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).

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

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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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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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).

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Sonoran Desert Habitat

This taxon is found in the Sonoran Desert, which comprises much of the state of Sonora, Mexico, most of the southern half of the USA states of Arizona, southeastern California, most of the Baja California peninsula, and the numerous islands of the Gulf of California. Its southern third straddles 30° north latitude and is a horse latitude desert; the rest is rainshadow desert. It is lush in comparison to most other deserts. There is a moderate diversity of faunal organisms present, with 550 distinct vertebrate species having been recorded here.

The visually dominant elements of the landscape are two lifeforms that distinguish the Sonoran Desert from the other North American deserts: legume trees and large columnar cacti. This desert also supports many other organisms, encompassing a rich spectrum of some 2000 species of plants, 550 species of vertebrates, and untolled thousands of invertebrate species.

The Sonoran Desert prominently differs from the other three deserts of North America in having mild winters. Most of the area rarely experiences frost, and the biota are partly tropical in origin. Many of the perennial plants and animals are derived from ancestors in the tropical thorn-scrub to the south, their life cycles attuned to the brief summer rainy season. The winter rains, when ample, support great populations of annuals (which make up nearly half of the plant species). Some of the plants and animals are opportunistic, growing or reproducing after significant rainfall in any season.

Creosote Bush (Larrea divaricata) and White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) vegetation characterize the lower Colorado River Valley section of the Sonoran. The Arizona upland section to the north and east is more mesic, resulting in greater species diversity and richness. Lower elevation areas are dominated by dense communities of Creosote Bush and White Bursage, but on slopes and higher portions of bajadas, subtrees such as palo verde (Cercidium floridum, C. microphyllum) and Ironwood (Olneya tesota), saguaros (Carnegiea gigantia), and other tall cacti are abundant. Cresosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) and White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) form the scrub that dominates the northwest part of the Sonoran Desert. This association thrives on deep, sandy soils in the flatlands. Where the dunes allow for slight inclination of the slope, species of Mesquite (Prosopis), Cercidium, Ironwood (Olneya tesota), Candalia, Lycium, Prickly-pear (Opuntia), Fouquieria, Burrobush (Hymenoclea) and Acacia are favored. The coastal plains of Sonora are composed of an almost pure Larrea scrub. Away from the Gulf influence in the area surrounding the Pinacate, Encelia farinosa, Larrea tridentataOlneya, Cercidium, Prosopis, Fouquieria and various cacti species dominate the desert.

Many wildlife species, such as Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra sonoriensis EN), Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) and the endemic Bailey's Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus baileyi) use ironwood, cacti species and other vegetation as both shelter from the harsh climate as well as a water supply. Other mammals include predators such as Puma (Felis concolor), Coyote (Canis latrans) and prey such as Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), and the Round-tailed Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus tereticaudus). Other mammals able to withstand the extreme desert climate of this ecoregion include California Leaf-nosed Bat (Macrotus californicus) and Ring-tailed Cat (Bassariscus astutus).

Three endemic lizards to the Sonoran Desert are: the Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma inornata EN); the Flat-tail Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii NT); and the Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma notata NT); an endemic whiptail is the San Esteban Island Whiptail (Cnemidophorus estebanensis). Non-endemic special status reptiles in the ecoregion include the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii VU) and the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum NT).

There are twenty-four  anuran species occurring in the Sonoran Desert, one of which is endemic, the Sonoran Green Toad (Anaxyrus retiformis). Other anurans in the ecoregion are: California Treefrog (Pseudacris cadaverina); Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Lowland Burrowing Frog (Smilisca fodiens); Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia); Sabinal Frog (Leptodactylus melanonotus); Northwest Mexico Leopard Frog (Lithobates magnaocularis); Brown's Leopard Frog (Lithobates brownorum); Yavapai Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Mexican Cascade Frog (Lithobates pustulosus); Mexican Leaf Frog (Pachymedusa dacnicolor); Red Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Sinaloa Toad (Incilius mazatlanensis); Sonoran Desert Toad (Incilius alvarius); Eastern Green Toad  (Anaxyrus debilis); New Mexico Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii); Cane Toad (Rhinella marina); Elegant Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne elegans);  Little Mexican Toad (Anaxyrus kelloggi); Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea); and Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii).

The Sonoran Desert is recognized as an exceptional birding area. Forty-one percent (261 of 622) of all terrestrial bird species found in the USA can be seen here during some season of the year. The Sonoran Desert, together with its eastern neighbor the Chihuahuan Desert, is the richest area in in the USA for birds, particularly hummingbirds. Among the bird species found in the Sonoran Desert are the saguaro-inhabiting Costa's Hummingbird (Calypte costae), Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura), Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) and Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygualis). Perhaps the most well-known Sonoran bird is the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), distinguished by its preference for running rather than flying, as it hunts scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, lizards, and other prey. The Sonoran Desert exhibits two endemic bird species, the highest level of bird endemism in the USA. The Rufous-winged Sparrow (Aimophila carpalis) is rather common in most parts of the Sonoran, but only along the central portion of the Arizona-Mexico border, seen in desert grasses admixed with brush. Rare in extreme southern Arizona along the Mexican border, the endemic Five-striped Sparrow (Aimophila quinquestriata) is predominantly found in canyons on hillsides and slopes among tall, dense scrub.

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Sierra Madre Oriental Pine-oak Forests Habitat

This taxon is found in the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests, which exhibit a very diverse community of endemic and specialized species of plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. These high mountains run north to south, beginning in the USA and ending in Mexico. The Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests are a highly disjunctive ecoregion, owing to the fact that they are present only at higher elevations, within a region with considerable expanses of lower elevation desert floor.

The climate is temperate humid on the northeastern slope, and temperate sub-humid on the western slope and highest portions of the mountain range. Pine-oak forest habitat covers most of the region, even though most of the primary forest has been destroyed or degraded. However, the wettest portions house a community of cloud forests that constitute the northernmost patches of this vegetation in Mexico. The forests grow on soils derived from volcanic rocks that have a high content of organic matter. The soils of lower elevations are derived from sedimentary rocks, and some of them are formed purely of limestone. In the northernmost portions of the ecoregion, the forests occur on irregular hummocks that constitute biological "islands" of temperate forest in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. To the south, from Nuevo León southward until Guanajuato and Queretaro, the ecoregion is more continuous along the mainstem of the Sierra Madre Oriental.

Dominant tree species include the pines: the endemic Nelson's Pine (Pinus nelsonii), Mexican Pinyon (P. cembroides), Smooth-bark Mexican Pine (P. pseudostrobus), and Arizona Pine (P. arizonica); and the oaks Quercus castanea and Q. affinis. In mesic environments, the most common species are P. cembroides, and Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana), but in more xeric environments on the west slopes of the mountains, the endemic P. pinceana is more abundant. Gregg's Pine (P. greggii) and Jelecote Pine (P. patula) are endemic.

Many mammalian species wander these rugged hills. Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Puma (Puma concolor), Cliff Chipmunk (Tamias dorsalis), Collared Peccary (Tayassu tajacu), Coati (Nasua narica), Jaguar (Panthera onca) and Coyote (Canis latrans) are a few of the many diverse mammals that inhabit this ecoregion. Some threatened mammals found in the ecoregion are: Bolaños Woodrat (Neotoma palatina VU); Diminutive Woodrat (Nelsonia neotomodon NT), known chiefly from the western versant of the Sierra Madre; Chihuahuan Mouse (Peromyscus polius NT); and Mexican Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris nivalis EN).

A considerable number of reptilian taxa are found in the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests, including three endemic snakes: Ridgenose Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi); Fox´s Mountain Meadow Snake (Adelophis foxi); and the Longtail Rattlesnake (Crotalus stejnegeri VU), restricted to the central Sierra Madre. An endemic skink occurring in the ecoregion is the Fair-headed Skink (Plestiodon callicephalus). The Striped Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus virgatus) is endemic to the ecoregion. The Sonoran Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense VU) is found in the ecoregion and ranges from southwestern New Mexico south to northwestern Chihuahua.

The following anuran taxa occur in the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests: Red-spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Cane Toad (Rhinella marina); Elegant Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne elegans); New Mexico Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata); Sinaloa Toad (Incilius mazatlanensis); Pine Toad (Incilius occidentalis); Southwestern Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus); Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); Plateau Toad (Anaxyrus compactilis); Texas Toad (Anaxyrus speciosus); Sonoran Desert Toad (Incilius alvarius), found only at lower ecoregion elevations here; Rana-ladrona Silbadora (Eleutherodactylus teretistes); Sabinal Frog (Leptodactylus melanonotus); Mexican Leaf Frog (Pachymedusa dacnicolor); Montezuma Leopard Frog (Lithobates montezumae); Yavapai Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Northwest Mexico Leopard Frog (Lithobates magnaocularis); Bigfoot Leopard Frog (Lithobates megapoda), who generally breeds in permanent surface water bodies; Mexican Cascade Frog (Lithobates pustulosus); Tarahumara Frog (Lithobates tarahumarae VU); Western Barking Frog (Craugastor augusti); Lowland Burrowing Frog (Smilisca fodiens); Taylor's Barking Frog (Craugastor occidentalis); Blunt-toed Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus modestus VU), found only at the very lowest elevations of the ecoregion; Shiny Peeping Frog (Eleutherodactylus nitidus); California Chorus Frog (Pseudacris cadaverina); Rio Grande Frog (Lithobates berlandieri); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia); Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii); Dwarf Mexican Treefrog (Tlalocohyla smithii); Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Northern Sheep Frog (Hypopachus variolosus); Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis). There are three salamanders found in the ecoregion: the endemic Sacramento Mountains Salamander (Aneides hardii), found only in very high montane reaches above 2400 meters; Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum); and the Tarahumara Salamander (Ambystoma rosaceum).

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Chihuahuan Desert Habitat

This taxon is found in the Chihuahuan Desert, which is one of the most biologically diverse arid regions on Earth. This ecoregion extends from within the United States south into Mexico. This desert is sheltered from the influence of other arid regions such as the Sonoran Desert by the large mountain ranges of the Sierra Madres. This isolation has allowed the evolution of many endemic species; most notable is the high number of endemic plants; in fact, there are a total of 653 vertebrate taxa recorded in the Chihuahuan Desert.  Moreover, this ecoregion also sustains some of the last extant populations of Mexican Prairie Dog, wild American Bison and Pronghorn Antelope.

The dominant plant species throughout the Chihuahuan Desert is Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata). Depending on diverse factors such as type of soil, altitude, and degree of slope, L. tridentata can occur in association with other species. More generally, an association between L. tridentata, American Tarbush (Flourensia cernua) and Viscid Acacia (Acacia neovernicosa) dominates the northernmost portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. The meridional portion is abundant in Yucca and Opuntia, and the southernmost portion is inhabited by Mexican Fire-barrel Cactus (Ferocactus pilosus) and Mojave Mound Cactus (Echinocereus polyacanthus). Herbaceous elements such as Gypsum Grama (Chondrosum ramosa), Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and Hairy Grama (Chondrosum hirsuta), among others, become dominant near the Sierra Madre Occidental. In western Coahuila State, Lecheguilla Agave (Agave lechuguilla), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), Purple Prickly-pear (Opuntia macrocentra) and Rainbow Cactus (Echinocereus pectinatus) are the dominant vascular plants.

Because of its recent origin, few warm-blooded vertebrates are restricted to the Chihuahuan Desert scrub. However, the Chihuahuan Desert supports a large number of wide-ranging mammals, such as the Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana), Robust Cottontail (Sylvilagus robustus EN); Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Grey Fox (Unocyon cineroargentinus), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Collared Peccary or Javelina (Pecari tajacu), Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni), Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), Kangaroo Rats (Dipodomys sp.), pocket mice (Perognathus spp.), Woodrats (Neotoma spp.) and Deer Mice (Peromyscus spp). With only 24 individuals recorded in the state of Chihuahua Antilocapra americana is one of the most highly endangered taxa that inhabits this desert. The ecoregion also contains a small wild population of the highly endangered American Bison (Bison bison) and scattered populations of the highly endangered Mexican Prairie Dog (Cynomys mexicanus), as well as the Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus).

The Chihuahuan Desert herpetofauna typifies this ecoregion.Several lizard species are centered in the Chihuahuan Desert, and include the Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum); Texas Banded Gecko (Coleonyx brevis), often found under rocks in limestone foothills; Reticulate Gecko (C. reticulatus); Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus); several species of spiny lizards (Scelopoprus spp.); and the Western Marbled Whiptail (Cnemidophorus tigris marmoratus). Two other whiptails, the New Mexico Whiptail (C. neomexicanus) and the Common Checkered Whiptail (C. tesselatus) occur as all-female parthenogenic clone populations in select disturbed habitats.

Representative snakes include the Trans-Pecos Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis), Texas Blackhead Snake (Tantilla atriceps), and Sr (Masticophis taeniatus) and Neotropical Whipsnake (M. flagellum lineatus). Endemic turtles include the Bolsón Tortoise (Gopherus flavomarginatus), Coahuilan Box Turtle (Terrapene coahuila) and several species of softshell turtles. Some reptiles and amphibians restricted to the Madrean sky island habitats include the Ridgenose Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi), Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (C. pricei), Northern Cat-eyed Snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis), Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus jarrovii), and Canyon Spotted Whiptail (Cnemidophorus burti).

There are thirty anuran species occurring in the Chihuahuan Desert: Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Rana chircahuaensis); Red Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus); Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans); Rio Grande Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus cystignathoides); Cliff Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus marnockii); Spotted Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus guttilatus); Tarahumara Barking Frog (Craugastor tarahumaraensis); Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia); Montezuma Leopard Frog (Lithobates montezumae); Brown's Leopard Frog (Lithobates brownorum); Yavapai Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Western Barking Frog (Craugastor augusti); Mexican Cascade Frog (Lithobates pustulosus); Lowland Burrowing Frog (Smilisca fodiens); New Mexico Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata); Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons); Pine Toad (Incilius occidentalis); Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii); Plateau Toad (Anaxyrus compactilis); Texas Toad (Anaxyrus speciosus); Dwarf Toad (Incilius canaliferus); Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); Eastern Green Toad (Anaxyrus debilis); Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius valliceps); and Longfoot Chirping Toad (Eleutherodactylus longipes VU). The sole salamander occurring in the Chihuahuan Desert is the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum).

Common bird species include the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), and the rare Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus). Geococcyx californianus), Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostra), Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata), Scott’s Oriole (Icterus parisorum), Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata), Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), Worthen’s Sparrow (Spizella wortheni), and Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus). In addition, numerous raptors inhabit the Chihuahuan Desert and include the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) and the Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi).

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Arizona Mountains Forests Habitat

This taxon is found in the Arizona Mountain Forests, which extend from the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona to south of the Mogollon Plateau into portions of southwestern Mexico and eastern Arizona, USA. The species richness in this ecoregion is moderate, with vertebrate taxa numbering 375 species. The topography consists chiefly of steep foothills and mountains, but includes some deeply dissected high plateaus. Soil types have not been well defined; however, most soils are entisols, with alfisols and inceptisols in upland areas. Stony terrain and rock outcrops occupy large areas on the mountains and foothills.

The Transition Zone in this region (1980 to 2440 m in elevation) comprises a strong Mexican fasciation, including Chihuahua Pine (Pinus leiophylla) and Apache Pine (P. engelmannii) and unique varieties of Ponderosa Pine (P. ponderosa var. arizonica). Such forests are open and park-like and contain many bird species from Mexico seldom seen in the U.S.. The Canadian Zone (above 2000 m) includes mostly Rocky Mountain species of mixed-conifer communities such as Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmanni), Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa), and Corkbark Fir (A. lasiocarpa var. arizonica). Dwarf Juniper (Juniperus communis) is an understory shrubby closely associated with spruce/fir forests. Exposed sites include Chihuahua White Pine (Pinus strobiformis), while disturbed north-facing sites consists primarily of Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) or Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides).

There are a variety of mammalian species found in this ecoregion, including the endemic Arizona Gray Squirrel (Sciurus arizonensis), an herbivore who feeds on a wide spectrum of berries, bark and other vegetable material. Non-endemic mammals occurring in the ecoregion include: the Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys spectabilis NT); Desert Pocket Gopher (Geomys arenarius NT). In addition, there is great potential for restoring Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus) and Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) populations in the area because of its remoteness and juxtaposition to other ecoregions where these species were formerly prevalent.

There are few amphibians found in the Arizona mountain forests. Anuran species occurring here are: Red-spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Southwestern Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus); New Mexico Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata); Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens); Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis VU); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia), a montane anuran found at the northern limit of its range in this ecoregion; Boreal Chorus Frog (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata); and Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor). The Jemez Mountains Salamander (Plethodon neomexicanus NT) is an ecoregion endemic, found only in the Jemez Mountains of Los Alamos and Sandoval counties, New Mexico. Another salamander occurring in the ecoregion is the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum).

A number of reptilian taxa occur in the Arizona mountains forests, including: Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum NT), often associated with cacti or desert scrub type vegetation; Narrow-headed Garter Snake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus), a near-endemic found chiefly in the Mogollon Rim area; Sonoran Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense NT).

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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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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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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

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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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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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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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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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).

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

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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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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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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