Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Usually greenish, greenish-yellow, or brownish yellow with blotches of dark spots. Like all members of the family Pelobatidae, S. couchii has a black, keratinized spade on its hind feet. This species can be distinguished by its sickle-shaped spade (Stebbins 1985)

See another account at californiaherps.com.

  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Tinsley, R. C. (1995). ''Parasitic disease in amphibians.'' Parasitology, 111(supplement), 25.
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Distribution

Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from southeastern California, east-central Arizona (Mulcahy and Setser 2002), southeastern Colorado, and central Oklahoma south to southern Baja California, Nayarit, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and northern Veracruz in Mexico (Conant and Collins 1991, Stebbins 2003).

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Range Description

This species occurs from southeastern California, southeastern Colorado, and central Oklahoma in the USA, to the tip of Baja California, northern Nayarit, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi and northern Veracruz in Mexico.
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Distribution and Habitat

Occurs from southwest Oklahoma, central New Mexico, and south-central Arizona to the tip of Baja California, Nayarit and south San Luis Potosi; southeast California to central Texas. Some isolated populations are in the vicinity of Petrified Forest National Monument and southeast of La Junta, Otero Co., Colorado. Also, some scattered populations in California between Amos and Ogilby on eastern side of Algodones Dunes; Purgatory and Buzzard’s Peak Washes, Imperial Co.

Scaphiopus couchii is often found in shortgrass plains, mesquite savannah, creosote bush desert, thornforest and tropical deciduous forest (west Mexico) and other areas of low rainfall. Information from Stebbins (1985)

  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Tinsley, R. C. (1995). ''Parasitic disease in amphibians.'' Parasitology, 111(supplement), 25.
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Geographic Range

This species is found in the southwestern United States, extending into Mexico (and including the Baja Peninsula).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Scaphiopus couchii has a stout body and is 2.25 to 3.5 inches (5.6 to 8.8 cm). The color varies from bright green-yellow to brown-yellow. The dorsal surface is mottled with dark green, brown, or black markings, and the dark markings are more extensive in females. The ventral surface is white. The skin is covered with many small warts. The hind limbs have a single, sickle-shaped tubercle, or spade on the inner surface. The pupils are vertical in bright light.

Range length: 2.25 to 3.5 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; radial symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently

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Size

Length: 6 cm

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Type Information

Syntype for Scaphiopus couchii
Catalog Number: USNM 5893
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Cape San Lucas (= Cabo San Lucas), Baja California Sur, Mexico
  • Syntype: Cope, E. D. 1863. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 15: 52.
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Ecology

Habitat

Colorado Plateau Shrublands Habitat

This taxon can be found in the Colorado Plateau shrublands, as one of its North American ecoregions of occurrence. The Plateau is an elevated, northward-tilted saucer landform, characterized by its high elevation and arid to semi-arid climate. Known for the Grand Canyon, it exhibits dramatic topographic relief through the erosive action of high-gradient, swift-flowing rivers that have downcut and incised the plateau. Approximately 90 percent of the plateau is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries, notably the lower catchment of the Green River.

A pinyon-juniper zone is extensive, dominated by a pygmy forest of Pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) and several species of juniper (Juniperus spp). Between the trees the ground is sparsely covered by grama, other grasses, herbs, and various shrubs, such as Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and Alder-leaf cercocarpus (Cercocarpus montanus).

A montane zone extends over large areas on the high plateaus and mountains, but is much smaller than the pinyon-juniper zone. The montane vegetation varies considerably, from Ponderosa pine in the south to Lodgepole pine and Aspen further north. Northern Arizona contains four distinct Douglas-fir habitat types. The lowest zone has arid grasslands but with many bare areas, as well as xeric shrubs and sagebrush. Several species of cacti and yucca are common at low elevations in the south.

Numerous mammalian species are found within the Colorado Plateau shrublands ecoregion, including the Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus); Long-eared chipmunk (Tamias quadrimaculatus); Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens EN); Yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris); and the Uinta chipmunk (Tamias umbrinus), a burrowing omnivore.

A large number of birds are seen in the ecoregion, with representative taxa: Chestnut-collared longspur (Calcarius ornatus NT); Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus NT); Northern pygmy owl (Glaucidium gnoma); Cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus).

There are various snakes occurring within the Colorado Plateau, including: Black-necked garter snake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis), usually found in riparian zones; Plains Blackhead snake (Tantilla nigriceps); Black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus), who seeks inactivity refuge in rock crevices, animal burrows and even woodrat houses. Other reptiles found here include the Common checkered whiptail (Cnemidophorus tesselatus).

There are only a limited number of anuran taxa on the Colorado Plateau; in fact, the comprehensive occcurrence list for the ecoregion is: Red-spotted toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Canyon treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Woodhouse's toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Couch's spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus couchii); Northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens); Plains spadefoot toad (Spea bombifrons); and Southwestern toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus). The Tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) is the sole salamander found on the Colorado Plateau shrublands.

The Colorado River fish fauna display distinctive adaptive radiations. The Humpback chub (Gila cypha), for example, is a highly specialized minnow that lives in the upper Colorado. It adapted to the water’s fast current and its extremes of temperature and flow rate. Dams and water diversion, however, have created a series of placid, stillwater lakes and side streams, and the Humpback chub may not be able to adapt to these altered conditions. The species, along with other native Colorado River fishes including the Bonytail (Gila elegans), Squawfish (Ptychocheilus lucius), and the Flannelmouth sucker (Catostomus latipinnis), may not survive much further in time.

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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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Comments: Habitat includes arid and semi-arid shrublands, shortgrass plains, mesquite savanna, creosote bush desert, thornforest, cultivated areas, and tropical deciduous forest (Mexico). These toads spend most of their time underground or in rodent burrows, except when rains stimulate activirty and bring them to the surface. Females attach eggs to vegetation in shallow ephemeral water resulting from heavy rains.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is commonly found in arid and semi-arid shrublands, short grass plains, mesquite savannah, creosote bush desert, thorn forest, cultivated areas, and tropical deciduous forest (Mexico). Like other Pelobatid species it is considered opportunistic since it appears only when rainfalls form temporary pools. Eggs and larvae develop in these temporary pools. It burrows underground or occupies rodent burrows when inactive.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Scaphiopus couchii lives underground in burrows in grassland prairies and mequite savannas. They dig these burrows in soft earth by backing into the ground and digging with hind feet, which are armed with spades. They rock the body as they dig; dirt falls into the burrows on top of the toads. Scaphiopus couchii seeks shelter under fallen logs and is adapted to arid and semi-arid conditions.

Habitat Regions: terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland

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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.

Individuals migrate up to several hundred meters between upland habitats and breeding sites.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Metamorphosed toads eat various small terrestrial arthropods. Larvae probably eat organic debris, algae, small aquatic invertebrates, and plant tissue.

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Food Habits

Scaphiopus couchii eats mostly insects. Scaphiopus couchii survives ten months of hibernation (during which it does not feed) by utilizing stored lipid reserves predominantly concentrated in coelomic fat bodies.

Animal Foods: insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Scaphiopus couchii is a significant predator in its ecosystem, keeping many kinds of insects (that bother humans) under control.

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Predation

Adults of the parasite Pseudodiplorchis americanus infect breeding toads and feed on the host blood during hibernation. Infected toads that emerge from hibernation have smaller fat bodies than those that are uninfected. Fat body weights increase, however, during a period of foraging; there is no measurable effect after two weeks of feeding. A case study by Tocque has suggested that some toads might not breed or survive hibernation due to this parasitic infection. Therefore, there is potential for these parasites to regulate host populations.

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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 likely exceeds 100,000.

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General Ecology

Monogenean parasite infection may reduce spadefoot reproduction and/or survival (Tocque 1993).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

In the spring males croak to attract females, calling from the rims of temporary pools.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: choruses

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Almost all feeding and breeding activity occur during and shortly after heavy spring and summer rains. Otherwise, these toads stay buried in the ground.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
6.7 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 6.7 years (captivity) Observations: There are estimates that most of the breeding population is between 5 and 10 years old, and the maximum longevity may be 13 years for females and 11 years for males (http://amphibiaweb.org/). Further studies are necessary.
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Reproduction

These toads emerge from the ground and breed explosively after heavy rains in spring or summer. Breeding choruses usually last only 1 day. Females produce a clutch of up to several hundred eggs, divided among several clusters. Eggs and larvae develop quickly, and toadlets leave the pools in only about 1-2 weeks, if breeding pools do not dry up sooner than this. A newly laid Couch's spadefoot egg can develop into a tiny land-dwelling toadlet in only 1-2 weeks.

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Scaphiopus couchii (like other frogs and toads) breeds only during the warmer seasons of the year. Breeding takes place from April to September, usually in temporary rain pools or temporary overflow areas. When their eggs are mature, the females enter the water and are clasped by the males in a process called amplexus. As the female lays the eggs, the male discharges seminal fluid containing sperm over the eggs to fertilize them. The jelly layers absorb water and swell after fertilization. The eggs are laid in large masses, usually anchored to grass or plant stems. Eggs hatch within 36 hours and the tadpoles develop quickly. After the tadpole has undergone metamorphosis (30 to 40 days after the eggs have hatched), the adult S. couchii is ready to reproduce.

Breeding season: Breeding takes place from April to September

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (External ); oviparous

There is no parental investment after egg-laying.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Scaphiopus couchii

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
2004

Assessor/s
Georgina Santos-Barrera, 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, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, 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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Because of the life cycles of Scaphiopus couchii (both aquatic and terrestrial stages), the thin, permeable skin and the underground dwelling, this species is especially sensitive to environmental perturbations. Such environmental problems may include acid rain, increasing ultraviolet irradiation, changes in land and water, and other factors. As always, humans must begin taking greater resonsibility for the world around them.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 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
In the USA there are hundreds of occurrences of this species, and it is locally common. Large populations still occur in northern Mexico and even in central Mexico where more human populations exist.

Population Trend
Stable
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Scaphiopus couchii burrow backwards into the ground to avoid the heat and desiccation common to desert habitats. Toadlets can often remain active longer than adults which hibernate for 9-10 months out of the year about 1 m below the surface. Adults emerge after annual rains arrive, usually in May, and stay active until September. They breed in ephemeral ponds and feed during this terrestrial period, usually on desert invertebrates for no more than 20 nights. It is not uncommon for this species to exhibit phenotypic plasticity for age at metamorphosis and even cannibalistic morphs.

  • Stebbins, R. C. (1985). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Tinsley, R. C. (1995). ''Parasitic disease in amphibians.'' Parasitology, 111(supplement), 25.
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Threats

Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: There are no major threats to this species at present.

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Major Threats
There are no major threats to this species at present.
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Management

Global Protection: Very many (>40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Several populations of this species occur in natural protected areas in the United States and Mexico. The populations occurring outside these reserves have been identified as healthy in most of cases.

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Several populations of this species occur in natural protected areas in the USA and Mexico. The populations occurring outside these reserves have been identified as healthy in most of cases.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The burrows may make land unsuitable for developing and cultivation purposes.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Scaphiopus couchii is a significant predator in its ecosystem, keeping many kinds of insects (that bother humans) under control. While S. couchii may not be the typical "laboratory frog", it certainly has research value for the scientific community, especially in the areas of development and adaptations (such as burrowing). Most importantly, S. couchii constitutes a part of the remaining wild animal life of the world and should be appreciated in terms of biodiversity.

Positive Impacts: research and education; controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Couch's spadefoot toad


The call of the Couch's Spadefoot Toad

Couch's spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus couchii) is a species of North American spadefoot toad. The specific epithet couchii is in honor of American naturalist Darius Nash Couch, who collected the first specimen while on a personal expedition to northern Mexico to collect plant, mineral, and animal specimens for the Smithsonian Institution.[1]

Distribution[edit]

Couch's spade foot toad is native to the southwestern United States, northern Mexico,New Mexico, and the Baja peninsula. They can be found throughout the Sonoran Desert, which includes parts of southern Arizona and California.

Physical description[edit]

Unlike other toads which have horizontal pupils, spadefoot toads have vertical pupils. On the underside of the hind foot is a hard, dark "spade" that gives spadefoot toads their name. These creatures can grow to be 3.5" in length. These "spades" are used by the toads to burrow into the ground to prevent water loss and hide from predators. There are two spadefoot species in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and California. Couch's spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus couchi) has a sickle-shaped "spade", whereas the western spadefoot toad (Spea hammondii) has a rounded "spade". Spadefoots are not true toads and should therefore simply be called spadefoots.[2]

Mating and reproduction[edit]

Water is a necessary medium for the fertilization of spadefoot eggs, and once the eggs hatch, water also provides a place for tadpoles to mature to the adult stage. Because of the importance of water, spadefoots are active during the wet season (spring and summer in the Northern Hemisphere), and remain underground during the dry season (fall and winter). When a summer thunderstorm arrives, the male toads emerge from underground and look for pools of rainwater. When they find water, the males produce a mating call that attracts female toads. Because the pools of water may be short-lived, mating occurs the first night after rainfall begins.

During reproduction, the male mounts the female and releases sperm to fertilize the eggs, which are deposited in the pools of water in the form of a floating mass. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, which quickly mature into adults. They must reach this stage before the pool of water evaporates, and thus they sometimes mature in as little as 9 days after the eggs are laid. Western spadefoot toads take longer to mature (at least three weeks).

The small pools of water are warmed by the sun, which speeds up the growth of the tadpoles. Tadpoles will eat a variety of foods, such as small insects near the pool and algae, which they scrape off rocks. They also filter microorganisms from the water as it is passed over their gills. Tadpoles gather in wriggling masses, stir up the muck on the bottom of the pool, and filter out the organic nutrients. Unlike most tadpoles, which are exclusively herbivores and filter feeders, spadefoot tadpoles are omnivores. They also eat dead insects and tadpoles, as well as fairy shrimp.


References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: 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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