  • Smith, H. M. (1978). A Guide to Field Identification: Amphibians of North America. Golden Press, New York.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1962). Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Tanner, W. W. (1989). ''Status of Spea stagnalis Cope (1875), Spea intermontanus Cope (1889), and a systematic review of Spea hammondii Baird (1839) (Amphibia: Anura).'' Great Basin Naturalist, 49, 503-510.
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Threats

Major Threats
In some areas, local populations have been eliminated or reduced by agricultural development, urbanization, and other habitat alterations, but most of its habitat is not significantly threatened.
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Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: In some areas, local populations have been eliminated or reduced by agricultural development and other habitat alterations, but most habitat is not significantly threatened.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
No conservation measures are needed for this species. The species' range in Mexico and the USA includes several protected areas.
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Wikipedia

New Mexico spadefoot toad

The New Mexico Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata) is a species of American spadefoot toad found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. Like other species of spadefoot toad, they get their name from a distinctive spade-like projections on their hind legs which enable them to dig in sandy soils. Some sources also refer to the species as the Mexican Spadefoot Toad, Desert Spadefoot Toad or Southern Spadefoot Toad.

Description[edit]

The New Mexico Spadefoot Toad grows from 1.5 to 2.5 inches in length, and has a round body, with relatively short legs. They are green, to grey, to brown, usually reflecting the soil color of their native habitat, often with black and orange colored speckling on their back, and a white underside. They have large eyes, with vertical pupils.

Behavior[edit]

Like all species of spadefoot toad, the New Mexico Spadefoot Toad is nocturnal and secretive. If handled, these frogs might emit a peanutlike odor, which can cause tearing and nasal discharge if in close contact with the face. Spending most of its time buried in the ground, the spadefoot emerges during periods of summer rainfall to feed on insects and to breed. Breeding takes place in temporary pools left by the rain. Eggs laid in large masses, often hatch in as little as 48 hours. The tadpoles are forced to metamorphose quickly, before the water dries up.

Taxonomy[edit]

The species was once classified as a subspecies of the Western Spadefoot Toad, Spea hammondii, but distinctive morphological characteristics led researchers to reclassify it as its own species. The New Mexico Spadefoot Toad is also known to hybridize with the Plains Spadefoot Toad, Spea bombifrons in the areas where their ranges overlap, making distinguishing the species from each other difficult.

Trivia[edit]

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Placed in the genus SCAPHIOPUS by some authors. Hall (1998) argued against the recognition of SPEA as a distinct genus, but most authors have accepted the split of SPEA from SCAPHIOPUS.

Wiens and Titus (1991) presented a phylogenetic analysis of the genus (or subgenus) SPEA based on allozymic and morphological data.

Regarded as conspecific with S. HAMMONDII until 1976 (Brown 1976); retained within HAMMONDII by some authors (Tanner 1989), but various data support the contention that these are distinct species. In Tanner (1989), the name MULTIPLICATUS (as a subspecies) is associated with populations in the mountains and plateaus of Chihuahua and Durango; southwestern U.S. populations that recently have been referred to as S. MULTIPLICATA are called S. HAMMONDII STAGNALIS (hence SCAPHIOPUS [or SPEA] STAGNALIS if regarded as a species distinct from populations of HAMMONDII in California and Baja California). Sometimes hybridizes with S. BOMBIFRONS (Sattler 1985).

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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