Hi all,
    Thanks for showing your interest to volunteer in the urban Tucson amphibians and reptiles project. I am working with Dennis Caldwell to organize volunteers to report breeding species and sites for toads and frogs in the Tucson metropolitan area.

This year, we hope to get a running start. Once the monsoon rains start, there will be one to a few nights good for calling toad surveys.

If you have volunteered to participate, you can do one of the following:
    1. E-mail or phone in reports of breeding toads and frogs.
    2. Check around by vehicle to find additional sites near where you live or where you know breeding is likely.
    3. Partner with a more experienced person to do breeding and calling surveys.

Please send an E-mail to both Dennis Caldwell (dennis@caldwell-design.com) and me (pcrosen@u.arizona.edu) stating that you would like to participate, and how. Be sure to e-mail Dennis, as I will be away for several days on a trip planned prior to this project’s approval.

Following are some notes on procedure:

  1. When you find a record of an amphibian or breeding site, record it with either:. 
    a: Cross streets,
    b: Marked on a topographic or street map,
    c: As a GPS (Global Positioning System) location point.
  2. Be sure to include DATE, OBSERVER, SPECIES, and HOW DETECTED (heard, seen, collected)
  3. Deliver the information to Dennis Caldwell and me via e-mail ASAP.
  4. If you think you have found something unusual, indicate how we can reach you fastest.
  5. Attempt to verify unusual records with photos or recordings.

Generally, it would be most useful to learn:
    1. Where species other than the Couch’s Spadefoot are breeding.
    2. The location and general habitat of any sizable breeding (calling) aggregations.
    3. Any observation of one of the species listed AFTER number 4 (i.e., starting from the American Bullfrog).
    4. Historical perspectives you may have on the former occurrence of species.

We are working to get everyone legal access to recordings of all the frog and toad calls that could reasonably be expected to be heard in or near Tucson. You may be able to get a CD in town or from Cornell Labs (http://birds.cornell.edu/lab_cds.html), “Frog and Toad Calls of the Rocky Mountains; Vanishing Voices, by Carlos Davidson”, which includes ALL of our species. You may also borrow a tape or CD of this recording by contacting me or Dennis Caldwell.

You may find the following links useful:

http://alert.dot.pima.gov/scripts/pima.pl - this site reports rainfall at sites throughout the metropolitan area in real time, updated every 15 minutes.

http://www.dot.co.pima.az.us/gis/maps/mapguide/mgmap.cfm?path=dotmap5.mwf - this site will allow you to see color aerial images with all kinds of information about Tucson, the conservation plan, washes, landforms, etc. You will need a fast connection (DSL or Cable) to use this, and you need to go to the following page and install Pima County’s software first: http://www.dot.co.pima.az.us/gis/maps/. It is well worth it if you like maps or geography, and reasonably user-friendly. The images (especially the 2002 color orthophotos, which you turn on toward the end of the menus) may help you select areas to look, and understand the “plumbing” of areas you have visited.

Twelve species of anurans are definitely known from the Tucson metropolitan area, and at least one more is possible (not counting new exotics that may be possible, like the Green Frog). These are listed here in decreasing order from most likely and abundant (Couch’s Spadefoot) to number 13 (Burrowing Treefrog), which probably does not occur near the city.

One species is likely to occur throughout the area: Couch’s Spadefoot

Three other species are likely to occur at a few other localities in the urban core, and more widely within the city’s periphery, in decreasing order of probable abundance: Great Plains Toad, Mexican (or Southern) Spadefoot, Sonoran Desert (or Colorado River) Toad.

One introduced species is likely to occur (and be heard calling) around permanent ponds, and may disperse widely: American Bullfrog.

Three other species are known, but generally expected to be uncommon in Tucson: Red-spotted Toad (mostly in mountains), Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toad, Canyon Treefrog (mostly in mountains).

The Lowland Leopard Frog may reappear in the valley (where it was once abundant), but seems to be rapidly dwindling, even in the mountains around Tucson.

The Southwestern Woodhouse’s Toad occurred in Tucson through the 1960’s, but has not been reported in recent decades. This toad must be distinguished carefully from the Great Plains Toad (a photo will do; the calls are very different).

The African Clawed Frog, Sonoran Green Toad, and Burrowing Treefrog (or Northern Casque-headed Frog) could also be found, although these are relatively unlikely.

There are other aspects of this urban Tucson herpetology project, including looking at the relationship between mosquitoes and amphibian and crustacean sites, the historical fauna of Tucson, and the distribution of box turtles. Let me know if you are also interested in these aspects, but for now, let’s find the summer frogs and toads.

Phil Rosen – phone  621-3187 (lab)

4th of July 204

Dennis Caldwell – phone 624-0198