Naturespeak 

Toads between your toes?

By Wendy Hhoran

It’s August and summer is beginning to wind down for many people. However, for other creatures, things are just getting started. August is the month when the Lost Lake population of Western Toad begins its annual migration from the water up into the forest. It’s quite a thing to witness, just be careful where you step.

If you’re in Lost Lake Park over the couple of weeks, tread or ride lightly. Western Toad juveniles (or metamorphs) will be everywhere. These guys like to migrate in large groups, sometimes numbering in the thousands and they will literally carpet the ground as they move. At this stage, freshly emerged from tadpole phase, the toads are tiny, usually no bigger than a quarter, and therefore often difficult to see until it is too late. However, in their congregations it will appear as though the ground is moving. Remember the saying "there’s safety in numbers"? The Western Toad has this nailed down. By moving across the landscape in large masses more survive into adulthood.

Yet, despite their abilities to thwart death by sticking together, the Western Toad is believed to be declining across its former range. The United States has already recognized this trend and is making efforts through legislation to reverse the trend. Here in Canada, protected status is coming more slowly.

We are making an effort to better understand the Western Toad at Lost Lake. The Community Foundation of Whistler, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and AWARE are backing a one year long research project that aims to learn more about the population at the location. The hope is to identify migration trends so that efforts can be made in the future to help metamorphs migrate with greater ease.

Wendy Horan is a Graduate student with Royal Roads University who is studying the Western Toad at Lost Lake. She thanks you for not stepping on them. For more information contact wendy.horan@Community.RoyalRoads.ca

Upcoming Events

Learn about the amphibians in your area. Come to Lost Lake and learn about toads, frogs, and salamanders in Whistler. This is a free, all-ages event presented by AWARE and the Whistler Naturalists. For more details call 604-932-8900.

WHEN: Monday, Aug. 28, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Lost Lake warming hut.

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