Project Description

The Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas) is a threatened amphibian found in western North America. The species exhibits communal breeding and strong site fidelity. Typically, all of the breeding females of a given population lay their eggs in one location within a wetland. The eggs hatch as tadpoles and school together until they emerge as metamorphosed toadlets, at which point they migrate en masse into natural areas surrounding their home wetland. The Western Toad is threatened by habitat destruction, loss of connectivity between wetland and upland habitat, road mortality, pesticides, disease (chytrid fungus), and drying of wetlands.

A Rocha has focused survey efforts for Western Toads on 58 sites within the Little Campbell River watershed, assessing the sites for suitable toad habitat and searching for individuals of any life stage. Only one breeding population was found in 2013, and has been monitored annually since its discovery. Each summer, before they emerge as toadlets, we assess the number and developmental stage of tadpoles and take water quality measurements. Following emergence from the breeding wetland, we conduct road surveys to estimate overall numbers of toadlets as well as vehicle mortality. We also conduct road surveys each Feb/Mar when adult toads are returning to the wetlands to breed.  These road surveys have led to practical action towards protecting the toad population, including the Township of Langley installing road signs to divert all but local traffic away from significant toadlet road crossing areas during their migration, the construction of a silt fence to funnel toadlets from the breeding wetland into a dry culvert where they can pass underneath a major road in safety, and the inclusion of toad conservation measures in a Local Community Planning process.

Our work to protect Western Toads relies on involvement from private landowners who provide valuable knowledge about the toadlet migration as well as access to toad habitat. This project is funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program. The BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has partnered with us in research on genetic diversity within the species.


Conservation Status

Jurisdiction Authority Year Status
B.C. Conservation Data Centre 2016 S4* Yellow List
Canada SARA 2018 Special Concern
Canada COSEWIC 2012 Special Concern
International IUCN 2015 Least Concern

*S: Subnational status; *4: apparently secure


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Citizen Science Opportunity

Are you interested in participating in our Western Toad road surveys? Each spring (February – April), A Rocha Canada staff and volunteers equipped with flashlights and reflector vests conduct road surveys for adult toads migrating from upland forest to their breeding wetland. In the summer (June-August), we survey for juvenile toadlets emerging from the wetland. Volunteers play an important role in this work and are always welcome to join in. Contact us for more information.
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