The Fowler’s toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) is a small 2- to 3-inch toad that typically has three or more warts in each of the largest, dark spots with the dorsal area mostly brown or gray. The belly and chest are usually unspotted, unlike the commonly confused American toad (Anaxyrus americanus). Other key identifying characteristics include a parotoid gland that touches the postorbital ridge and, unlike the American toad, a lack of a large tibial wart. The two toad species will hybridize where they overlap and may produce intermediate characteristics. Threats to the species include development of habitat along sandy soils of river systems or lakes where humans often build houses, mortality from sand and gravel mining, and mortality from vehicles on roadways. It is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in all six states in BCR 14.
Loose, well-drained sandy or gravelly soils near river banks, lake margins, beach and coastal dune systems, and sandy or scrubby woodlands are used throughout their range. Fowler’s toads will also use roadsides, residential yards and gardens, and fields and pastures. Breeding toads will usually make use of shallow margins of lakes, farm ponds, rivers, slow-moving streams, and vernal pools to lay up to 8,000 eggs in long strings attached to aquatic vegetation. They hibernate up to 3 feet deep in sandy soil.
Habitat Management Practices
Since occurrence-data is limited in many parts of its range, call-surveys are recommended in areas where habitat is suitable and near known current or historical records. In areas near known occurrences:
- Minimize active-season wetland crossings to the extent possible, using temporary bridges as needed.
- Avoid disturbance to vernal pools year-round.
- Avoid introducing aquatic or terrestrial invasive plants from off-site fill.
- Create artificial breeding ponds in areas where invasive plants such as common reed (Phragmites autralis) have dominated shallow waterbody breeding habitats to help rescue populations.
- Identify and include abandoned sand and gravel sites into land conservation effortsd.
- Avoid creating new roads, impervious surfaces, or urban development near known populations.
Greenberg, D.A. and D.M Green. 2013. Effects of an invasive plant on population dynamics in toads. Conservation Biology. 27(5):1049-1057.
Megyesy, J. and M. Marchand. 2015. Fowler’s Toad. Pages A27-A33 in the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan, NH Fish & Game Department, Concord, NH.