Home
Donate Sign up for e-network
CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good
ABOUT ACTION PROGRAMS SPECIES NEWSROOM PUBLICATIONS SUPPORT

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

350 home Browse by region Browse by taxon Browse alphabetically Take action

 

AMPHIBIANS THAT NEED US TO GET TO 350 Photo credits
Amargosa toad (Bufo nelsoni)
Range: A 10-mile stretch of the Amargosa River and upland springs in Oasis Valley, Nevada
These occupants of southern Nevada’s Oasis Valley, a rare and biologically diverse wetland area, use their sticky tongues to feed along the water’s edge at night and take shelter in burrows, debris piles, and vegetation by day. But wetlands are scarce in this amphibian’s northern Mojave home, and the scores of native species they contain are increasingly threatened by human encroachment. Global warming is already increasing the frequency and severity of droughts in the Southwest, which can shrink the toad’s wetland habitat and further reduce breeding and feeding areas.

In response to a petition submitted by the Center and allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in September 2009 that it was launching a full status review to determine whether the Amargosa toad warrants protections under the Endangered Species Act.
Arroyo toad (Bufo californicus)
Range: Southern California to northern Baja California, Mexico; a few drainages in San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges
The arroyo toad endures harsh conditions by burrowing into sandy streamsides and sealing itself within a thin shell of shed skin. Once found in large numbers from Monterey to San Diego and northern Baja California, arroyo toads have disappeared from as much as 65 percent of their historic range. Global warming is increasing the frequency and severity of droughts in the Southwest, which will make already dry conditions even more extreme for the toad.

In 2000, the Center settled a suit that closed parts of Los Padres National Forest to protect arroyo toad habitat. In December 2007, we sued the Bush administration for its failure to adequately protect the toad by issuing a 2005 decision that cut the toad’s proposed critical habitat by more than 90 percent. The Service has agreed to issue a new arroyo toad critical habitat proposal by October 2009.
Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum)
Range: Four spring outlets from Barton Springs in Austin, Texas
Every year, more than 340,000 people visit the Barton Springs swimming hole in Austin, Texas. Few swimmers realize they’re taking a dip in the home of one of North America’s most endangered species — the Barton Springs salamander. The number of Barton Springs salamanders dropped between the 1970s, when hundreds of salamanders were seen, and 1992, when only a handful could be located, and numbers have fluctuated since then. Increasing drought conditions in the southwest due to climate change threaten to dry up the spring-fed Barton Creek pool, jeopardizing the existence of the salamander. A severe, ongoing Texas drought that began in 2007 has dramatically slowed spring flow into the pool, lowering dissolved oxygen that the gilled creatures need. As the spring dries up, salamander numbers have plummeted.

Following lawsuits by the Center and Austin environmental group Save Our Springs Alliance, the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to perform consultations regarding pesticide impacts on the salamander for six pesticides, including atrazine.
Boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas boreas)
Range: North-central California, east through Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and north to southern Alaska
Boreal toads use holes dug by other animals for burrowing, and they can spend half of their lives hibernating. To find their way, like other toads, they use the stars and their sense of smell. Water pollution, habitat loss, and chytrid fungus have already resulted in the boreal toad disappearing from much its range. Because the toad only lives at high elevations — for example, above 8,500 feet in Colorado — global warming’s rising temperatures add yet another threat to the species. With rising temperatures, suitable habitat for the toad is pushed to even higher elevations, and habitat patches become more isolated, giving the toad fewer places to call home. In Yellowstone National Park, increased warming, reduced annual rainfall, and increasing drought conditions have already dried up pond habitat for the boreal toad and other amphibians.
California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii)
Range: California’s Sonoma and Butte counties in the north to Riverside County in the south, mostly in the western counties
Experts agree: Mark Twain’s favorite amphibian, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” is none other than the California red-legged frog. Once so common it was a staple cuisine, California’s largest native frog has now lost 90 percent of its historic population. Decreases in rainfall and warming temperatures caused by climate change threaten this frog’s breeding sites, some of which are ephemeral ponds that are at risk of drying up before the tadpoles have become frogs.

In December 2007, the Center sued to ensure that the frog’s new critical habitat designation was adequate, and in September 2008, the Service proposed quadrupling the designation to 1.8 million acres.
California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
Range: Central California and California’s Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties
The California tiger salamander thrives in unique and now extremely rare habitats — California’s vernal pools, grasslands, and oak woodlands that have been hard hit by development. This elusive salamander takes refuge during the dry summers by tucking away in the small mammal burrows. During the first rainy nights of winter, they leave their burrows and trek to seasonal vernal pools where they mate and lay eggs before returning to their retreats. California tiger salamander juveniles need vernal pools that last long enough for them to complete their metamorphosis into land-dwelling adults. Reduced rainfall and droughts that cause pools to dry up too quickly can cause the loss of local populations. Increased droughts from global warming threatened the survival of the species.

After many years of Center litigation, in August 2009 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to designate 74,223 acres of critical habitat for the Sonoma County salamanders.
Cascades frog (Rana cascadae)
Range: California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia, mostly in the Cascades and Olympic Mountains
The Cascades frog inhabits wet, mountain areas near streams, ponds and bogs at higher elevations, typically above 2,000 feet. It spends the winter hibernating in the mud and emerges when the snow melts to find mates and breed. Although populations in Oregon and Washington appear to be stable at present, the Cascades frog has disappeared from 50 percent of its historic range in California, with high losses of the southernmost populations in the northern Sierra Nevadas and Mount Lassen.

Warming temperatures, reduced snowpack and earlier spring runoff in the western U.S. mountains threaten to dry this frog's upper-elevation wet-meadow, marsh, creek and pond habitat. Frogs that come out of hibernation and begin breeding earlier as temperatures rise may become more vulnerable to spring flooding and freezing. Climate change can also be more favorable to some amphibian parasites and disease.
Chiricahua leopard frog (Rana chiricahuensis)
Range: Desert and mountain streams and wetlands in central and southeast Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and northern Mexico
Leopard frogs are often used as environmental indicator species because of their heightened sensitivity to chemical pollutants found in the air and water. When a Chiricahua leopard frog wants attention, it snores — at least, its distinctive call sounds like a snore. But the sound of snoring around desert streams, springs, and even stock tanks is a lot softer than it used to be. Once found in more than 400 aquatic sites in the Southwest, this frog is now found at fewer than 80. In Arizona, the Chiricahua has declined more than any other leopard frog. Chiricahua leopard frogs need permanent water for reproduction, but that’s increasingly hard to come by. Southwest riparian areas are often destroyed by livestock grazing, groundwater pumping, water diversion, and dams, and now they face the additional threat of global warming drying their habitat.

The Center submitted a petition to list the species as federally endangered in 1998, and after two Center lawsuits, the frog was finally listed as threatened in 2002.
Frosted flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum)
Range: southeastern coastal plain, United States
The Frosted flatwoods salamander only occurs in the southeastern coastal plain of the United States. It inhabits seasonally wet pine flatwoods and savannas and breeds in small, shallow, ephemeral ponds. Courtship presumably occurs on land, where the female accepts a spermatophore that has been deposited on the ground by the male. The eggs hatch in response to rising water levels in the ponds. Adults migrate from surrounding upland habitats to their natal wetlands during rainfall associated with passing cold fronts. These salamanders are sensitive to drought. Projected increases in drought conditions could dry the salamanders’ shallow, short-lived breeding ponds.

After years of litigation brought by the Center and allies, the salamander was listed as a threatened species in 2009 and more than 27,000 acres of critical habitat was designated.
Lungless salamander (Pseudoeurycea goebeli)
Range: Guatemala and Mexico
As their name implies, lungless salamander lack lungs, breathing through their skin and the tissues lining their mouths. They must keep these surfaces moist in order to breathe, so they have to live in damp environments, like beneath logs, in caves, or in wet rock crevices — only venturing out in humid weather.

A 2009 study shows that common salamanders are disappearing in the tropical forests of Guatemala and Mexico. This may be partly thanks to climate change, which is shifting temperatures and humidity, factors intimately linked to the very survival of lungless salamanders and other amphibians.
Mississippi gopher frog (Rana capito sevosa)
Range: Glen’s Pond, Mike’s Pond, and McCoy’s Pond in eastern Mississippi
Mississippi gopher frogs spend most of their lives underground, in burrows created by gopher tortoises — hence their name — and other animals. In the winter, they migrate to temporary ponds to breed, and after breeding, they migrate back to the forested, longleaf-pine uplands. But 98 percent of America’s native longleaf-pine forest has now been destroyed, and fire suppression, drought, pesticides, urban sprawl, highway construction, and the decline of gopher tortoises have made this frog so rare it now lives in only three small Mississippi ponds. Climate change may impact this frog through changes in rainfall affecting its remaining ponds.

In 2002, the Mississippi gopher frog was listed as an endangered species as a result of a Center lawsuit.
Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa)
Range: Small, isolated populations in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia
The first species ever to be emergency-listed as an endangered species in Canada, the Oregon spotted frog has been on the U.S. candidate list for more than 15 years but still has no federal protection in the United States. Named for the black spots covering its body, the species has a historic range that stretches from California past the U.S.-Canadian border, but has been lost from 90 percent of its former range. Because frog life cycles are closely tied to moisture and temperature, frogs are thought to be among the most sensitive species to climate change. Changing temperature and precipitation can influence the timing of life-cycle events, development, and metabolism during hibernation; they can also exacerbate the effects of diseases like chytrid fungus.

In 2008, after the Center and allies filed suit to protect the species from devastating livestock grazing in the home of one of its few populations, the Forest Service proposed to fence off the critical area to protect the frog from cattle.
Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki)
Range: Endemic to west-central Panama
Ancient Panama legend promised luck to anyone who spotted the Panamanian golden frog — one of the world’s harlequin frog species — in the wild. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible today. In 2006, the frog-killing chytridiomycosis disease hit the species’ native home, the clear streams of the volcanic crater of El Valle de Antón. This small, brightly colored frog — whose populations were already under pressure due to collectors and habitat loss — was decimated. Similar species still hop around in Panama’s mountain forests, but now the only remaining Panamanian golden frogs are those bred in captivity at a handful of zoos.

The neotropical harlequin frogs in the genus Atelopus have declined more catastrophically than any other amphibian genus. Of 113 species, at least 30 have vanished in the past 25 years, and the populations of another 12 species have declined by 50 percent or more. Rising temperatures from climate change are thought to have played a role in these declines by promoting outbreaks of the infectious chytridiomycosis disease.
Puerto Rico rock frog (Coquí guajón)
Range: Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rico rock frog, also known as the coquí guajón, is part of the much celebrated family of Puerto Rican tropical frogs. Despite being the state animal and considered emblematic of the region, of the 17 species of coquí, three are believed to be extinct and the rest are rare and declining in numbers. Dramatic population declines in 1983 of this species and other Puerto Rican frogs were linked to an increased number of extended dry periods. Changes in precipitation that lead longer dry periods threaten this species.

The coquí guajón was granted federal protection in 1997, but was only given full habitat protections in 2007 after the Center applied pressure to federal authorities.
Relict leopard frog (Rana onca)
Range: Lake Mead in Nevada
The relict leopard frog was originally declared extinct in the 1950s, only to be rediscovered in the early ’90s. Unfortunately, the relict may disappear just as suddenly as it reappeared — the species is limited to at most 1,100 individuals, at least half of which live in one environmentally sensitive location. Climate change is one of greatest threats to this species’ continued survival. The frog is now restricted to six springs within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, where water is growing scarcer due to warming temperatures, increased drought frequency, and declining snowpack. Researchers project that Colorado River flows will decline by 10 to 30 percent, and there’s a 50-percent chance that Lake Mead will dry up by 2021.

The petitioned to list the species under the Endangered Species Act in 2002, three years later filing suit to expedite protection. Wildlife agencies have spent five years drafting a conservation strategy for the frog. Reintroductions of captive-reared relict leopard frogs began at six springs in Arizona and Utah in 2006.
Scott Bar salamander (Plethodon asupaki)
Range: Southwest Oregon and northwest California
The Scott Bar salamander has very particular habitat preferences — boulder fields in moss-covered, old-growth forests of the diverse Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains of California and Oregon, where salamanders can find moist conditions. The logging of old-growth trees in salamander habitat, along with the increasing risks of forest fire, mining, and construction, put the species at grave risk of extinction. And these salamanders prefer a cool, moist, and stable microclimate because they breathe through their skin — so climate change is another big threat. Besides disrupting their ecosystem’s microclimate, warming temperatures may shorten the window in which this salamander is able to look for food and reproduce. Unlike more mobile species, this salamander won’t simply be able to shift its range in response to rapid climate change.

The Center petitioned to protect the Scott Bar salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, but while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife initially found protection warranted, it denied the species listing in 2008.
Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa)
Range: Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada
Once the most abundant amphibian in the Sierra Nevada, this hardy frog is now extinct in more than 93 percent of its original range. Primarily decimated by the introduction of nonnative predator fish to its high-elevation pond and lake homes, the yellow-legged frog will also undoubtedly be impacted by climate change. Yellow-legged frogs remain in the tadpole stage for three to four years, which means that they need lakes and ponds that don’t dry up in the summer and that are deep enough not to freeze through in winter. Healthy mountain snowpack is essential because it provides a supply of water in spring and summer that keeps the frog’s ponds from drying up or freezing. However, climate change has been rapidly reducing the snowpack in the frog’s Sierra Nevada home.

In response to Center litigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife determined that the yellow-legged frog is indeed endangered, but the species has yet to receive Endangered Species Act protection.
Siskiyou Mountains salamander (Plethodon stormi)
Range: Siskiyou Mountains in northwest California and southwest Oregon
Like the Scott Bar salamander, which shares the same small range as the Siskiyou salamander, this salamander once enjoyed non-species-specific protection under a “look-before-you-leap” forest management plan. Unfortunately, Bush-era protection repeals have left this little salamander in dire straights, with climate change posing a central threat. This salamander prefers a cool, moist, and stable microclimate because it breathes through its skin. Warming temperatures may shorten the window in which this salamander is able to look for food and reproduce. Unlike more mobile species, this salamander won’t simply be able to shift its range in response to rapid climate change.

The Center petitioned to protect the Siskiyou Mountains salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, but while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife initially found protection warranted, it denied the species listing in 2008.
Sonora tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum stebbinsi)
Range: San Rafael Valley of Arizona and Mexico
The Sonora tiger salamander only lives in limited parts of southern Arizona and northern Mexico, making it extremely vulnerable to environmental changes, including global warming. While often mistaken for a lizard, the tiger salamander — like all amphibians — needs access to freshwater for breeding, growth, and development. Drought during recent years appears to have reduced surface waters and potential breeding sites for the salamander. Aquatic habitats are needed from January through June for breeding, and loss of the remaining aquatic habitats due to decreased rainfall and increasingly frequent and severe drought is a significant threat to this species.

The Center has long advocated for the protection of the diverse and ecologically valuable borderlands the Sonora tiger salamander calls home. We also served on the participation team that helped craft the salamander’s federal recovery plan.
Sonoran toad (Bufo alvarius)
Range: Southwestern United States and northern Mexico
The Sonoran toad, also known as the Colorado River toad, is a large, carnivorous toad that lives in semi-aquatic environments throughout the Southwest. This toad spends the dry winters buried underground, using ponds and temporary pools formed by summer monsoons for laying eggs and developing tadpoles. The Sonoran toad is one of a handful of toads and frogs known to produce a psychoactive substance via its skin and venom.

While the toad is hardy enough to survive as an amphibian in a desert environment, increasing drought severity and decreases in standing water in the Southwest may make its aquatic breeding habitat more scarce.
Southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree)
Range: Restricted area of the Australian Alps
One of the most striking frogs in the world, the southern corroboree frog boasts bright lime or yellow and black stripes. Remarkably, each tiny frog bears a different pattern. “Corroboree” is an indigenous Australian word for a gathering where those in attendance paint themselves with yellow markings similar to those of the frog. This splashy frog is found only in a very small area of Kosciuszko National Park, one of the coldest areas on the Australian mainland, and at altitudes above 1300 meters. Unlike other frogs, it does not begin breeding until it reaches four years in age.

Corroboree frogs have adapted to cold, and with global warming, winters may no longer be long and cold enough for breeding. Hot dry weather in the Australian Alps in recent decades has already adversely affected egg and tadpole survival. Severe warming in the future may also devastate the frog’s alpine environment.
Yosemite toad (Bufo canorus)
Range: Central Sierra Nevada, California
The Yosemite toad was once one of the most plentiful of Sierra Nevada amphibians, but today it can only be found in very limited numbers. Even populations located within the protected and relatively pristine Yosemite National Park area have collapsed. Pesticides that drift from California’s vast agricultural areas have been blamed for these deaths, but climate change is also poised to take a toll, because the toad’s breeding cycle is tied to the Sierra snowpack. As the snow melts, males and females make their way to shallow pools fed by the gradually melting snow, where the toads lay their eggs and tadpoles develop. Due to decreased Sierra snowpack, earlier spring runoff, and lower summer flows resulting from climate change, the shallow pools and wet meadows used by the toad may dry up earlier in summer. Some researchers believe that lower-elevation habitats may already be drying and becoming less suitable for toads.

The Yosemite toad was declared deserving of Endangered Species Act protection thanks to a Center petition, but it’s still awaiting that protection.