Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Canada [PROPOSED] – 2013
Species at Risk Act
Recovery Strategy Series
Adopted under Section 44 of SARA
Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad
(Anaxyrus fowleri) in Canada [PROPOSED] – 2013
The federal recovery strategy for the Fowler’s Toad in Canada consists of three parts:
Part 1 – Federal Addition to the "Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario", prepared by Environment Canada.
Table of Contents
- Additions and Modifications to the Adopted Document
- 1. Species Status Information
- 2. Recovery Feasibility
- 3. Population and Distribution Objectives
- 4. Broad Strategies and General Approaches to Meet Objectives
- 5. Critical Habitat
- 5.1 Identification of the Species’ Critical Habitat
- 5.2 Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat
- 5.3 Examples of Activities Likely to Result in the Destruction of Critical Habitat
- 6. Statement on Action Plans
- 7. Effects on the Environment and Other Species
- Appendix 1
For copies of the recovery strategy, or for additional information on species at risk, including COSEWIC Status Reports, residence descriptions, action plans, and other related recovery documents, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry.
Cover illustration: © David Green
Également disponible en français sous le titre
« Programme de rétablissement du crapaud de Fowler (Anaxyrus fowleri) au Canada [Proposition] »
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2013. All rights reserved.
Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.
PART 1 – Federal Addition to the “Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario”, prepared by Environment Canada
The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress within five years.
The Minister of the Environment is the competent minister for the recovery of the Fowler’s Toad and has prepared this strategy, 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 Province of Ontario led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the species (Part 2) in cooperation with Environment Canada. The Ontario Government Response Statement has also been included as part of the adoption to clarify the priorities for implementation (Part 3). A Government Response Statement is the Ontario Government’s policy response to the recovery strategy that summarizes the prioritized actions that the government intends to take.
Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Fowler’s Toad and Canadian society as a whole.
This recovery strategy will be followed by one or more action plans that will provide information on recovery measures to be taken by Environment Canada and other jurisdictions and/or organizations involved in the conservation of the species. Implementation of this strategy is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.
Development of the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1) was coordinated by Angela Darwin and Kari Van Allen (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario) with input from the Fowler’s Toad Recovery Team: Anne Yagi (Chair), Sandy Dobbyn, David M. Green, M. Alex Smith, Amy Brant, Tim Seburn, Jeff Robinson, Michael Oldham, James Duncan, Kim Frohlich, Ron Gould, Bob Johnson, Jason Mask, Vicki McKay, Mark Custers, Mike Potsma, Devin Mills, Diana Haywood and Scott Taylor. Sincere thanks are extended to Talena Kraus (Artemis Eco-Works) for preparing earlier drafts of this recovery strategy and to David Seburn (Seburn Ecological Services) for developing initial drafts of the critical habitat component.
The recovery strategy benefitted from the input and suggestions from the following individuals and organizations: Christina Rohe, Marie-Claude Archambault, Angela McConnell, Barbara Slezak, Lesley Dunn and Madeline Austen (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario); Bree Walpole, Leanne Jennings, Joe Crowley, Sandy Dobbyn, Jennifer Hoare, Joe Nocera, Allen Woodliffe and Anne Yagi (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources); Kim Borg and Vicky McKay (Parks Canada Agency). Thanks are also extended to David Green for the cover photo.
The following sections address specific requirements of SARA that are not addressed in the Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario (Part 2), and/or to provide updated information, and/or modify sections for adoption by Environment Canada.
Fowler’s Toad is listed as Endangered on Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). In Ontario, it is listed as Endangered under the provincial Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA 2007).
The global conservation rank for Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) is secure (G5) (NatureServe 2010). It is considered secure (N5) in the United States and imperiled in Canada (N2) (NatureServe 2010). The Fowler’s Toad occurs throughout most of the eastern United States, from southeastern Iowa in the west to southern New Hampshire in the east, and from Wisconsin in the north to eastern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and northern Florida in the south. It is considered secure (S5) or apparently secure (S4) in twenty of the thirty-one states in which it has been documented to occur (Appendix 1).
In Canada, the Fowler’s Toad is found only in the province of Ontario, along the northern shore of Lake Erie, where its subnational conservation rank is imperiled (S2) (NatureServe 2010).
The percentage of the global range found in Canada is estimated to be ≤1%.
Based on the following four criteria outlined in the draft SARA Policies (Government of Canada 2009), there are unknowns regarding the feasibility of recovery of the Fowler’s Toad. In keeping with the precautionary principle, a full recovery strategy has been prepared as would be done when recovery is determined to be feasible.
- 1. Individuals of the wildlife species that are capable of reproduction are available now or in the foreseeable future to sustain the population or improve its abundance.
Unknown. Individuals capable of reproduction are currently available in Canada. However, the Population Viability Analysis (PVA) for the Canadian populations resulted in a greater than 20% probability of extirpation within 20 years and it is therefore unknown whether the current populations are large enough to sustain themselves, or improve their abundance. The Fowler’s Toad does have a large range in eastern North America with many stable populations that occur in the United States (NatureServe 2010). Recent evidence indicates that populations located along the south shores of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania and Ohio may be related to, and possibly derived from, Canadian populations, but this is not known with certainty (Green et al. 2011). Additionally, the subnational status rank of Fowler’s Toad in Pennsylvania is vulnerable and in Ohio is unranked (NatureServe 2010; Appendix 1). It is therefore unknown whether extant populations in the United States would be available to support recovery in Canada, or if recovery efforts involving such populations would be feasible.
- 2. Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the species or could be made available through habitat management or restoration.
Unknown. Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the three extant populations in Canada. However, species abundance continues to decline and if re-establishing self-sustaining populations is determined to be necessary to support species’ recovery, then further investigation of available habitat of sufficient quality will need to occur.
- 3. The primary threats to the species or its habitat (including threats outside Canada) can be avoided or mitigated.
Unknown. Some of the primary threats to the species’ habitat, including vegetation succession on dune habitats by native and non-native plants and direct disturbance to habitat by beach grooming processes and vehicular use can be mitigated through habitat management activities. However, it is unknown whether other primary threats, such as pollution and the impacts of genetic isolation can be avoided or mitigated sufficiently to sustain the population or improve its abundance.
- 4. Recovery techniques exist to achieve the population and distribution objectives or can be expected to be developed within a reasonable timeframe.
Unknown. Although techniques to facilitate species recovery are available now and/or can be adapted within a reasonable timeframe, it is uncertain whether these techniques will be sufficient to maintain the three extant populations of Fowler’s Toad in Canada. Examples of recovery techniques that may be employed include activities related to habitat management such as the creation of dunes for hibernation habitat, the creation of breeding sites (i.e., digging ponds), the removal of exotic species to improve dune quality, the removal or mitigation of dispersal barriers (e.g. culverts, breakwalls) and the termination of beach grooming activities.
The provincial recovery strategy contains the following recovery goal:
- Maintain the three extant populations of Fowler’s Toad in Ontario, in the Rondeau area, on the Long Point peninsula and along the Niagara peninsula, and re-establish self-sustaining populations in other suitable areas, where feasible.
Under SARA, population and distribution objectives for the species must be established. The population and distribution objectives established by Environment Canada for the Fowler’s Toad in Canada are to maintain the three extant populations in the Rondeau area, on the Long Point peninsula and on the Niagara peninsula, and to determine the feasibility of re-establishing self-sustaining populations in other suitable areas of sufficient habitat quality. The population and distribution objective is consistent with the recovery goal identified in the Ontario Government Response Statement (Part 3).
The Government-Led and Government-Supported Actions tables from Ontario’s Government Response Statement (Part 3) are adopted as the broad strategies and general approaches to meet the population and distribution objectives. These replace the approaches identified in Section 2 of the Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario (Part 2).
Critical habitat for the Fowler’s Toad in Canada is identified in this recovery strategy, to the extent possible, based on the best available information. It is recognized that the critical habitat identified below is insufficient to achieve the population and distribution objectives for this species because it is known there are currently occupied sites on both the Long Point and Niagara peninsulas that are undocumented (D. Green pers. comm. 2011; A. Yagi pers. comm. 2011), which may be necessary to ensure persistence of those populations. However, population and habitat information must first be confirmed for these sites before critical habitat can be identified. The Schedule of Studies (Section 5.2) outlines the activities required to identify additional critical habitat necessary to support the population and distribution objectives.
The identification of critical habitat for the Fowler’s Toad in Canada is based on the following two criteria: suitable habitat and site occupancy. Suitable habitat for the Fowler’s Toad consists of four habitat types, each of which is described in section 5.1.1. Additionally, where continuous suitable habitat exists between two sites within ≤1 km of each other AND where there are no barriers to movement (e.g., solid shorewalls, breakwalls) that completely divide the suitable habitat, this habitat will be described as a dispersal corridor and will also be identified as critical habitat as described in section 5.1.3.
In Canada, extant populations of Fowler’s Toad occur only along the north shore of Lake Erie, in southwestern Ontario. Generally, they are found in open to early successional shoreline habitat within this region, but have specific habitat requirements that include both terrestrial and aquatic communities.
In order to complete its life cycle, the Fowler’s Toad requires four types of habitat: hibernation habitat; breeding, egg laying and tadpole development habitat; feeding and hydration habitat; and daytime retreat and aestivation habitat. All four habitat types should be located within close proximity (i.e. generally within a few hundred metres) of each other.
1. Hibernation habitat
In Ontario, the Fowler’s Toad hibernates inland from the lakeshore in open to moderately vegetated sand dunes, beaches and other sandy areas along the Lake Erie shoreline (Green et al. 2011; COSEWIC 2010). Hibernation habitat must be sufficiently deep to allow Fowler’s Toads to remain beneath the frostline, but above the watertable over the winter months, i.e., generally from late September to mid-May (Green et al. 2008). The distance inland from the lake shoreline can vary with changing lake levels, but always remains within the sand beach and dune habitat.
2. Breeding, egg laying and tadpole development habitat
For breeding, egg laying and tadpole development, the Fowler’s Toad requires the use of aquatic environments that persist until at least midsummer in order to complete development (COSEWIC 2010). Additionally, this habitat must include a sand or bedrock substrate and sparse to moderate vegetation cover (primarily sedges and bulrushes) (COSEWIC 2010; Green et al. 2007; Yagi and Mills 2003). In Ontario, breeding, egg laying and tadpole development habitat has been described in a number of ways including, the still water of semi-permanent ponds and marshes, temporary pools and/or waterbodies, sandy bottom pools, shallow rocky shoals, rocky pools, rocky headland pools, creek outlet areas on sandy beaches, and/or shallow bays along the lakeshore (COSEWIC 2010; Green et al. 2007; Yagi and Mills 2003; COSEWIC 2000).
3. Feeding and hydration habitat
In Ontario, sandy beaches and adjacent inland early-successional habitat along Lake Erie are used for feeding and hydration. Most active in the evening, the Fowler’s Toad can be found feeding and re-hydrating on shorelines, including bedrock outcrop areas, dunes and beaches (Green et al. 2011; COSEWIC 2010; Green 2008; Yagi and Tervo 2008).
4. Daytime retreat and aestivation habitat
Daytime retreat and aestivation habitat has been described as the areas on the inland part of the beach near the base of a dune (Green 2008). Dune habitat may be open, or sparsely to moderately vegetated with dune grasses or early successional herbs (Yagi and Mills 2003). Rocks, woody debris and other objects that provide cover may also be present (Green et al. 2011). Fowler’s Toads will dig into these sandy areas during the day and when avoiding harsh weather conditions (COSEWIC 2010).
The four habitat types listed above can largely be described using the Ecological Land Classification (ELC) for Southern Ontario (Lee et al. 1998). The ELC framework provides a standardized approach to the interpretation and delineation of dynamic ecosystem boundaries. The ELC approach classifies habitats not only by vegetation community, but also considers hydrology and topography, and as such provides a basis to capture the ecosystem requirements for the Fowler’s Toad. Suitable habitat for the Fowler’s Toad can be found within the following ELC community series:
- Open Beach / Bar (BBO)
- Shrub Beach / Bar (BBS)
- Treed Beach / Bar (BBT)
- Open Sand Dune (SDO)
- Shrub Sand Dune (SDS)
- Treed Sand Dune (SDT)
- Open Sand Barren (SBO)
- Shrub Sand Barren (SBS)
- Treed Sand Barren (SBT)
- Meadow Marsh (MAM)
- Shallow Marsh (MAS)
- Floating-leaved Shallow Aquatic (SAF)
- Mixed Shallow Aquatic (SAM)
- Submerged Shallow Aquatic (SAS)
There are additional habitat types that can be considered suitable for Fowler’s Toads that are not well described by ELC. In addition to the above listed ELC community series, shallow rocky pools, creek outlets in sandy beaches, open shallow sand shorelines, cultural sand dunes (i.e. habitats that focus on sand, rocky (limestone bedrock) and shallow water) where vegetation is sparse and under the influence of Lake Erie’s dynamic environment are also included as suitable habitat.
Site Occupancy Criterion
The site occupancy criterion is defined as sites (as defined below) where one or more Fowler’s Toads have been observed between 2001 and 2010.
A ten year time period (2001 - 2010) recognizes that the absence of Fowler’s Toads for a particular site may only be temporary as extirpation and recolonization of breeding areas is natural in this species. A ten year time period also represents two times the maximum recorded age of Fowler’s Toad (COSEWIC 2010). Additionally, survey effort may be limited in some areas and a ten year time period will ensure there is sufficient time to survey the majority of available suitable habitat within the three known extant populations. Records older than ten years would require further investigation to confirm the presence of the Fowler’s Toad as well as the continued presence of available suitable habitat.
- Site Length
As a precautionary measure, a distance of 150 metres (measured parallel to the shoreline), both up and down the shoreline from the observation, is considered the site length (Figure 1). A distance of 150 metres was chosen because it represents approximately two times the average seasonal movement observed for Fowler’s Toads per year (COSEWIC 2010; Green 2008; Yagi and Tervo 2008; Green and Sanderson 2007).
- Site Width
As a precautionary measure, a distance of 700 metres (measured perpendicular to the Lake Erie high water mark), representing the furthest approximate distancetravelled inland by the Fowler’s Toad in Canada (D.M. Green, unpublished data), AND the distance between the high water mark down to the dynamic shoreline is considered the site width (Figure 1).
The site length and width measurements are applied to records of the Fowler’s Toad observed between 2001 and 2010 (as per the site occupancy criterion) with overlapping areas merged as larger sites (Figure 1). When barriers to movement, such as large rivers (e.g. Niagara River), canals, steep bluffs, solid shoreline breakwalls, solid-wall piers or groynes, clay bluffs and culverts or the end of continuous suitable habitat come prior to the end of the site length or width, these constitute the edge of the site boundary.
In order to maintain connectivity between sites and reduce the probability of genetic isolation, where continuous suitable habitat within sites (as defined in Section 5.1.2) are within ≤1 km of each other AND continuous suitable habitat (as described in Section 5.1.1) is present between sites AND sites are not separated by a barrier to movement, the intervening continuous suitable habitat is identified as a dispersal corridor (Figure 2). The one kilometre value was derived based on seasonal dispersal distances of Fowler’s Toad in Canada (COSEWIC 2010; Yagi and Tervo 2008; Smith and Green 2006).
Although the Fowler’s Toad likely disperses inland from the shoreline through a variety of other habitat types, these habitats are not currently included in the identification of critical habitat.
Critical habitat for the Fowler’s Toad is identified in this recovery strategy as the continuous suitable habitat (Section 5.1.1) within the site boundary as described in the site occupancy criterion (Section 5.1.2). In addition, where continuous suitable habitat exists between two sites within ≤1 km of each other AND where there are no barriers to movement (e.g., solid shorewalls, breakwalls that completely divide the suitable habitat) the continuous suitable habitat within the intervening dispersal corridor is also identified as critical habitat (Figure 3). Where applicable, the sites and dispersal corridor(s) are merged creating a critical habitat site.
Although the Fowler’s Toad may occupy only a small portion of the suitable habitat, the continuous suitable habitat within the site is identified as critical habitat because maintaining continuous suitable habitat facilitates species movement between and among areas where individuals carry out essential aspects of their life cycle. The addition of suitable yet unoccupied habitat that joins together occupied suitable habitat, allows movement between suitable habitat patches and prevents suitable habitat patches from becoming isolated from each other. Although individuals of the Fowler’s Toad may be observed in locations outside of suitable habitat, these locations are not included in the identification of critical habitat.
Application of the critical habitat criteria to available information identified 28 sites in Canada as critical habitat for the Fowler’s Toad (Table 1). It is important to note that the coordinates represent the site polygon that contains critical habitat, and not the extent or boundaries of the critical habitat itself. The extent and boundaries of the critical habitat within each site are defined by the extent of continuous suitable habitat as defined by the suitable habitat description, and will vary by location.
|Population||Site Name||County||Description||Land Tenure||Coordinates representing the site2|
|Long Point||Big Creek NWA1 – Big Creek Unit to Hahn Unit – Hastings Drive Beach||Norfolk||Big Creek National Wildlife Area - Big Creek Unit along shoreline of Hastings Drive to the Big Creek National Wildlife Area - Hahn Unit shoreline||Federal, Non-federal||42.577||-80.488|
|Pines/Winston||Norfolk||North of Erie Boulevard between Buck Lane and Norfolk Avenue, midpoint at Winston Parkway||Non-federal||42.577||-80.427|
|Pond North of Long Point Provincial Park West||Norfolk||North of Erie Boulevard at Long Point Provincial Park West||Non-federal||42.577||-80.415|
|Austin||Norfolk||West of Austin Parkway||Non-federal||42.577||-80.415|
|Crown Beach to Long Point Provincial Park and Thoroughfare Beaches||Norfolk||Along shoreline from Crown Beach through Long Point Provincial Park beaches to Long Point National Wildlife Area – Thoroughfare Unit beach||Federal, Non-federal||42.577||-80.379|
|Long Point Provincial Park North||Norfolk||Long Point Provincial Park north of Erie Boulevard||Non-federal||42.577||-80.391|
|Long Point NWA South Shore 1||Norfolk||Long Point National Wildlife Area South Shore||Federal||42.54||-80.196|
|Long Point NWA South Shore 2||Norfolk||Long Point National Wildlife Area South Shore||Federal||42.54||-80.196|
|Long Point NWA Gravelly Bay||Norfolk||Long Point National Wildlife Area Gravelly Bay||Federal||42.548||-80.111|
|Long Point NWA Squire’s Ridge||Norfolk||Long Point National Wildlife Area Squire’s Ridge||Federal||42.558||-80.233|
|Rondeau||Rondeau Provincial Park||Chatham- Kent||Shoreline of Rondeau Provincial Park to Antrim Road||Non-federal||42.25||-81.921|
|Erieau||Chatham- Kent||Erieau shoreline||Non-federal||42.269||-81.861|
|Niagara||R.R. 50 Haldimand||Haldimand||Shoreline at foot of R.R. 50, Haldimand County||Non-federal||42.842||-79.752|
|Aikens Road/Blott Point||Haldimand||Shoreline at foot of Aikens Road, Haldimand County||Non-federal||42.85||-79.678|
|James N. Allan Park – Camp Kiawa||Haldimand||West side shoreline of James N. Allan Provincial Park||Non-federal||42.841||-79.678|
|James N. Allan Park – Low Point||Haldimand||East side shoreline of James N. Allan Provincial Park at Bryer Line||Non-federal||42.841||-79.666|
|Sandy Bay Road||Haldimand||Shoreline at foot of Sandy Bay Road, Haldimand County||Non-federal||42.841||-79.654|
|Long Beach Conservation Area||Niagara||Long Beach Conservation Area shoreline||Non-federal||42.865||-79.433|
|Long Beach||Niagara||East Willow Bay along Long Beach shoreline||Non-federal||42.864||-79.396|
|Easter Seal Camp and Morgan’s Point||Niagara||Shoreline from Sideroad 18 to Morgan’s Point||Non-federal||42.855||-79.36|
|Rathfon Point, Reebs Bay||Niagara||Shoreline at foot of Rathfon Road, Niagara County||Non-federal||42.872||-79.31|
|Gravelly Bay West||Niagara||West Gravelly Bay shoreline||Non-federal||42.872||-79.273|
|Gravelly Bay East||Niagara||East Gravelly Bay shoreline||42.872||-79.273|
|Nickel Beach and Lorraine Bay Beach||Niagara||Nickel Beach from Gravelly Bay around Lorraine Point to Lorraine Bay||Non-federal||42.871||-79.237|
|Centennial Beach||Niagara||Cedar Bay shoreline at Humberstone Centennial Park||Non-federal||42.87||-79.188|
|Sherkston Shores to Point Abino||Niagara||Shoreline from foot of Wyldewood Road to Point Abino||Non-federal||42.851||-79.127|
|Point Abino to Crystal Beach Pier||Niagara||Abino Bay shoreline to Crystal Beach Pier||Non-federal||42.86||-79.127|
|Crystal Beach Pier to Waverley Beach||Niagara||Shoreline from Crystal Beach Pier to Waverley Beach||Non-federal||42.876||-78.992|
1 NWA – National Wildlife Area
2 The listed coordinates represent the southwest corner of the 1 km Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Military Grid Reference System square containing the critical habitat site centroid (see [UTM Grid Section 5] for more information on the reference system). The coordinates may not fall within critical habitat and are provided as a general location only.
Destruction is determined on a case by case basis. Destruction would result if part of the critical habitat were degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from a single or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time (Government of Canada 2009).
Activities that are likely to result in the destruction of Fowler’s Toad critical habitat include, but may not be limited to:
- Activities that alter or disrupt the natural dynamic processes of sand dune and lake shore habitats (i.e., development and stabilization of the shoreline through such activities as installation of breakwalls, construction of shoreline protection measures and construction of piers or groynes) may reduce or eliminate suitable habitat because these activities could eliminate hibernation sites outright, or reduce access to habitats that the Fowler’s Toad needs in order to complete its life cycle (e.g., foraging habitat, hibernation habitat).
- Activities that result in the compaction of sandy shoreline habitats, such as beach grooming and grading, clearing of algae and intensive recreational use of beaches and dunes (e.g., vehicle use), may prevent Fowler’s Toads from digging into the sand and thereby reduce or remove habitat that was otherwise suitable for aestivation and/or daytime retreat.
- Activities that result in loss of habitat (e.g., draining and filling of backshore wetlands, introduction of invasive species) may eliminate outright the habitats that the species needs for survival.
- Activities that result in fragmentation of the habitat (e.g., isolation of backshore wetlands by roads or infrastructure) may reduce access to the habitats that the species needs for survival.
- Activities that result in contamination of Fowler’s Toad habitat (e.g., pollution from agriculture and mosquito control measures [chemical] and contamination from heavy metals) degrade the water quality in the habitats used by the species to the point that the species or its prey bioaccumulates such toxins.
One or more action plans will be completed for the Fowler’s Toad by December 2018.
A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making.
Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.
This recovery strategy will clearly benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the Fowler’s Toad and other species associated with the early successional shoreline habitat in which they occur (Table 3).
While some of the proposed recovery activities will benefit the environment in general and are expected to positively affect other sympatric native species, there could be consequences to those species whose requirements differ from those of Fowler’s Toad. Consequently, it is important that habitat management activities for the Fowler’s Toad be considered from an ecosystem perspective through the development of multi-species plans, ecosystem-based recovery programs or area management plans that take into account the needs of multiple species, including other species at risk with input from responsible jurisdictions.
COSEWIC. 2000. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Fowler’s toad Bufo fowleri in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. v + 25 pp.
COSEWIC. 2010. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Fowler’s Toad Anaxyrus fowleri in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 58 pp. (www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm)
Government of Canada. 2009. Species at Risk Act Policies, Overarching Policy Framework 588 [Draft]. Species at Risk Act Policy and Guidelines Series. Environment Canada. Ottawa. 589 38 pp.
Green, David M., A. R. Yagi and Stewart E. Hamill. 2011. Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario. Ontario Recovery Strategy Series. Prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. vi + 21 pp.
Green, D.M. 2008. Movements and Habitat Use by Fowler’s Toads, Bufo (Anaxyrus) fowleri, at Hahn Beach, Big Creek NWA, Long Point, Ontario. Unpublished report to Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada. 30pp.
Green, D.M. 2011. pers. comm. 2011. Correspondence to K. Van Allen. June 2011. Professor and Director, Redpath Musem, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec.
Green, D.M., and N.K. Sanderson. Radio-tracking Fowler’s Toads in Long Point, Ontario – Field Report for 2007. Unpublished report to Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada. 7 pp.
Lee, H.T., W.D. Bakowsky, J. Riley, J. Bowles, M. Puddister, P. Uhlig and S. McMurray. 1998. Ecological Land Classification for Southern Ontario: First Approximation and Its Application. OMNR, Southcentral Science Section, Science Development and Transfer Branch. SCSS Field Guide FG-02. 225 pp.
NatureServe. 2010. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. (Accessed: February 12, 2011).
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR). 2011. Final Government Response Statement, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. [Accessed July 2011].
Smith, M. A. and D.M. Green. 2004. Phylogeography of Bufo fowleri at its northern edge of range. Molecular Ecology 13(12): 3723-3733pp.
Smith, M.A. and D.M. Green. 2006. Sex, isolation and fidelity: unbiased long-distance dispersal in a terrestrial amphibian. –- Ecography 29: 649-658pp.
Yagi, A.R. and D. Mills. 2003. Interim Report: Fowler’s Toad (Bufo fowleri) abundance and habitat use at Morgan’s Point Conservation Area with habitat enhancement recommendations. Unpublished report to Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 8 pp.
Yagi, A.R. and R. Tervo. 2008. Species at Risk Habitat Mapping for the Fowler’s toad (Bufo fowleri)- a Test of Draft Habitat Mapping Guidelines. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 19pp.
Yagi, A.R., pers. comm. 2011. Correspondence to K. Van Allen. June 2011. Niagara Area Management Biologist – Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Vineland, Ontario.
|Global (G) Rank||National (N) Rank|
|Sub-national (S) Rank|
|Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)||G5 |
(Secure – Common; widespread and abundant)
(Secure – Common, widespread, and abundant in the nation or state)
District of Columbia (S5)
New Hampshire (S3)
New Jersey (S3)
New York (S4)
North Carolina (S5)
Rhode Island (S3)
South Carolina (SNR)
West Virginia (S5)
S1: Critically Imperiled; S2: Imperiled; S3: Vulnerable; S4: Apparently Secure; S5: Secure; SNR:
Unranked; SNA: Not Applicable; SH: Possibly Extirpated; SX: Presumed Extirpated
Footnotes – Part 1
1 wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction
2 a species facing imminent extinction or extirpation in Ontario
3 a species that is considered common; widespread and abundant
4 a species that is at high risk of extinction or elimination due to very restricted range, very few populations, steep declines, or other factors
5 a species that is considered uncommon, but not rare; there is some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors
6 imperiled in the province because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the nation or province
7 an inactive state resembling deep sleep. Aestivation protects the toads against heat and dryness.
8 characterized by continuous change or activity
9 barriers to movement include features such as large rivers (e.g. Niagara River), canals, steep bluffs, solid shoreline breakwalls, solid-wall piers or groynes, clay bluffs and culverts.
PART 2 - Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario, prepared by David M. Green, Anne R. Yagi and Stewart E. Hamill for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
The Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario was translated by Environment Canada in order to be included in the French version of the federal recovery strategy.
Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario
Recovery strategy prepared under the Endangered Species Act, 2007
Natural, Valued, Protected
Ministry of Natural Resources
- Recommended Citation
- Responsible Jurisdictions
- Executive Summary
- 1.0 Background Information
- 2.0 Recovery
- Recovery Strategy Development Team Members
List of Figures
- Figure 1. Range of Fowler’s Toad in North America
- Figure 2. Distribution of Fowler’s Toad in Ontario
- Figure 3. Locations around Lake Erie where Fowler’s Toad populations currently xist
List of Tables
- Table 1. Protection and recovery objectives
- Table 2. Approaches to recovery of the Fowler’s Toad in Ontario
About the Ontario Recovery Strategy Series
This series presents the collection of recovery strategies that are prepared or adopted as advice to the Province of Ontario on the recommended approach to recover species at risk. The Province ensures the preparation of recovery strategies to meet its commitments to recover species at risk under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA, 2007) and the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada.
What is recovery?
Recovery of species at risk is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed, and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of a species’ persistence in the wild.
What is a recovery strategy?
Under the ESA, 2007, a recovery strategy provides the best available scientific knowledge on what is required to achieve recovery of a species. A recovery strategy outlines the habitat needs and the threats to the survival and recovery of the species. It also makes recommendations on the objectives for protection and recovery, the approaches to achieve those objectives, and the area that should be considered in the development of a habitat regulation. Sections 11 to 15 of the ESA, 2007 outline the required content and timelines for developing recovery strategies published in this series.
Recovery strategies are required to be prepared for endangered and threatened species within one or two years respectively of the species being added to the
Species at Risk in Ontario list. There is a transition period of five years (until June 30, 2013) to develop recovery strategies for those species listed as endangered or
threatened in the schedules of the ESA, 2007. Recovery strategies are required to be prepared for extirpated species only if reintroduction is considered feasible.
Nine months after the completion of a recovery strategy a government response statement will be published which summarizes the actions that the Government of
Ontario intends to take in response to the strategy. The implementation of recovery strategies depends on the continued cooperation and actions of government
agencies, individuals, communities, land users, and conservationists.
For more information
To learn more about species at risk recovery in Ontario,
please visit the Ministry of Natural Resources Species at Risk webpage.
Green, David M., Anne R. Yagi, and Stewart E. Hamill. 2011. Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in Ontario. Ontario Recovery Strategy Series. Prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. vi + 21 pp.
Cover illustration: Sam Brinker
© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2011
ISBN 978-1-4435-4957-8 (PDF)
Content (excluding the cover illustration) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.
Cette publication hautement spécialisée Recovery strategies prepared under the Endangered Species Act, 2007, n’est disponible qu’en anglais en vertu du Règlement 411/97 qui en exempte l’application de la Loi sur les services en français. Pour obtenir de l’aide en français, veuillez communiquer avec Pamela Wesley au ministère des Richesses naturelles au 705-755-5217.
Dr. David M. Green - Redpath Museum, McGill University, Montreal
Anne R. Yagi – Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Niagara
Stewart E. Hamill – Wildlife Biologist, Merrickville
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) Species at Risk Biologists, Karine Bériault, Rhonda Donley, and Bree Walpole provided guidance and information. The recovery team (listed on page 21) assisted in the preparation of this strategy. We thank those who reviewed and commented on various drafts.
The recovery strategy for the Fowler’s Toad has been developed in accordance with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA). This recovery strategy has been prepared as advice to the Government of Ontario, other responsible jurisdictions and the many different constituencies that may be involved in recovering the species.
The recovery strategy does not necessarily represent the views of all of the individuals who provided advice or contributed to its preparation, or the official positions of the organizations with which the individuals are associated.
The goals, objectives and recovery approaches identified in the strategy are based on the best available knowledge and are subject to revision as new information becomes available. Implementation of this strategy is subject to appropriations, priorities and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.
Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service - Ontario
Parks Canada Agency
Although widespread throughout the eastern United States, Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) has been found in Canada only on the shores of Lake Erie in Ontario, formerly occurring along most of the northern shore. Populations are now known from only three peninsulas: Rondeau, Long Point, and Niagara. In these areas the Fowler’s Toad is sympatric with the American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus). Fowler’s Toad no longer occurs in any localities along the shoreline of western Lake Erie. The species is listed as endangered on the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List under the Endangered Species Act, 2007, and was classified as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
In Canada, Fowler’s Toad is found on sandy or rocky points, sand dunes, and beaches along Lake Erie, where it breeds in sandy-bottomed ponds or rocky pools in early successional habitats. Because of this, it is profoundly affected by, but adapted to, changes brought about by the lake. Both juveniles and adults are capable of dispersing up to ten kilometres and can re-colonize habitats after local extirpations. However, steep bluffs along much of the Lake Erie coastline can impede movements along the beach.Required habitats include dunes for hibernation, beaches for hiding, shorelines for feeding and hydrating, rocky or sandy shoreline pools for breeding and tadpole development, and corridors for movement.
Limiting factors include a high mortality rate, short life span, and low genetic variability.
Most threats to the species in Ontario are related to intensive human use of the Lake Erie shoreline. This includes industrial, commercial, housing, road development, and recreational activities. These developments interrupt the natural processes of erosion and deposition necessary to maintain habitat features for all of the Fowler’s Toad’s life stages. Intensive alterations to nearshore, beach, and dune areas for human recreation activities and aesthetics can cause direct mortality of all life stages and loss of habitat features. Pollution may have been responsible for eliminating Fowler’s Toad from parts of its historic range and could have continuing impacts. Spread of the invasive European Common Reed (Phragmites australis)and of other invasive species can also eliminate habitat.
The recovery goal is to maintain the three extant populations of Fowler’s Toad in Ontario, in the Rondeau area, on the Long Point peninsula, and along the Niagara Peninsula, and to re-establish self-sustaining populations in other suitable areas, where feasible.
The following objectives, each having a set of approaches, have been established:
- Protect existing populations and habitats of Fowler’s Toad.
- Gather more data about Fowler’s Toad, about human impacts on populations and habitat, and about how to mitigate these impacts.
- Mitigate existing human impacts on Fowler’s Toad populations and habitat, reduce risks of predicted or impending impacts, and improve habitat.
- Determine the feasibility of reintroduction of Fowler’s Toad in suitable areas.
- Re-establish self-sustaining populations of Fowler’s Toad in suitable areas, where feasible.
- Extend current monitoring programs to re-established populations and all areas with suitable habitat.
Within the three areas of current Ontario occurrence, and within 0.5 km of the Lake Erie shoreline,
- all sand beaches,
- all sand dunes,
- all sandy-bottomed ponds and marshes, rocky shoals, and seasonal pools, and
- all shorelines associated with or linking these features,
should be prescribed as habitat in a habitat regulation.
Because the species can disperse and re-populate areas where it has disappeared, all areas of historic Fowler’s Toad occurrence should be monitored for re-appearance. If at any time individuals of the species re-appear or are re-introduced, the four habitats (described above) in that area should be prescribed as habitat in the habitat regulation.
The glossary provides definitions for the abbreviations above.
Fowler’s Toad is listed as a specially protected amphibian under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
Fowler’s Toad is a medium-sized member of the family Bufonidae. The adult body is 50 to 80 mm in length, excluding legs, with females slightly larger than males. The back is gray or buff coloured, with darker patches and numerous small dark brown warts on a granular textured skin. There are usually three or more small warts per dark dorsal spot; however, while diagnostic, this character is not always useful as the spots may be small and indistinct in some specimens, particularly in Canada. The under surface is white or cream coloured and is either without spots or with a single dark pectoral spot situated between the forelimbs. The throat is dark in males but white in females. The snout is short and blunt and the bony cranial crests on the head are weak (Wright and Wright 1949).
The mating call of the male Fowler’s Toad has been described as a “prolonged and rather shrill scream” (Green 2004). Call characteristics vary with temperature: as the temperature goes up, call pulse rate increases and call duration declines (Zweifel 1968). Dominant frequency (pitch, in MHz) is closely correlated with body size. Males also issue a grumbling, vibrating release call when handled, whether by humans or by other toads, to announce their gender (Brown and Littlejohn 1972). Females are silent.
The Fowler’s Toad has a complex life cycle, which in Ontario involves the use of both aquatic (egg and larval development) and terrestrial (juveniles and adults) habitats within close proximity to Lake Erie. Toads hibernate during the winter months and congregate in late spring to breed.
The Fowler’s Toad lives no longer than 5 years (Kellner and Green 1995) and suffers high levels of mortality at all life stages, despite producing noxious and toxic skin secretions. Hybridization with the sympatric American Toad is known to occur (Green 1984).
In Ontario, populations naturally fluctuate, locally and lake-wide, based on Lake Erie storm events and water level cycles. Both juveniles and adults can disperse up to ten kilometres and can recolonize habitats after local extirpations, provided there are no barriers. Fowler’s Toad repopulated Big Creek National Wildlife Area at Long Point in 1991 after an absence of a few years (Smith and Green 2006).
Fowler’s Toad plays the role of small insectivore, specializing in ants and beetles (Judd 1957, Bush and Melnick 1962). Tadpoles are significant detritivores in small ponds, rocky pools, and embayments. No other anurans in the Great Lakes region habitually and primarily forage along lakeshores and dunes. In turn, higher-level carnivores including snakes, birds, fish, mammals, and other frogs are the primary predators of Fowler’s Toad.
Fowler’s Toad inhabits much of North America east of the Great Plains, excluding the southern Atlantic coastal plain from the Carolinas to the western panhandle of Florida (Figure 1).
The species is not listed as a species of concern federally in the United States or in any of the states adjacent to Ontario. However, populations along the south shore of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania and Ohio may be imperilled. These populations are disjunct from the species’ primary range and recent evidence indicates that they are related to, and possibly derived from, Canadian populations on the north shore of the lake, and are subject to the same threats (Smith 2004, Smith and Green 2004).
Fowler’s Toadis documented in Canada from only 28 sites, including historical records, all of which are in extreme southern Ontario, on sandy or rocky points and sandy beaches along the northern shore of Lake Erie. To date, no verified records have been documented at locations greater than half a kilometre from the Lake Erie shore [OMNR, based on data from the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC)] (Figure 2).
Fowler’s Toadhas not been recorded on the Point Pelee peninsula since 1949 or on Pelee Island since 1960. The species no longer occurs in any localities along western Lake Erie, where it is considered extirpated. Only three populations remain (Figure 3):
- on and near the Rondeau Peninsula, numbering about 400 individuals (Dobbyn 2008),
- on the Long Point peninsula, numbering over 1000 toads (Green and Summerfield 2008) and,
- on the south shore of the Niagara Peninsula, numbering over 3000 individuals (Yagi 2008), where disjunct populations occupy the shoreline from the Grand River to the Niagara River, including Rock Point and James N. Allen Provincial Parks, Morgan’s Point and Wainfleet Long Beach Conservation Areas (owned by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority), and Nickel Beach (owned by the International Nickel Company and leased to the City of Port Colborne).
Five types of habitat are needed by the Fowler’s Toad to complete its life cycle and to continue to persist (Yagi and Tervo 2008):
- hibernation - sand dunes (open to moderately vegetated) and sufficiently deep sand areas where the toads can successfully dig below the frost line to just above the water table and remain over winter (7 to 8 months from mid September to mid May);
- breeding, egg laying, and tadpole development - early successional wetlands, drains and stream mouths that open onto sand beaches, bedrock pools, shallow bays, and ponds within the full range of Lake Erie water levels; such breeding sites need either a sand or bedrock substrate, and must have sparse vegetation;
- feeding and re-hydration habitat - shorelines, including bedrock outcrop areas, dunes, and beaches;
- daytime retreat and aestivation - open to moderately vegetated beaches and dunes with rocks, woody debris, and other objects that provide cover along the shore;
- dispersal corridor - contiguous beach and dune sand shoreline habitat, without barriers such as solid-wall piers or groynes, solid shorewalls or breakwalls, canals, deep or fast-flowing water, or roads. These linkage requirements are similar for all life stages, and are used for:
- active migration from hibernation to breeding sites by adults as well as active movements from day time refugia to shorelines for feeding and re-hydration (adults and juveniles);
- passive dispersal of tadpoles and toadlets, initiated by natural processes, from growth and development sites to shoreline emergence areas;
- active dispersal of toadlets, juveniles, and adults to new sites.
High Mortality and Short Life Span
Fowler’s Toad lives no longer than five years (Kellner and Green 1995) and suffers high levels of mortality at all life stages (Green 2004).
Low Genetic Variability
The Canadian populations of Fowler’s Toad are known to be genetically less variable in comparison to sympatric populations of American Toad and are likely less variable than Fowler’s Toad populations in the United States (Masta et al. 2002). This low genetic variability has unknown consequences.
Habitat Loss and Degradation
Specific threats (Green 2000) include:
- Dune and beach stabilization from the installation of breakwalls which removes access to hibernation sites, interferes with natural maintenance of beaches, and leads to colonization of the dunes by plants.
- Vegetation succession can cause over-vegetation of dunes by both native and non-native plants, which eliminates open sand areas. This has been observed in Fowler’s Toad habitat at Morgan’s Point Conservation Area, Rock Point Provincial Park, and Nickel Beach in Port Colborne. Over-vegetation of dunes may also directly occur due to human activities.
- Dune, beach and nearshore disturbances can remove cover objects, kill toads, and compact beach soils. Such activities include beach grooming, vehicle use, and the removal of dunes for housing developments and for regular road and property maintenance activities. In the Point Pelee area, historic sand dredging operations off of the tip, and shoreline protection measures on either side of the national park resulted in reduced sediment delivery to the shoreline, and may have contributed to the extirpation of the Fowler’s Toad there.
- Loss of breeding sites, which may be caused by climate-related changes in lake levels, drainage of wetlands (such as in the Point Pelee area between the national park and Hillman Marsh Conservation Area), accumulation of shells of the invasive alien Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in rocky pool habitat, and the draining, filling, or isolation of backshore wetlands by roads or infrastructure. Roads and houses can shield breeding sites from storms and allow them to be overgrown with vegetation.
- Elimination of habitat, including breeding sites, by the spread of the European Common Reed (Phragmites australis subsp. australis) and by the invasive aliens Silver Poplar (Populus alba), Crown Vetch (Securigera varia), and Kentucky Blue Grass (Poa pratensis).
- Pier or groyne construction and maintenance, which can change sand drift and deposition processes and prevent natural dispersal of toads.
Lack of Connectivity and Population Rescue Effect
Each of the three remaining populations of Fowler’s Toad is a separate and distinct population (Smith and Green 2004). There is little or no chance of a rescue effect among them or from populations in the United States; the distances between these populations are too great for individuals to traverse and there is no suitable intervening habitat. Steep lakeshore bluffs along much of the Lake Erie coastline in Ontario significantly limit movements and dispersal.
Fowler’s Toad tadpoles and adults are known to be susceptible to chemicals for agriculture and mosquito control (Ferguson and Gilbert 1968, Sanders 1970). These chemicals may have contributed to the loss of Fowler’s Toad from Pelee Island and Point Pelee National Park. Hecnar and Hecnar (2005) report that contaminant threats persist at the national park. Contamination by heavy metals (e.g., from the smelter near Nickel Beach) may constitute a significant threat due to the known sensitivity of Fowler’s Toad to such pollutants (Birge and Black 1977).
Predation is a normal threat which would not affect normal populations, but it could have negative impacts in smaller, disjunct areas. Near human settlements, an artificially increased population of the Raccoon (Procyon lotor), a toad predator, could be a threat, but domestic cats are not a threat due to the toad’s bad taste.
Hybridization with the sympatric American Toad does occur, but this was assessed and determined not to be a threat (Green 1984).
- More information on the magnitude of human impacts on Fowler’s Toad habitat is needed to determine the most severe threats and whether these threats can be mitigated.
- An assessment of the effectiveness of habitat creation projects is lacking.
- Habitat mapping and modeling across the entire Canadian range of this species, including all lake water level and storm regimes, is currently lacking. Mapping would assist in recovery by determining whether suitable but currently unoccupied habitat is present within the province.
- Biological data (survivorship, fecundity, recruitment and hybridization) is lacking for the Niagara and Rondeau populations. Most of the existing biological data comes from the Long Point population and may not accurately reflect other populations.
- Predator-prey dynamics, including those involving the Raccoon near human settlements, are not well understood.
- The impact of low genetic variability in the Canadian Fowler’s Toad population is unknown.
- The impact of the heavy metal contamination at Nickel Beach is unknown.
- Information is needed to determine the feasibility of translocation projects, including on the availability of genetically similar individuals from elsewhere throughout the species’ range.
The Fowler’s Toad Recovery Strategy Development Team was first formed in January 2003 and meets annually to discuss recovery projects. Population data collection began in 1986 at Long Point, in 2001 at Niagara, and in 2004 at Rondeau. The data are collected in a standardized way (Green and Summerfield 2008) for input into a population viability analysis (PVA) model to assist in assessing an overall measure of recovery action success (COSEWIC 2010).
Habitat mapping has been initiated using criteria established by the recovery team. An element occurrence database for Aylmer and Niagara areas has been created and sent to each OMNR administrative district for submission to NHIC. This database should help determine habitat similarities and differences across the range. A geographic information system (GIS) application of this information will help resource managers make appropriate land use decisions along the shoreline.
At Point Pelee National Park a thorough repatriation study was completed for Parks Canada Agency; the current assessment for reintroduction of Fowler’s Toad is negative (Hecnar and Hecnar 2005). Habitat management tests are underway at Morgan’s Point Conservation Area, Wainfleet Long Beach Conservation Area, James N. Allen Provincial Park, Nickel Beach, and Rock Point Provincial Park (D. M. Green, M. A. Smith, A. R. Yagi, pers. obs. 2010). These tests include:
- erecting snow fence to capture wind-blown sand and create dunes for hibernation habitat,
- creating breeding sites by digging ponds,
- removing exotic species (Silver Poplar, Crown Vetch, Kentucky Blue Grass, European Common Reed) to release successional dunes and to improve dune quality,
- ending the removal and landfilling of groomed sand from beaches,
- piling sand at the west end of beaches in order that wind and storms can move the sand naturally and replenish beaches and dunes downwind.
The termination of beach grooming to remove algae has increased toadlet abundance by the provision of additional escape cover in algae mats. Juvenile toad numbers in fringe areas increased after dune and beach quality improvement projects (A. R. Yagi, pers. obs. 2010).
Radio-tracking at Morgan’s Point (Yagi and Mills 2003) and at Long Point (Green 2008) has confirmed that toads require beaches for evening activity and sparsely vegetated dunes for day-time retreats and long-term dormancy. A management plan with recommendations was produced for Nickel Beach (Limnoterra 2006). Habitat mapping and testing of habitat mapping guidelines has been done at Nickel Beach and Morgan’s Point Conservation Area (Yagi and Tervo 2008).
Outreach, education and habitat enhancement project publications produced by the recovery team include an identification compact disc, post cards, stickers, posters, pamphlets, a stewardship guide, a landowner contact brochure, a workshop presentation for adults and children, and other educational material. Several articles were written for Rock Point, Long Point, and Rondeau Provincial Parks, focusing on beach and dune communities and three species that inhabit them, including Fowler’s Toad. These items were printed in park magazines and newsletters, and are offered to the public during the summer season. They are available from the Niagara Area Office of OMNR in Vineland Station and may be accessed online from Land Care Niagara.
Maintain the three extant populations of Fowler’s Toad in Ontario, in the Rondeau area, on the Long Point peninsula, and along the Niagara Peninsula, and re-establish self-sustaining populations in other suitable areas, where feasible.
Under the ESA, a recovery strategy must include a recommendation to the Minister of Natural Resources on the area that should be considered in developing a habitat regulation. A habitat regulation is a legal instrument that prescribes an area that will be protected as the habitat of the species. The recommendation provided below by the recovery team will be one of many sources considered by the Minister when developing the habitat regulation for this species.
The map in Figure 2 shows the extent of Lake Erie shoreline within which Fowler’s Toad may occur, either currently or historically. Within the three areas of current Ontario occurrence, and within 0.5 km of the Lake Erie shoreline,
- all sand beaches,
- all sand dunes,
- all sandy-bottomed ponds and marshes, rocky shoals, and seasonal pools, and
- all shorelines associated with or linking these features,
should be prescribed as habitat in a habitat regulation.
Monitoring of all areas of historic Fowler’s Toad occurrence is recommended as a recovery approach in this strategy. Re-establishing Fowler’s Toad is also recommended. If at any time individuals of the species re-appear or are re-introduced, the four habitats (described above) in that area should be prescribed in the habitat regulation.
Areas within 500 m of the Lake Erie shoreline where Fowler’s Toad currently occurs, but which lack suitable habitat or which have had their habitat permanently altered, should not be considered Fowler’s Toad habitat. Such areas include:
Aestivation: A behavioral strategy of inactivity used by reptiles and amphibians to escape extreme summer temperatures or dry conditions.
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): The committee responsible for assessing and classifying species at risk in Canada.
Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO): The committee established under section 3 of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 that is responsible for assessing and classifying species at risk in Ontario.
Conservation status rank: A rank assigned to a species or ecological community that primarily conveys the degree of rarity of the species or community at the global (G), national (N) or subnational (S) level. These ranks, termed G-rank, N-rank and S-rank, are not legal designations. The conservation status of a species or ecosystem is designated by a number from 1 to 5, preceded by the letter G, N or S reflecting the appropriate geographic scale of the assessment. The numbers mean the following:
1 = critically imperilled
2 = imperilled
3 = vulnerable
4 = apparently secure
5 = secure
Detritivore: One that feeds on detritus (organic particles).
Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA): The provincial legislation that provides protection to species at risk in Ontario.
Extirpated: Eliminated from a portion of its range.
Fecundity: Fertility or the capacity to produce young.
Groyne: A structure built out from shore to protect the shore from erosion, to trap sand, or to direct a current
Oligotrophic: Low in nutrient levels.
Refugia: Plural of refugium – a place of sheltered habitat.
Re-hydration: To take up water in order to restore fluid balance.
Species at Risk Act (SARA): The federal legislation that provides protection to species at risk in Canada. This act establishes Schedule 1 as the legal list of wildlife species at risk to which the SARA provisions apply. Schedules 2 and 3 contain lists of species that at the time the Act came into force needed to be reassessed. After species on Schedule 2 and 3 are reassessed and found to be at risk, they undergo the SARA listing process to be included in Schedule 1.
Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List: The regulation made under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 that provides the official status classification of species at risk in Ontario. This list was first published in 2004 as a policy and became a regulation in 2008.
Sympatric: Occurring in the same area.
Toadlet: A toad that has recently transformed from the tadpole stage, i.e., young of the year, and is thus still very small.
Birge, W.J., and Black, J.A. 1977. Embryopathic Effects of Waterborne and Sediment-Accumulated Cadmium, Mercury and Zinc on Reproduction and Survival of Fish and Amphibian Populations in Kentucky. Research Report No. 100. National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA.
Brown, L.E., and M.J. Littlejohn. 1972. Male release call in the Bufo americanus group. Pages 310-323 in W. F. Blair, editor. Evolution in the Genus Bufo. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
Bush, F. M., and E. F. Melnick. 1962. The food of Bufo woodhousei fowleri. Herpetologica 18:110-114.
Conant, R., and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians. Eastern/Central North America. 3rd Ed. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.
COSEWIC. 2010. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Fowler’s Toad Anaxyrus fowleri in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 58 pp. (www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm).
Dobbyn, S. 2008. Rondeau Provincial Park Fowlers Toad Mark/Recapture Study
2004-2008. Draft report, Ontario Parks, Morpeth, Ontario.
Ferguson, D. E., and C. C. Gilbert. 1968. Tolerances of three species of anuran amphibians to five chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides. Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences 13:135-138.
Green, D.M. 1984. Sympatric hybridization and allozyme variation in the toads Bufo americanus and B. fowleri in southern Ontario. Copeia 1984:18-26.
Green, D. M. 2000. Status report update on Fowler’s toad; Bufo fowleri, in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa Ontario.
Green, D.M. 2004. Bufo fowleri (Fowler’s toad) in M. J. Lannoo, editor. In Declining Amphibians: a United States' Response to the Global Phenomenon. University of California Press, Berkeley, California.
Green, D.M. 2008. Movements and Habitat Use by Fowler’s Toads, Bufo (Anaxyrus) fowleri, at Hahn Beach, Big Creek NWA, Long Point, Ontario. Report to Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada.
Green, D.M., and A. Summerfield. 2008. Population ecology of Fowler’s Toad (Bufo
fowleri) at Long Point, Ontario. Field Report for 2008. Ontario Ministry of Natural
Resources and Canadian Wildlife Service.
Hecnar, Stephen J. and Darlene R. Hecnar. 2005. Feasibility of Repatriation of Extirpated Herpetofauna to Point Pelee National Park. Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON. Prepared for Parks Canada Agency, Point Pelee National Park, Leamington, ON.
Judd, W. W. 1957. Fowler’s toads on the Lake Erie shore. Bulletin of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists 78:13-15.
Kellner, A., and D.M. Green. 1995. Age structure and age at maturity in Fowler’s toads, Bufo woodhousii fowerli, at their northern range limit. Journal of Herpetology 29:485-489.
Limnoterra Limited. 2006. Draft Nickel Beach, Port Colborne, Fowler’s Toad (Bufo fowleri) Data Analysis and Management Implications. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Report.
Masta, S.E., B.K. Sullivan, T. Lamb, and E.J. Routman. 2002. Molecular systematics, hybridization, and phylogeography of the Bufo americanus complex in Eastern North America. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 24:302-314.
Oldham, M.J. and W.F. Weller. 2000. Ontario Herpetofaunal Atlas. Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. (Updated 15-01-2010).
Sanders, H. D. 1970. Pesticide toxicities to tadpoles of the western chorus frog, Pseudacris triseriata, and Fowler’s toad, Bufo woodhousei fowleri. Copeia 1970:246-251.
Smith, M.A. 2004. Spatial ecology of Bufo fowleri. PhD. Thesis. Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal.
Smith, M.A. and D.M. Green. 2004. Phylogeography of Bufo fowleri at its northern range limit. Molecular Ecology 13:3723-3733.
Smith, M.A, and D.M. Green. 2006. Sex, isolation and fidelity: unbiased long distance dispersal in a terrestrial amphibian. Ecography 29:649-658.
Wright, A. H., and A. A. Wright. 1949. Handbook of Frogs and Toads, 3rd edition. Comstock, Ithaca, New York.
Yagi A.R. 2008. Fowler’s Toad (Bufo fowleri) distribution and abundance in the Niagara Population Region 2001 to 2006. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Yagi, A. and D. Mills. 2003. Interim Report: Fowler’s Toad (Bufo fowleri) Abundance and Habitat Use at Morgan’s Point Conservation Area with Habitat Enhancement Recommendations, Summer 2003. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Report.
Yagi A.R and R. Tervo. 2008. Species at Risk Habitat Mapping for the Fowler’s Toad
(Bufo fowleri) - a Test of Draft Habitat Mapping Guidelines. Ontario Ministry of NaturalResources.
Zweifel, R.G. 1968. Effects of temperature, body size and hybridization on mating call of toads, Bufo a. americanus and Bufo woodhousei fowleri. Copeia 1968:269-285.
|Name||Affiliation and Location|
|Anne Yagi (Chair)||Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Niagara|
|Sandy Dobbyn (Co-Chair)||Ontario Parks, London|
|David M.Green||Redpath Museum, McGill University, Montreal|
|M. Alex Smith||University of Guelph|
|Amy Brant||Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Niagara|
|Tim Seburn||Bert Miller Nature Club, Fort Erie|
|Jeff Robinson||Canadian Wildlife Service, London|
|Michael Oldham||Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough|
|James Duncan||Nature Conservancy of Canada|
|Kim Frohlich||Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority|
|Ron Gould||Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Aylmer|
|Bob Johnson||Toronto Zoo|
|Jason Mask||Ontario Parks, Long Point Provincial Park|
|Vicki McKay||Parks Canada Agency|
|Mark Custers||Ontario Parks, Turkey Point Provincial Park|
|Mike Potsma||Ontario Parks, Rock Point Provincial Park|
PART 3 – Fowler’s Toad Ontario Government Response Statement, prepared by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Ministry of Natural Resources
Natural, Valued, Protected
Protecting and Recovering Species at Risk In Ontario
Species at risk recovery is a key part of protecting Ontario’s biodiversity. Biodiversity – the variety of living organisms on Earth – provides us with clean air and water, food, fibre, medicine and other resources that we need to survive.
The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) is the Government of Ontario’s legislative
commitment to protecting and recovering species at risk and their habitats. As soon as a species is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened under the ESA, it is automatically protected from harm or harassment. Also, immediately upon listing, the habitats of endangered and threatened species are protected from damage or destruction.
Under the ESA, the Ministry of Natural Resources (the Ministry) must ensure that a recovery strategy is prepared for each species that is listed as endangered or threatened. A recovery strategy provides science-based advice to government on what is required to achieve recovery of a species.
Government Response Statements
Within nine months after a recovery strategy is prepared, the ESA requires the Ministry to publish a statement summarizing the government’s intended actions and priorities in response to the recovery strategy. The recovery strategy for the Fowler’s Toad was completed on February 18, 2011 [Ministry of Natural Resources Species at Risk – Fowler's Toad].
The response statement is the government’s policy response to the scientific advice provided in the recovery strategy. In addition to the strategy, input on the response statement was requested from stakeholders, other jurisdictions, Aboriginal communities and members of the public. The statement reflects the best available traditional, local and scientific knowledge at this time and may be adapted if new information becomes available. In implementing the actions in the response statement, the ESA allows the Ministry to determine what is feasible, taking into account social and economic factors.
Moving Forward to Protect and Recover Fowler’s Toad
The Fowler’s Toad is listed as an endangered species under the ESA, which protects both the animal and its habitat. The ESA prohibits harm or harassment of the species and damage or destruction of its habitat without authorization. Such authorization would require that conditions established by the Ministry be met.
Fowler’s Toad is found on sandy or rocky points, sand dunes, and beaches along Lake Erie, where it breeds in sandy-bottomed ponds or rocky pools in early successional habitats. Most threats to the species in Ontario are related to intensive human use of the Lake Erie shoreline which interrupt the natural processes of erosion and deposition necessary to maintain habitat features for Fowler’s Toad. These include industrial, commercial, housing, road, and recreational activities.
The government’s goal for the recovery of the Fowler’s Toad is to maintain
populations at existing locations in Ontario, and to investigate the feasibility of re-introducing populations in other suitable areas.
Protecting and recovering species at risk is a shared responsibility. No single agency or organization has the knowledge, authority or financial resources to protect and recover all of Ontario’s species at risk. Successful recovery requires inter-governmental co-operation and the involvement of many individuals, organizations and communities.
In developing the government response statement, the Ministry considered what actions are feasible for the government to lead directly and what actions are feasible for the government to support its conservation partners to undertake.
To help protect and recover the Fowler’s Toad, the government will directly undertake the following actions:
- Develop a survey protocol to be used by proponents and partners to detect the presence or absence of Fowler’s Toad.
- Educate other agencies and authorities involved in planning and environmental assessment processes on the protection requirements under the ESA.
- Encourage the submission of Fowler’s Toad observation data to the Ministry’s central repository at the Natural Heritage Information Centre or the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas.
- Undertake communications and outreach to increase public awareness of species at risk in Ontario.
- Protect the Fowler’s Toad and its habitat through the ESA. Develop and enforce a regulation identifying the specific habitat of the species.
- Support conservation, agency, municipal and industry partners to undertake activities to protect and recover the Fowler’s Toad. Support will be provided through funding, agreements, permits (including conditions) and advisory services.
- Establish and communicate annual priority actions for government support across multiple species in order to encourage collaboration and reduce duplication of efforts.
The government endorses the following actions as being necessary for the protection and recovery of the Fowler’s Toad. Actions identified as “high” will be given priority consideration for funding or for authorizations under the ESA. The government will focus its support on these high-priority actions over the next five years.
Focus Area: Protection and Management
Objective: Protect existing Fowler’s Toad populations and habitat, reduce or mitigate human impacts to them and improve habitat areas.
1. (HIGH) Develop and implement best management practices based on an evaluation of current habitat restoration approaches. Practices may include:
- habitat improvement (e.g. removal of invasive species such as European Common Reed and Zebra Mussels from breeding sites and dunes), and
- beach management (e.g. actions related to barriers and beach grooming).
2. Deliver effective communications and outreach to key stakeholders and landowners within the existing range of Fowler’s Toad to increase awareness of the species’ distribution and threats, and to foster good stewardship.
3. As opportunities arise, support the securement of lands that contain Fowler’s Toad populations through existing land securement and stewardship programs.
Focus Area: Research and Monitoring
Objective: Improve knowledge of Fowler’s Toad biology, habitat and threats and
potential approaches to mitigate these impacts.
3. (HIGH) Develop and implement a standard monitoring program to track changes in species distribution and abundance.
5. Undertake population viability assessment (PVA): determine data needs and use of PVA, conduct research required for the PVA, and carry out the assessment once the information is available.
6. Conduct research to better understand Fowler’s Toad demographics, natural limiting factors, habitat use and dynamics, and the impact of human activities such as pollution discharge or construction of shoreline structures on the species and habitat.
7. Determine the feasibility of reintroducing Fowler’s Toad into suitable
Financial support for the implementation of actions may be available through the Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program or Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program. Conservation partners are encouraged to discuss project proposals related to the actions in this response statement with the Ministry. The Ministry can also advise if any authorizations under the ESA or other legislation may be required to undertake the project.
Implementation of the actions may be subject to changing priorities across the multitude of species at risk, available resources and the capacity of partners to undertake recovery activities. Where appropriate, the implementation of actions for multiple species will be co-ordinated across government response statements.
The ESA requires the Ministry to conduct a review of progress towards protecting and recovering a species not later than five years from the publication of this response statement. The review will help identify if adjustments are needed to achieve the protection and recovery of the Fowler’s Toad.
We would like to thank all those who participated in the development of the “Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad in Ontario” for their dedication to protecting and recovering species at risk.
For additional information:
Visit the species at risk website at
- Date Modified: