Joshua Tree National Park Amphibians

Frogs are probably the last thing that people expect to see when they visit the desert. However, some frogs and toads have adapted to life in arid lands. True, they still need water, but they seek it out when it is available.

Amphibians are animals that have two life stages: a larval, aquatic form and an adult, terrestrial form. This is the difference between a tadpole and a toad. In Joshua Tree, we have two important amphibians. The California tree frog is found only in southern California and is listed as a Species of Special Concern. It is found in the rocky, permanent water sources created by the Pinto Fault along the northern edge of the park. This species reaches the eastern edge of its range here. The red-spotted toad is a true denizen of the desert, where it spends most of its life underground. Found from one end of the park to the other, it appears after good, soaking rains. This toad lays its eggs in potholes, springs, and the intermittent streams found in rocky canyons after heavy rains. Breeding and toad choruses occur in spring following winter rains or after the monsoon storms of summer. Male tree frogs and toads do the vocalizing. Gelatin-covered eggs are laid by the females at the bottom of a pool and hatch in a few days. Then, in the case of toads, it is a race to finish the tadpole stage before the pool dries up.

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Two deserts, two large ecosystems whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation, come together at Joshua Tree National Park. The Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush...
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