THE AMPHIBIAN PROJECT
Overview of the Amphibian Project
The Amphibian Project started in 2004, and has been the first intensive surveys of amphibians in the forests of the Yakama Reservation. This project was originally made possible by a USFWS Tribal Wildlife Grants. Our focus so far has been to find breeding habitat in the wet meadows, streams, and other wetlands, of the managed forest. This year we will begin monitoring projects for two of our more sensitive species.
The two main objectives of the Amphibian Project are 1) create a detailed range map for all amphibian species on the Yakama Reservation, with a focus on sensitive and rare species, and 2) describe the primary habitat factors that are limiting, or have potential to limit, their presence in all or part of their range.
For three years, we have collected data on locations and habitat use for two target species, the tailed frog (Ascaphus truei) and the western toad (Bufo boreas). We are working with various tribal programs to plan and carry out protection and restoration efforts for each species in parts of their range. We continue in our efforts in documenting presence of three other target species: Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa), Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris), and Larch Mountain salamander (Plethodon larselli). We have also collected information on more common amphibian species as well.
We have been very fortunate to receive two generous grants from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. This funding has helped to begin and continue monitoring of tailed frog and western toad populations and habitat on the Reservation. We are very grateful for this assistance.
Tailed frogs are found in suitable streams throughout the Reservation, in both the Klickitat and Toppenish watersheds. It is too early to know the status of populations here, but they have been declining elsewhere throughout the Pacific Northwest. Timber harvesting appears to been the likely cause, so it is important to better understand the status of this species on the Reservation, and to retain adequate habitat for them during timber harvests.
Picture 1 - Adult female tailed frog,
Picture 2 - 2 - 3 year old tailed frog tadpole.
Tailed frogs need the following habitat features for breeding:
*Perennial streams (that do not dry more than once every 4-5 years).
*Stream bottom with lots of medium to large size rocks and little fine sediment found between them.
*Cold water with little daily or seasonal fluctuation (not to exceed 18°C).
*Highly oxygenated water (steeper gradient and high flow speed, no still water or ponds).
Western toads are found in meadows, lakes, and slow moving streams throughout the Reservation. The status of western toads on the Yakama Reservation is unknown, but degradation of important breeding areas is occurring. Healthy wet meadows and wetlands contribute to healthy populations of toads. Historic removal of beaver also likely decreased available breeding habitat.
Picture - Western toad female laying egg string (faint, in background).
The largest threat to western toad habitat on the Reservation and elsewhere appears to be degradation and loss of mesic meadows. Leading causes are:
*Overgrazing (cattle, horses, elk).
*Absence of beaver.
*Altered wetland hydrology (caused by roads, outdated culverts).
Other species found in the Montane forested riparian wetlands of the Yakama Reservation include: Northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile), Cascade frog (Rana cascadae), rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa), long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum), and Pacific tree (chorus) frog (Hyla regilla).
Picture - Northwestern salamander pair, Tract D Recreational Area.
Picture - Adult long-toed salamander, Closed Area.Species Identification
The Wildlife, Range, & Vegetation Program always welcomes sightings of amphibians on the Yakama Reservation from Tribal members and employees. When reporting a sighting, please make careful note of the location, habitat type, species, and life cycle (egg, tadpole, adult). Photographs are very helpful as well.
For help with identification, please download and print the following guide: Amphibians of the Yakama Reservation
For a higher quality, hard copy brochure, please contact Gina King (509) 865-5121, x6330.
For more information on tailed frogs and other amphibians, check out: Washington Herp Atlas
Video Clips (please check back for additional clips)
For more information on this project, please call: (509) 865-5121, x6330.