WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to increase the amount of critical habitat for the arroyo toad by 97,000 acres, bringing the total designated critical habitat to over 100,000 acres.
A review of taxonomic data indicated that the species has more members, spread over a larger area, than previously thought.
The arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus), has been subject to changes in its taxonomy since it was first described in 1915. When listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1994 the animal was identified as Bufo microscaphus californicus. Recent enzyme analysis and genetic studies indicate that more than one species of toad existed under the 1994 designation and that one of those species contained another subgroup, not previously connected to the arroyo toad, which was spread over Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego Counties, in California.
The arroyo toad is small, light olive green or gray to light brown in color with dark spots and a distinctive light-colored, V-shaped stripe across the head and the eyelids. The toad is principally endangered by suburban development, which has destroyed the amphibian’s preferred breeding habitat of slow-moving streams with shallow pools, nearby sandbars, and terraces next to streams. The agency is seeking public comment on the proposed revision of the toad’s critical habitat designation.