More Signs of Spring in Nanaimo

Mar 26, 2015

It is officially Spring and along with migrating birds and wetlands waking up in the area, is it also breeding season for many amphibian species including Western Toads.


Check out this cute little guy.

Wetland and lake habitat suitable for breeding Western Toads exists in and around the City of Nanaimo. Western Toads tend to migrate to communal breeding grounds in the spring. They prefer shallow bodies of water with sandy bottoms. Eggs are laid near vegetation to anchor the egg masses of up to 16,500 eggs! About 1% of the eggs survive.

Each day during breeding season (usually around midday when the day starts warming up) toads travel from the forest to their breeding grounds. You can watch as they swim toward their breeding site en masse. 


Above: A captured breeding pair.

In British Columbia, Western Toads are a species of conservation concern due to habitat loss from development, competition from introduced species like the bullfrog, and migrating toads can be killed by traffic on roads. 

Researchers from Vancouver Island University, along with Environment Canada and Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are conducting surveys on these little guys. They are trying to determine the population viability of Western Toads in this area by counting and tagging them at their breeding grounds. In the fifth year of the survey, they capture toads, check to see if they have been tagged and tag ones who have not yet been tagged. They count the number of toads and categorize them into ones who are returning from previous years (already tagged) and new arrivals (not tagged). The toads are then released to go about their business.


Here's a nature "Where's Waldo?" Can you spot the Western Toad in this picture? It's near the centre of the picture looking up at the camera. 

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