Archive for October 12th, 2011

Houston Toads: Surviving the Wildfires

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Hundreds of homes were destroyed, and thousands of acres of habitat were significantly altered last month when catastrophic wildfires raged through Bastrop County, including Bastrop State Park—a stronghold of the endangered Houston Toad. Biologists are just beginning to quantify impacts on habitat from the blaze.

13—The fire will have taken most of the arthropods on the surface. In some areas it will have been ground sterilizing, removing the duff and the other community layers that the foodstuffs for juvenile toads and adults rely on.

Professor Mike Forstner, from Texas State University, studies the toads, and focuses on ecological restoration, habitat recovery, surveys, and genetics research.

The toad’s habitat is significantly changed. How much so? Researchers may not know the full impact for months. Meantime, Forstner says a break in the drought could benefit the toad and its home, and yet with rain a new problem may arise.

10—Those same beneficial rains will result in runoff of the mud, ash and silt into the breeding ponds that will negatively impact breeding success next spring.

The toads are down, but don’t count them out just yet. There’s a plan, and we tell you about it tomorrow.

Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.