SPADEFOOT TOADS- Searching

We’re in the Sonoran desert of the southwest United States where scientists study the mating behavior and development of spadefoot toads. But in order to study the toads, you’ve got to find them first. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Tony Frankino is with the Biology Department at Indiana University. He spends part of his summer in Arizona where he drives for hours through desert rainstorms, looking for toads.

“Here we go. This is a real rain. This could be a great night. It can rain for an hour; the toads will be out a half an hour after that. They’ll have plenty of time to breed. We can collect.”

Well, despite the early optimism, on this night toads are few and far between. But it’s not a wasted effort: In a pond near the side of the highway, one of the season’s last unpaired toads tries to attract a female with his song.

ambience: Toad

“See that? That’s his vocal sac – that little spot right there on his throat. It’s shaped like a kidney or a jelly bean, sticks up about, you know, couple inches above his head. And it’s pretty distinctly colored. Some people have said that maybe it’s a visual signal, as well as an auditory one. They’re really beautiful animals. They have a dark green spot and they are covered with little brown or tan warts. See the way he’s grabbing my fingers there? That’s the way he holds on to the female. Exactly like that.”

As mating season draws to a close, the toads will begin to burrow into the ground where they’ll spend the next ten months in a state of suspended animation.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

SPADEFOOT TOADS- Searching

A scientist searching for toads finds one lonely male searching for a mate.
Air Date:08/02/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

We're in the Sonoran desert of the southwest United States where scientists study the mating behavior and development of spadefoot toads. But in order to study the toads, you've got to find them first. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Tony Frankino is with the Biology Department at Indiana University. He spends part of his summer in Arizona where he drives for hours through desert rainstorms, looking for toads.

"Here we go. This is a real rain. This could be a great night. It can rain for an hour; the toads will be out a half an hour after that. They'll have plenty of time to breed. We can collect."

Well, despite the early optimism, on this night toads are few and far between. But it's not a wasted effort: In a pond near the side of the highway, one of the season's last unpaired toads tries to attract a female with his song.

ambience: Toad

"See that? That's his vocal sac - that little spot right there on his throat. It's shaped like a kidney or a jelly bean, sticks up about, you know, couple inches above his head. And it's pretty distinctly colored. Some people have said that maybe it's a visual signal, as well as an auditory one. They're really beautiful animals. They have a dark green spot and they are covered with little brown or tan warts. See the way he's grabbing my fingers there? That's the way he holds on to the female. Exactly like that."

As mating season draws to a close, the toads will begin to burrow into the ground where they'll spend the next ten months in a state of suspended animation.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.