Great Plains Toad

Anaxyrus cognatus

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ALL ABOUT ME

My name is Tammy the Toad. I am a female, I am 3 years old, I am approximately 7 centimeters long in length, and I am greenish brown. I sleep most of the day, and come out at night to eat. My favorite meals are ants, beetles, termites, and worms. I like to think I help the environment because I eat a lot of insects, so I help control the population of insects. I also am a really good singer. My songs constant of loud, rapid, piercing noises that last usually 30 seconds. I can live along the Missouri River floodplain, where I hide away in burrows in the mud. But I am also found in prairies or by ponds. My habitat is the prairie by Liberty North High School.


"Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus Cognatus) - Amphibians of Arizona." Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus Cognatus) - Amphibians of Arizona. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

INTERACTIONS, NUTRITION, AND COMPETITION

We are predators that help keep ants and other insects in balance. I am known to be important to agriculture because I eat cutworms and many other annoying insects that feed damage crops. Me and my babies become food for aquatic and terrestrial predators, like water bugs, snakes, fish, or raccoons. We play an important role in the food web. We are an important food source for birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, and other amphibians. Without us, they could starve! We compete for food with other toads, frogs, snakes, lizards, and some rodents. If they take all the food available in our habitat, I could die.


"Great Plains Toad." Missouri's Fish, Forests and Wildlife. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

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FACTORS THAT IMPACT MY LIFE

Negative factors:

  • Floods or too much rain
  • Droughts
  • Farming
  • Urbanization
  • Traffic (road kill)


Most of the factors above are because of humans. Humans play a huge role in destruction of habitats, urbanization, and farming. "An estimated 50 percent of the world's original wetlands have been lost, and 54 percent of wetlands in the United States" ("Toads"). We are losing wetlands because of construction and urbanization.


What I need in my habitat:

  • Water to lay my eggs in
  • Soil/mud/dirt to burrow in
  • Damp but humid sections to live in
  • Thick grass
  • Rocks to hide under


Thick grass, rocks, and burrowing dirt are very important to me because I hide away for majority of the day. I need the loose soil especially during the winter so I can burrow down beneath the winter frost line. As I stated earlier, I need a body of water to lay my eggs in.


"Toads." - New World Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.


Krupa, James J. "Management Plan for the Great Plains Toad." Copeia1988.3 (1988): 800. 2013. Web. 3 May 2016.

MY BODY

For one, I have bilateral symmetry. This means that if you were to cut me directly down the middle, the left and right sides of me would mirror each other. I have short front legs and long back legs (for leaping), and I have webbed feet. Just like most animals, I have a stomach and intestines to break down food, a brain and nervous system, and two eyes. I do however have a third protective eyelid for when I'm on land. I am cold-blooded, and when in the water I take in oxygen through my skin. The oxygen goes directly through my bloodstream! On land, I use my lungs just like most animals. I reproduce sexually, but my eggs are fertilized outside of my body. I lay the eggs then my mate comes and fertilizes them. My skin is very thin and moist.



"AMPHIBIANS." AMPHIBIANS. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

REPRODUCTION

I only go in the water during breeding season. Breeding season is usually from May to July. I can breed in rain pools, flooded areas, and ponds. Males use certain calls during breeding season and once a female is within his reach, he grabs them and does not let go. Us females can lay up to 20,000 eggs and we plant the eggs in shallow clear water. (I would NEVER lay my eggs in muddy water.) After a couple days, the eggs hatch and tadpoles are free. Metamorphosis usually happens after a month, and the whole process takes less than two weeks to complete. The breeding pools, however, do not usually hold water long enough for our larvae to complete metamorphosis. These babies will be sexually mature within the next 2-5 years after it was born.



"Great Plains Toad - Anaxyrus Cognatus - Details - Encyclopedia of Life."Encyclopedia of Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.


"Anaxyrus Cognatus (Great Plains Toad)." Animal Diversity Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

METABOLISM

As an amphibian, my metabolism rate is slow and I greatly depend on external energy sources. My metabolism rate is so low because I spend majority of my day at rest, which also causes a low energy budget. I rely on the sun for warmth and body temperature regulation. Both of those factors makes us very different from mammals. Mammals have a high metabolism rate because they are endotherms.

"Cold-blooded Reptiles and Amphibians - National Zoo| FONZ." Cold-blooded Reptiles and Amphibians - National Zoo| FONZ. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

EVOLUTIONARY ADAPTATIONS

• Toads living in dry environments result in a brown skin for camouflage, which is also dry and leathery for better water absorption.

• Over time, toads hind legs became longer. This aids them on leaping distances on land, but also swimming in water.

• Great Plain Toads developed the skill to burrow, which helps them a bunch in the winter.

• This toad is nocturnal, which helps tremendously because they are cold-blooded (AKA cannot keep moisture inside its body) and humidity is highest at night time (which is when they are most active).

• Male toad's mating call has extended in time. The longer the call, the more attracted the female will become.


"AMPHIBIANS." AMPHIBIANS. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

FUN FACTS

"Great Plains Toad." (Anaxyrus Cognatus). N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.