Rainbow out in the RFO

June went by fast out here in Wyoming. My co-intern finally arrived this month and I think we will be a good team this summer. We started the month off on night call surveys and finally heard Spadefoots calling! It was a really exciting moment and we were able to get within a couple meters of the calling toads. We also found clusters of egg masses in the same vicinity. Knowing definitively that the Great Basin Spadefoots are in this area could allow us to increase protections in the area for this BLM sensitive species. I’ve attached a video of them calling below!

Great Basin Spadefoot egg masses

The second week in June I was in Chicago for a week long training with the Chicago Botanic Garden. I was most interested in the plant taxonomy that we learned as it is an area that I do not have a lot of experience with, being predominately wildlife. I learned a lot and meet a ton of new and interesting people, including our hosts, who I hope to stay in touch with into the future. The Chicago Botanic Gardens are an absolutely beautiful place and I recommend visiting them if you ever get the chance. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to see some herps in the gardens, catching a fowlers toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) during one of our exercises and finding a spiny softshell turtle laying her eggs (Apalone spinifera).

Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera)

Chicago Botanic Garden

When we got back from the gardens we returned to doing night call surveys but unfortunately didn’t find anything. The good news from the week was that the funding for our trapping project finally came through so we will be able to start making progress on that soon! This last week we were able to help the Wyoming Game and Fish Department with their breeding surveys for the Wyoming Toad (Anaxyrus baxteri). The Wyoming toad is considered extinct in the wild and is found only within the Laramie Basin. There are multiple zoos with programs dedicated to the survival and propagation of the species. No single reason has been determined for the rapid decline in the species population but likely culprits are chytrid fungus,┬ápesticide usage, or habitat alterations. For the breeding surveys we were looking mainly for egg masses and tadpoles and they will have surveys for adults later in the season. We were able to find both captive breed and wild tadpoles and a few adults during our surveys. It was really exciting to find the wild tadpoles as it is a great sign for the population. June was a good month and I look forward to what July has in store.

Wyoming Toad (Anaxyrus Baxteri)

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