- (Harlan, 1835)
Other English Common Names: eastern spadefoot
Scaphiopus holbrookii holbrookii (Harlan, 1835)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s):
Scaphiopus holbrookii (Harlan, 1835) (TSN 173426)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100521
Element Code: AAABF01040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates
- Frogs and Toads
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference: Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B90COL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Scaphiopus holbrookii holbrookii
Taxonomic Comments: Scaphiopus hurterii formerly was regarded as a subspecies of S. holbrookii, but recent checklists (Crother et al. 2000, Collins and Taggart 2002) have treated it as a distinct species.
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.
Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 15Apr2005
Global Status Last Changed: 29Nov2001
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread, occurring primarily in the southeastern United States; common in many areas; secure, with local extirpations due to urbanization in the northeastern part of the range.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5
U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Alabama (S5), Arkansas (S2), Connecticut (S1), Delaware (S4), District of Columbia (SH), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S3), Indiana (S2), Kentucky (S4), Louisiana (S3), Maryland (S4), Massachusetts (S2), Mississippi (S5?), Missouri (S2), New Jersey (SNR), New York (S2S3), North Carolina (S5), Ohio (S1), Pennsylvania (S1), Rhode Island (S1), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S5), Virginia (S4), West Virginia (S1)
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors
Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range extends from Southern New England across the southern Great Lakes states to southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas, and south to the Gulf Coast, from eastern Louisiana to southern Florida (absent at higher elevations in Appalachians)(Conant and Collins 1991).
Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Represented by many and/or large occurrences throughout most of the range. Probably there are many undiscovered occurrences; this species evades detection via erratic nocturnal activity.
Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Secretive; usually more abundant than is apparent. In Florida, Greenberg and Tanner (2005) found that apparently reduced populations of adults during some years clearly reflected suspended breeding activity rather than low densities. The probability that only a portion of the potential adult breeding population actually breeds during any given breeding event further biases population estimates.
Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)
Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Urbanization is a known threat in the northeastern United States (Klemens 1993). Pesticide use in conjunction with forest pest management is a potential threat.
Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Overall, probably relatively stable.
Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, unknown level of decline in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.
Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information
(200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles))
Range extends from Southern New England across the southern Great Lakes states to southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas, and south to the Gulf Coast, from eastern Louisiana to southern Florida (absent at higher elevations in Appalachians)(Conant and Collins 1991).
U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Endemism: endemic to a single nation
Range MapNo map available.
U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, WV
U.S. Distribution by County
||County Name (FIPS Code)
New Haven (09009)*,
New London (09011),
New Madrid (29143),
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed
||Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
Middle Connecticut (01080201)+,
Lower Connecticut (01080205)+,
Cape Cod (01090002)+,
Middle Hudson (02020006)+,
Northern Long Island (02030201)+,
Southern Long Island (02030202)+,
Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+,
Bald Eagle (02050204)+,
Lower West Branch Susquehanna (02050206)+,
Lower Susquehanna-Swatara (02050305)+,
Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201)+,
Upper Ohio-Shade (05030202)+,
Little Kanawha (05030203)+*,
Lower New (05050004)+*,
Upper Kanawha (05050006)+*,
Big Sandy (05070204)+,
Little Scioto-Tygarts (05090103)+,
Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+,
Lower Wabash (05120113)+,
Lower White (05120202)+,
Lower East Fork White (05120208)+,
Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+,
Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon (05140201)+
New Madrid-St. Johns (08020201)+,
Lower St. Francis (08020203)+,
Little River Ditches (08020204)+,
Bayou Bartholomew (08040205)+*,
Upper Black (11010007)+*,
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A 6-cm toad.
General Description: The upper surface is brown, olive, gray, or blackish. A curved yellow line often extends from each eye and down the back. The pupil of the eye is vertically elliptical in bright light (like a cat's eye). A single hard sickle-shaped spade is on the inner underside of each hind foot. Maximum snout-vent length is about 2.9 inches (7.3 cm). Breeding males have black pads on the thumbs and inner toes of the front feet. Breeding calls are loud, nasal "quonk" or "wank" sounds, repeated every few seconds. Larvae are brown to bronze on top; the belly skin is clearish; the tail fins are clear; the tail musculature is not conspicuously spotted or blotched; and the eyes are very close together on the top of the head. Larvae are up to 2 inches (5 cm) in total length. Eggs are deposited in strings that may break apart, in masses of up to a few thousand eggs, attached to submerged plant material.
Reproduction Comments: Eastern spadefoots do not have a well-defined breeding season. Instead, they breed whenever heavy rains produce suitable breeding pools and temperatures are above about 45 degrees (F). Breeding occurs often in spring or summer in the north but in any month in the far south (for example, recorded in February, March, June, September, and October in Florida) (Greenberg and Tanner 2004). Breeding aggregations in single pools include dozens to hundreds of adults. Individual females produce a clutch of up to about 2,500 eggs (in several batches). Eggs laid in summer may hatch in 1 day, whereas eggs laid in colder conditons may take 2 weeks or more. The aquatic larvae may form huge aggregations. They metamorphose into the terrestrial form in as little as 2 weeks when conditions are warm and in 8 weeks or more if it is cold (e.g., first emigration 16-29 days after breeding in Florida; Greenberg and Tanner 2004). Over a period of several years, individual breeding pools may produce metamorphs infrequently and at irregular intervals (Greenberg and Tanner 2005). In Florida, maximum lifespan was estimated to be 7 years (Greenberg and Tanner 2005).
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrates up to several hundred meters between breeding pools and nonbreeding terrestrial habitats.
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian, TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Eastern spadefoots occur in areas of sandy, gravelly, or soft, light soils in wooded or unwooded terrain. On land, they range up to at least several hundred meters from breeding sites. When inactive, they remain burrowed in the ground. Eggs and larvae develop in temporary pools formed by heavy rains. Breeding sites include temporary pools and areas flooded by heavy rains.
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Detritivore, Herbivore, Invertivore, Scavenger
Food Comments: Metamorphosed toads eat various small terrestrial invertebrates. Larvae eat plankton initially, later small aquatic invertebrates and sometimes other amphibian larvae, including conspecifics.
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Eastern spadefoots burrow underground in daytime and when conditions are cold or dry but may be active day and night during the brief breeding period.
Colonial Breeder: Y
Length: 8 centimeters
Not yet assessed
Not yet assessed
Group Name: Spadefoots
Use Class: Not applicable
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, especially at night, such that toads rarely if ever cross successfully; urban development dominated by buildings and pavement; the largest, widest, fast-flowing rivers.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Spadefoots can cross some fairly wide flowing rivers, so only the biggest rivers with strong current should be treated as barriers.
Detailed information on movements of these toads is not available, but opportunistic field observations of various species indicate that they readily move up to at least several hundred meters from breeding sites (G. Hammerson, pers. obs.). 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 spadefoots, 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.
Adults tend to exhibit high fidelity to breeding sites. For example, in Florida, inter-pond exchange of adults was minimal and short-distance (130 m; one was 416 m) (Greenberg and Tanner 2005), but recaptures were rare and some dispersals may have been missed. Additionally metamorphs may disperse large distances and probably sometimes eventually breed in distant non-natal pools. In Florida, Greenberg and Tanner (2005) did not track inter-pond movement by Scaphiopus holbrookii metamorphs, but it appeared likely that metamorphs ''rescue'' local populations by breeding-4 or 5 years later-in non-natal ponds as adults.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Inferred extent distance refers to distance from breeding sites and is likely a conservative value.
Author: Hammerson, G.
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 08May2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and F. Dirrigl, Jr.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 26Jan2010
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).
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