Anaxyrus baxteri - (Porter, 1968)
Wyoming Toad
Synonym(s): Bufo baxteri Porter, 1964 ;Bufo hemiophrys baxteri
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Anaxyrus baxteri (Porter, 1968) (TSN 773512)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101600
Element Code: AAABB01220
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Frogs and Toads
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Anura Bufonidae Anaxyrus
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Smith, H. M., D. Chiszar, J. T. Collins, and F. van Breukelen. 1998. The taxonomic status of the Wyoming toad, Bufo baxteri Porter. Contemporary Herpetology 1998(1):http//alpha.selv.edu/ch/1998/1
Concept Reference Code: A98SMI01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Bufo baxteri
Taxonomic Comments: The genus Anaxyrus was split from Bufo by Frost et al. (2006). However, taxonomy within the genus Bufo remains controversial and many references still use the long-established Bufo.

Recognized as a distinct species by Smith et al. (1998).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 21Nov2018
Global Status Last Changed: 11Oct2001
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Very small range in the Laramie Basin, Wyoming and considered extinct in the wild due to reliance on captive-releases; threats include chytrid fungal infection, prolonged drought, incompatible land use.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (05Nov1996)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Wyoming (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (04May1973)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R6 - Rocky Mountain
IUCN Red List Category: EW - Extinct in the wild

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: <100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Commonly found historically across 1820 sq km of the Laramie Basin in Albany County, Wyoming. Now restricted to Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge and release sites created under Safe Harbor Agreements. All wild-occurring toads are considered the product of reintroductions that started in 1989 (USFWS 2015).

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: Extant only at Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge and two private land sites protected under the Wyoming Toad Safe Harbor Agreement (USFWS 2015). National Public Radio reported five total sites as of 2017, though none are considered self-sustaining.

Population Size: 250 - 2500 individuals
Population Size Comments: 1500 toads exist across 5 sites (NPR 2017); numbers fluctuate dramatically year-to-year.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: None (zero)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Extant occurrences dependent on release of captive-bred individuals

Overall Threat Impact: Very high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Mortenson Lake site is infected with the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) (USFWS 2002). This fungus has been implicated in declines and extinctions of amphibian species worldwide. Retrospective analysis shows that the fungus has been present at Mortenson Lake since at least 1989. In addition, chytridiomycosis is the most commonly seen disease in the captive population. Predation, pesticide use, irrigation practices, and lack of genetic diversity may also limit the abundance of Wyoming toads in the Laramie Basin (USFWS 2015). Mortenson Lake has become more saline (and less suitable for toads) as a result of drought-related increases in evaporation (USFWS 2002).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <90% to Relatively Stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Wild population fluctuates and is tenuous with "very little wild breeding to date" (USFWS 2015).

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: Large decline. Common in the 1950s; large decline in the 1960s and 1970s; thought to be extinct in the wild in the mid-1980s; found at Mortenson Lake in 1987; captive propagation began in the mid-1990s using toads from Mortenson Lake (USFWS 2002).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (<100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)) Commonly found historically across 1820 sq km of the Laramie Basin in Albany County, Wyoming. Now restricted to Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge and release sites created under Safe Harbor Agreements. All wild-occurring toads are considered the product of reintroductions that started in 1989 (USFWS 2015).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States WY

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: IUCN, Conservation International, NatureServe, and collaborators, 2004


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
WY Albany (56001)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
10 Medicine Bow (10180004)+, Upper Laramie (10180010)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A two-inch toad.
Reproduction Comments: Lays eggs generally from mid-May to mid-June. Larvae metamorphose by early August. Females in the wild likely first breed when 2-3 years old. Breeding aggregations generally are small.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Movements appear to be limited but have not been well studied.
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: Historically associated with floodplain ponds along the Big and Little Laramie Rivers; use of lakes may have been limited due to saline conditions; irrigation may have flushed out the lakes and made them more suitable for toads (George Baxter). Currently occurs in the vicinity of lakes and adjacent meadows. Uses rodent burrows for shelter. Eggs and larvae develop in shallow water.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Metamorphosed toads eat a various small terrestrial arthropods. Larvae eat organic debris, algae, and plant tissue.
Phenology Comments: Inactive during cold season.
Colonial Breeder: Y
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Adapted from USFWS Revised Recovery Plan (2015)
The primary threats impeding the recovery of the Wyoming toad, one of North America?s most endangered amphibians, are its extremely limited distribution, small population entirely dependent upon captive releases, lack of suitable habitat for future reintroductions within its historic range, and the infectious disease chytridiomycosis caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. A better understanding of the life-history, disease dynamics, and ecological needs of the Wyoming toad is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the reintroduction program.

The genetics of the captive population, based on ten founders taken from the wild in 1989, is currently being managed based on mean kinship analysis to maximize genetic diversity. The wild subpopulations present at Mortenson Lake and the two Safe Harbor Agreement locations are augmented annually by the captive population; however, none of the wild subpopulations are considered self-sustaining as of 2015. Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) surveillance and research is ongoing to understand disease dynamics in both the wild and captive population of Wyoming toads. Bd appears to persist in the environment at Mortenson Lake. More research is needed to determine potential reservoirs of the disease, how to limit its spread and/or treat infected toads. It is recommended that for occupied lakes, emergent and bank vegetation (bulrushes, sedges, grasses, etc.) be managed through grazing, prescribed burning, and mechanical removal, etc. to prevent rank, overgrown vegetation that inhibits free movement of toads and potentially alters the thermal environment.

Management Requirements: Current management focuses on captive breeding and release of larvae and toadlets at Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS 2002). Efforts are being made to establish additional suitable release sites on public lands and private lands protected through Safe Harbor Agreements (USFWS 2002).

A fall grazing regime is utilized to thin dense vegetation around the shoreline of Mortenson Lake to create open areas for the toad. Grazing on Hutton Lake NWR was halted in 2002 due to the more severe drought conditions experienced at that refuge.


Management Programs: The Wyoming toad captive breeding program currently consists of 9 facilities housing 450 animals (see USFWS 2002 for details).
Monitoring Programs: See Dickerson (1999) for a brief review of recent pesticide monitoring activities by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Cheyenne, Wyoming). In 2002, Erin Muths (USGS-BRD, Fort Collins) was monitoring the population at Mortenson Lake. Surveys of chytrid fungus distribution in the Laramie Basin and monitoring of chytrid fungus at Mortenson Lake were underway in 2002 (USFWS 2002).
Management Research Needs: A better understanding of the life-history, disease dynamics, and ecological needs of the Wyoming toad is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the reintroduction program.
Biological Research Needs: Develop a better understanding of the life-history, disease dynamics, and ecological needs of the Wyoming toad to ensure the effectiveness of the reintroduction program. Proposed research topics include: 1. determination of potential reservoirs of the infectious disease chytridiomycosis, how to limit its spread and/or treat infected toads; 2. development of captive/wild infectious disease management protocols; 3. development of methods for improving captive egg hatch rate and larval rearing success; 4. determine the appropriate ecological criteria for identifying new release sites for the establishment of wild populations; etc.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Bufonid Toads

Use Class: Not applicable
Subtype(s): Breeding Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including larvae or eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy major highway such that toads rarely if ever cross successfully; roads with nonpermeable barriers to toad movement; urbanized areas dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Opportunistic observations of various toad species in lowland habitats indicate regular movements of up to at least several hundred meters from the closest known breeding site (G. Hammerson, pers. obs.). Sweet (1993) recorded movements of up to 1 km in Bufo californicus. In defining critical habitat for B. californicus, USFWS (2000) included breeding streams and upland areas within a 25-m elevational range of each essential stream reach and no more than 1.5 km away from the stream. In northwestern Utah, Thompson (2004) recorded movements of Bufo boreas of up to 5 km across upland habitat between two springs during the summer-fall season. Another toad moved 1.3 km between May of one year and May of the next year; the following June it was back at the original breeding location (Thompson 2004). Most studies of toad movements have not employed radiotelemetry and were not designed to detect long-range movements or dispersal.

The separation distance for unsuitable habitat reflects the nominal minimum value of 1 km. The separation distance for suitable habitat reflects the good vagility of toads, their ability to utilize ephemeral or newly created breeding sites, and the consequent likely low probability that two occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent truly independent populations over the long term.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Date: 27Apr2005
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 21Nov2018
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G. (2011); Schuhmann, A (2018)
Management Information Edition Date: 20Nov2018
Management Information Edition Author: Schuhmann, A.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 02Apr2003
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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