Species in the Spotlight: Yosemite Toad

Yosemite Toad

Anaxyrus canorus

a male and female Yosemite toad mate in shallow water with eggs below
Male Yosemite toad clasping the back of a female toad during mating (known as amplexus).

NPS / Spencer Williams

Five Fun Facts!

  1. The Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus) is endemic to (native and restricted to) the Sierra Nevada where Yosemite National Park makes up over 1/3 of their entire range!
  2. Males and females of this species look very different, but equally beautiful.
  3. In Yosemite the toads can be found up to 12,000 ft in elevation.
  4. Yosemite toads depend on spring snowmelt to reproduce.
  5. Male Yosemite toads will fight and defend their territory!

See the difference?

a female toad with dark splotchy skin pattern a female toad with dark splotchy skin pattern

Left image
Females and young have many dark blotches on a light background.
Credit: NPS Photo / Spencer Williams

Right image
Males are pale yellowish green or olive above, with few or no dark blotches.
Credit: NPS Photo / Spencer Williams

a black splotched female Yosemite toad sits in front of a burrow
A female Yosemite toad sitting in front of a burrow.

NPS / Spencer Williams

What’s their status?

In 2014, the toad was listed as a Federally Threatened Species due to their widespread population declines (~50%). Yosemite National Park has been monitoring the toad populations across the park since 2009. Monitoring species gives insight on population trends and status so resource managers can recommend up-to-date conservation management actions to protect the toads.

Why should you care?

  • Biodiversity - The protection of all native species is vital to a balanced ecosystem.
  • Federally Threatened Species - The Yosemite toad is at risk to disappear forever.
  • Food Web Dynamics - Yosemite toads play an important role in the food web.
a grid of four images. The first two show dead toads with the label "disease" the second two show a dried up tadpole and a burned area with the label "climate change"
Disease and climate change are some of the threats Yosemite toads face.

NPS Photos / Spencer Williams & Rob Grasso

Why are they declining?

Cumulative stress from many complex environmental factors, has caused population declines of up to fifty percent in the Yosemite Toad. Tadpoles often dry up before they can complete metamorphosis (develop into toads) due to drought caused by climate change, severe wildfires, lack of winter snowpack, and hotter dryer summers. Disease (chytrid fungus) and pollution also play a role in the decline of Yosemite toads.

a close up image of a yosemite toad's face with dark blotch on light background skin coloration

NPS Photo / Spencer Williams

What Can You Do to Help?

  • While in Yosemite, watch your step! Toads are notorious for hanging out on trails.
  • Don’t touch a Yosemite toad if you find one! Not only is it illegal to handle Federally listed species, but harmful chemicals from your skin could be transferred to the skin of the toads. Even everyday chemicals like sunscreen are deadly to amphibians.
  • Stay out of sensitive areas, closed areas, roped off areas. These areas are “off-limits” for a reason, often for the protection of sensitive species.
  • Educate others!
  • If you see a Yosemite toad, report your observation to the Aquatic Wildlife Program in Yosemite National Park. (209-379-1437)

Yosemite National Park

Last updated: April 26, 2023