Spea hammondii - (Baird, 1859)
Western Spadefoot
Other English Common Names: western spadefoot
Synonym(s): Scaphiopus hammondii Baird, 1859 "1857" ;Spea (=Scaphiopus) hammondii Baird, 1859 "1857"
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Spea hammondii (Baird, 1859) (TSN 206990)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100387
Element Code: AAABF02020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Frogs and Toads
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Anura Scaphiopodidae Spea
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Wiens, J. J., and T. A. Titus. 1991. A phylogenetic analysis of Spea (Anura: Pelobatidae). Herpetologica 47:21-28.
Concept Reference Code: A91WIE01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Spea hammondii
Taxonomic 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. multiplicatus until 1976 (Brown 1976); some authors retain multiplicatus within hammondi (Tanner 1989), but various data support the contention that these are distinct species (see Wiens and Titus 1991).

Garcia-Paris et al. (2003) used mtDNA to examine the phylogenetic 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.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 03Jan2019
Global Status Last Changed: 03Jan2019
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Nearly endemic to central and southwestern California, also occurs in northwestern Baja California; extirpated from many sites in the Central Valley and coastal southern California; declining due to impacts of urbanization and agricultural development; some populations may be threatened by habitat fragmentation or exotic species (mosquitofish stocked for mosquito abatement, bullfrogs). Climate change likely to have further impacts.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3 (03Dec2001)

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 California (S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The range includes the Central Valley and bordering foothills of California and the Coast Ranges (south of San Francisco Bay) and extends southward into northwestern Baja California, Mexico. The species has been extirpated throughout much of lowland southern California. Elevational range extends from near sea level to elevations of up to about 1,363 m (Zeiner et al. 1988, cited by Jennings and Hayes 1994; Ervin et al. 2001), but usually below 910 m (Stebbins 1985).

Area of Occupancy: 126-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Jennings and Hayes (1994) mapped several dozen localities with extant populations. Recent updates include over 400 occurrences.

Population Size: 10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown; likely at least many thousands.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very many (>125)

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Main threat is development and conversion of habitat to incompatible uses (urbanization, agricultural development) (Davidson et al. 2002). Drought and increasing temperatures associated with climate change are likely to affect the hydrology of vernal pools, which are necessary for breeding and larval development. Invasive species and increasing prevalence of wildfires are also likely to affect at least some areas, but population-level impacts are not currently known.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-50%
Short-term Trend Comments: Since the 1950s, drastic declines have been noted in the Central Valley and southern California. In southern California, more than 80% of the previously occupied habitat has been developed or converted to incompatible uses; more than 30% in northern and central California (Jennings and Hayes 1994).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 10-80%
Long-term Trend Comments: Unknown level of decline in extent of occurrence, population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: Protect assemblages of rain-pool habitat throughout the range.

Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) The range includes the Central Valley and bordering foothills of California and the Coast Ranges (south of San Francisco Bay) and extends southward into northwestern Baja California, Mexico. The species has been extirpated throughout much of lowland southern California. Elevational range extends from near sea level to elevations of up to about 1,363 m (Zeiner et al. 1988, cited by Jennings and Hayes 1994; Ervin et al. 2001), but usually below 910 m (Stebbins 1985).

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: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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

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)
CA Alameda (06001), Butte (06007), Calaveras (06009), Colusa (06011), Fresno (06019), Glenn (06021), Kern (06029), Kings (06031), Los Angeles (06037), Madera (06039), Mariposa (06043), Merced (06047), Monterey (06053), Orange (06059), Placer (06061), Riverside (06065), Sacramento (06067), San Benito (06069), San Bernardino (06071), San Diego (06073), San Joaquin (06077), San Luis Obispo (06079), Santa Barbara (06083), Shasta (06089), Siskiyou (06093), Stanislaus (06099), Tehama (06103), Tulare (06107), Ventura (06111), Yolo (06113)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
18 Lower Pit (18020003)+, Sacramento-Stone Corral (18020104)+, Lower American (18020111)+, Upper Stony (18020115)+, Cottonwood Creek (18020152)+, Clear Creek-Sacramento River (18020154)+, Paynes Creek-Sacramento River (18020155)+, Thomes Creek-Sacramento River (18020156)+, Big Chico Creek-Sacramento River (18020157)+, Honcut Headwaters-Lower Feather (18020159)+*, Upper Coon-Upper Auburn (18020161)+, Lower Sacramento (18020163)+, Middle Kern-Upper Tehachapi- (18030003)+, Upper Deer-Upper White (18030005)+, Upper Kaweah (18030007)+, Upper Dry (18030009)+, Tulare-Buena Vista Lakes (18030012)+, Middle San Joaquin-Lower (18040001)+, Middle San Joaquin-Lower (18040002)+, San Joaquin Delta (18040003)+, Upper San Joaquin (18040006)+*, Upper Chowchilla-Upper Fresno (18040007)+, Upper Merced (18040008)+, Upper Tuolumne (18040009)+, Upper Stanislaus (18040010)+, Upper Calaveras (18040011)+, Upper Mokelumne (18040012)+, Upper Cosumnes (18040013)+, Rock Creek-French Camp Slough (18040051)+, San Francisco Bay (18050004)+, Pajaro (18060002)+, Carrizo Plain (18060003)+, Estrella (18060004)+, Salinas (18060005)+, Central Coastal (18060006)+, Cuyama (18060007)+, Santa Maria (18060008)+, San Antonio (18060009)+, Santa Ynez (18060010)+, Santa Clara (18070102)+, Calleguas (18070103)+, Los Angeles (18070105)+, San Gabriel (18070106)+, San Jacinto (18070202)+, Santa Ana (18070203)+, Newport Bay (18070204)+, Aliso-San Onofre (18070301)+, Santa Margarita (18070302)+, San Luis Rey-Escondido (18070303)+, San Diego (18070304)+, Cottonwood-Tijuana (18070305)+, Whitewater River (18100201)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A spadefoot toad.
Reproduction Comments: Breeds January-May. Female lays cylindrical mass of eggs.
Ecology Comments: May dig its own burrow or use those of other animals. Skin secretion smells like peanuts and maybe an irritant to handlers.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrates up to at least several hundred meters between nonbreeding and breeding habitats.
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, Pool
Palustrine Habitat(s): TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Playa/salt flat, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: This species lives in a wide range of habitats; lowlands to foothills, grasslands, open chaparral, pine-oak woodlands. It prefers shortgrass plains, sandy or gravelly soil (e.g., alkali flats, washes, alluvial fans). It is fossorial and breeds in temporary rain pools and slow-moving streams (e.g., areas flooded by intermittent streams).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Herbivore, Invertivore, Scavenger
Food Comments: Adults invertivorous; larvae eat algae, organic debris, plant tissue, etc., sometimes small animals (e.g., crustaceans, tadpoles).
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Inactive underground throughout much of the year. Most active during rains of winter-spring breeding period. Remains below ground during dry/cold weather.
Colonial Breeder: Y
Length: 6 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Further research is needed to understand population dynamics and habitat use, including connectivity, breeding behavior, juvenile dispersal, and adult migration. Genetic studies throughout the range would help determine the degree of variation within the species. Existing occurrences should be protected from development, and disturbance of breeding habitat should be minimized. Some studies indicate properly managed grazing or introduction of artificial water features may be beneficial to the species, and further research should explore these strategies.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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.
Date: 15Apr2005
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03Dec2018
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Clausen, M. K., and G. Hammerson (2005), rev. Misty Nelson (2018)
Management Information Edition Date: 03Dec2018
Management Information Edition Author: Misty Nelson (2018)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 31Dec2002
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

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