Species Profile

Fowler's Toad

Scientific Name: Anaxyrus fowleri
Other/Previous Names: Bufo fowleri ,Bufo woodhousii fowleri
Taxonomy Group: Amphibians
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: April 2010
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(ii,iii,v)c(iv)+2ab(ii,iii,v)c(iv); E
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This species only occurs on sandy beaches in three disjunct areas along the north shore of Lake Erie. It has disappeared from numerous historic sites on the Lake Erie shore and continues to decline in abundance and number of populations with further habitat loss and degradation due to invasive species (Common Reed, Zebra Mussels) and anthropogenic activities including shoreline development, beach cleaning, construction of breakwalls, bulldozing of beaches, vehicle use on beaches and agricultural and industrial contaminants. In addition, a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) model suggests that over the last decade, the probability of extirpation within 20 years has increased substantially.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Special Concern in April 1986. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2000. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 2010.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Fowler's Toad

Fowler's Toad Photo 1
Fowler's Toad Photo 2

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Description

Fowler's Toads have grey or buff coloured upperparts with numerous dark brown spots, each containing three warts. The underparts of the toad are white or cream coloured. The throat is dark on the males but white on the females. Its snout is short and blunt and its call is a short bleat. Adult Fowler's Toads measure 50 to 80 millimeters, with the females being slightly larger than the males.

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Distribution and Population

Fowler's Toads are extremely common in the eastern United States, from Long Island to North Carolina. In Canada, they are found in apparently sustainable populations at only three localities on the shoreline of Lake Erie in southern Ontario: Rondeau, Long Point, and Point Abino. They have suffered decline and no longer occur at any localities in western Lake Erie, where they are considered extirpated. Fowler's Toads fluctuate widely in abundance. At the western base of Long Point, they have undergone a complete cycle of population rise and decline. Their numbers have gone from dozens to hundreds of individuals, and back, over the 10 years from 1988 through 1997. Fluctuating populations have effective population sizes that are much lower than those perceived during years of high abundance. Recently, a population viability analysis was carried out for the Fowler’s Toad using 13 years of data that was collected at Long Point. This type of analysis is typically done to estimate how viable a species is, or in other words, how likely it is to survive in a given area. Results indicate that the species has approximately a 20% chance of becoming extirpated (disappearing) from Canada in the next 100 years.

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Habitat

Fowler's toads are adapted to early stages of ecological succession in sand dune and lake shore habitats. These habitats are unstable due to fluctuating lake levels and unpredictable floods and storms.

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Biology

Fowler's Toads are nocturnal and are most active during the evening. They migrate between their hibernating and breeding areas, congregating at breeding time (in May and June) and dispersing afterwards. Their breeding sites are in shallow areas of permanent water bodies. Fowler’s Toads hibernate below the frost line in the sand, under debris and leaf litter. This species reaches sexual maturity in the second year, and lives for three to five years. Mortality is very high for tadpoles and young toads.

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Threats

The population fluctuations of Fowler's Toad are due to environmental factors as well as to the toad's inherent demographic characteristics. Disruption of the habitat is a major limiting factor. Also, the toads are sensitive to pesticides, both as tadpoles and as adults. The use of these chemicals in Ontario may have contributed to declines in the populations of this species. Irregularly occurring severe winter storms both cause mortality among adults and create suitable breeding sites. Ecological succession gradually degrades these breeding sites over a period of five to ten years.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Fowler's Toad is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

The Fowler's Toad is protected by the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Under this Act, it is prohibited to kill, harass, or capture this species.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Fowler's Toad Recovery Team

  • David Green - Chair/Contact - University or college
    Phone: 514-398-4086  Fax: 514-398-3185  Send Email
  • Anne Yagi - Chair/Contact - Government of Ontario
    Phone: 905-562-1196  Fax: 905-562-1154  Send Email

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date The intensive mark-recapture methods that have been long employed with this species, combined with GPS mapping, has lead to more precise knowledge of the toad’s distribution and range. This enables researchers and recovery teams to incorporate the extent of the species’ dispersal and the likelihood of rescuing declining populations. Radio telemetry has been successfully applied with toads at Gravelly Bay, Nickel beach and Morgan’s Point Conservation Area in the Niagara Peninsula. The same method is being applied at other sites in the Ontario region due to its success. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities Since 1989, researchers have been surveying the Fowler’s Toad over consecutive breeding seasons at Long Point, Ontario. Population and habitat monitoring through mark recapture of known and new populations takes place each spring. Toad locations will be accurately located by using a GPS (Global Positioning System) and are then incorporated into a GIS (Geographic Information System) database. Radio telemetry data is collected on vulnerable populations. This and other data assists the investigation of historical occurrence and distribution of the species. Population viability analyses have been used with data collected over an extended period of time from the three main populations at Rondeau, Long Point, and Niagara. This permits prediction about the populations in the future. Methods of increasing juvenile recruitment are being studied. An understanding of how to increase toadlet populations from existing breeding sites is important and assists toad reintroduction and recovery. A two-week survey trip from the western basin of Lake Erie to Niagra allowed the recovery team to locate and confirm historical and new population’s of the Fowlers Toad. It allowed them also to determine suitable sites for stewardship and habitat restoration. Summary of Recovery Activities Stewardship and outreach activities designed for children ages 12 and under, include “Meet the Fowler’s Toad night,” and school curriculum lesson plans. To secure the recovery of Fowler’s Toad populations, landowners are provided with information on stewardship practices as well. Fowler’s Toad fact sheets, landowner contact pamphlets, photo stickers, identification CD’s and Provincial Park displays have been developed and are available to the public at Ontario Parks offices. Furthermore, the existing parks system is being used to improve and expand the public’s understanding of species at risk and the Fowler’s Toad. Habitat enhancement, restoration, and monitoring of these efforts are underway. The main areas of interest for concentrating efforts on Fowler’s Toad conservation are the dunes and breeding ponds in public and private lands of Morgan’s Point, Rock Point Provincial Park, Nickel Beach, Lakewood (formerly Easter Seal Camp) in Wainfleet, and James N. Allen Provincial Park. URLs Toads and Frogs of Ontario:http://www.glfc.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/landscape/frog_e.html#Fowler Canadian Biodiversity: Fowler’s Toad:http://www.biology.mcgill.ca/undergra/c465a/biodiver/2000/fowlers-toad/fowlers-toad.htm

Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

13 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Fowler’s Toad Anaxyrus fowleri in Canada (2010-09-03)

    Adult Fowler’s Toads, Anaxyrus fowleri, are 50 to 80 mm in snout-vent length, with females growing larger than males. The dorsum is grey or buff, with small warts and tubercles. The belly is white with a single, dark, pectoral spot. The male’s call is a rather shrill scream. Tadpoles are up to 27 mm in total length and are mottled grey and black. Fowler’s Toads have a distinctive smell, reminiscent of unroasted peanuts. Until recently, the species was assigned to the genus Bufo.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment Summary and Status Report: Fowler's Toad Anaxyrus fowleri (2010-09-03)

    Assessment Summary – April 2010 Common name Fowler's Toad Scientific name Anaxyrus fowleri Status Endangered Reason for designation This species only occurs on sandy beaches in three disjunct areas along the north shore of Lake Erie. It has disappeared from numerous historic sites on the Lake Erie shore and continues to decline in abundance and number of populations with further habitat loss and degradation due to invasive species (Common Reed, Zebra Mussels) and anthropogenic activities including shoreline development, beach cleaning, construction of breakwalls, bulldozing of beaches, vehicle use on beaches and agricultural and industrial contaminants. In addition, a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) model suggests that over the last decade, the probability of extirpation within 20 years has increased substantially. Occurrence Ontario Status history Designated Special Concern in April 1986. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2000. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 2010. Please note that the related COSEWIC Status Report is available below in PDF format. You will be asked to provide your e-mail address then you will receive a link to download the publication. After processing, your email address is not retained in any way and is automatically discarded by our system.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Fowler's Toad (2010-12-02)

    This species only occurs on sandy beaches in three disjunct areas along the north shore of Lake Erie. It has disappeared from numerous historic sites on the Lake Erie shore and continues to decline in abundance and number of populations with further habitat loss and degradation due to invasive species (Common Reed, Zebra Mussels) and anthropogenic activities including shoreline development, beach cleaning, construction of breakwalls, bulldozing of beaches, vehicle use on beaches and agricultural and industrial contaminants. In addition, a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) model suggests that over the last decade, the probability of extirpation within 20 years has increased substantially.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Canada (2019-03-06)

    The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is the competent minister for the recovery of the Fowler’s Toad and has prepared federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (now the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Part 2) in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Province of Ontario also led the development of the attached Government response (Part 3), which is the Ontario Government’s policy response to its provincial recovery strategy and summarizes the prioritized actions that the Ontario government intends to take and support.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (volume 145, number 23, 2011) (2011-11-09)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, hereby acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 146, number 14, 2012) (2012-07-04)

    The purpose of the Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act is to add 18 species to Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the List), and to reclassify 7 listed species, pursuant to subsection 27(1) of SARA. This amendment is made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 (2010-09-03)

    Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. During the past year, COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings and reviewed the status of 79 wildlife species (species, subspecies, populations). During the meeting of November 2009, COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of the status of 28 wildlife species. COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of an additional 51 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations) during their April 2010 meeting. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2009-2010 reporting period include the following: Extirpated: 6 Endangered: 39 Threatened: 16 Special Concern: 17 Data Deficient: 1 This report transmits to the Minister the status of 46 species newly classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern, fulfilling COSEWIC’s obligations under SARA Section 24 and 25. A full detailed summary of the assessment for each species and the reason for the designation can be found in Appendix I of the attached report. Since its inception, COSEWIC has assessed 602 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 262 Endangered, 151 Threatened, 166 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated. In addition, 13 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct. Also, to date, 46 wildlife species have been identified by COSEWIC as Data Deficient and 166 wildlife species were assessed as Not at Risk. This year has been a particularly productive year for COSEWIC’s Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee. In April 2010 COSEWIC approved the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Process and Protocol Guidelines, providing clear and agreed principles for the gathering of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to carry out COSEWIC functions as required under Section 15(2) of SARA (See Appendix III of the attached report). We are grateful for the rich and enthusiastic contribution made by community elders and experts in helping the ATK Subcommittee prepare the ATK protocols.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#15), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-05-05)

    The work includes the monitoring of Fowler's Toad as part of the Fowler's Toad Recovery Programme. Toads to be live captured, marked, and released at the point of ther capture. Toads not to be injured, killed or removed. The work plan includes extensive use of remote monitoring methodology -- however -- the accuracy and reliability of a capture/census record is required on a seasonal basis in order to establish precise movement records. The capture/census work will occur only during and immediately after the May breeding season. The work involves a minimum disruption to the toad population.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-OR-2007-0046), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2007-05-02)

    The work includes the monitoring of Fowler's Toad as part of the Fowler's Toad Recovery Programme. Toads to be live captured, marked, and released at the point of ther capture. Toads not to be injured, killed or removed. The work plan includes extensive use of remote monitoring methodology -- however -- the accuracy and reliability of a capture/census record is required on a seasonal basis in order to establish precise movement records. The capture/census work will occur only during and immediately after the May breeding season. The work involves a minimum disruption to the toad population.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-OR-2008-0084), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2008-05-12)

    The work icludes the monitoring of Fowler's Toad as part of the Fowler's Toad Recovery Programme. Toads will be live captured, marked, and released at the point of their capture. Toads will not be injured, killed or removed. The work plan includes extensive use of remote monitoring methodology - however - the accuracy and reliability of a capture/census record is required on a seasonal basis in order to establish precise movement records. The capture/census work will occur only during and immediately after the May breeding season. The work involves a minimum of disruption to the toad population.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-OR-2008-0095), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2008-07-08)

    The work includes the monitoring of Fowler's Toad as part of the Fowler's Toad Recovery Programme. Toads will be live captured, marked, and released at the point of their capture. Toads will not be injured, killed or removed. The work plan includes extensive use of remote monitoring methodology - however - the accuracy andreliability of a capture/census record is required on a seasonal basis in order to establish precise movement records. The capture/census work will occur only during and immediately after the May breeding season. The work involves a minimum of disruption to the toad population.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – November 2010 (2010-12-02)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by February 4, 2011 for species undergoing normal consultations and by February 4, 2012 for species undergoing extended consultations.

Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette

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