Surveys from February - July of this year, conducted in partnership with USGS and led by IRC volunteers and staff, showed that the installation of pond liners and applications of clay had successfully rendered the ponds capable of retaining water long enough for spadefoot toad breeding and metamorphosis to occur. This past winter’s heavy rains certainly helped, providing plenty of water to naturally fill the ponds long enough for the tadpoles to fully mature. One pond even retained water until July still with evidence of active spadefoot toad activity, while the rest of the ponds had dried up.
Meanwhile, the IRC restoration crew is working to convert over three acres of non-native weeds surrounding the ponds into intact coastal sage scrub habitat. This will improve the ability of spadefoot toads to move between the ponds and the surrounding hillsides where they spend the summer and fall.
At the moment, the spadefoot toads are aestivating underground in and around the restoration site. As we enter the cooler months, the team anticipates seeing the toads reappear in and around the ponds and start breeding when the heavy winter rains arrive again. Our volunteers will be ready, enthusiastically recording the varying conditions of the pools and their impact on the spadefoot toad populations. Hopefully, we count even more toads next year!
For more information about the restoration efforts on the Landmarks, visit IRConservancy.org, LetsGoOutside.org or follow the Landmarks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.