Arizona's Amphibian Diversity
It might be surprising to many that in a state known for its arid environments that among the animals comprising Arizona’s rich biodiversity are 25 species of native amphibians, including 24 frog species (i.e., both frogs and toads) and only one species of salamander (the tiger salamander). Indeed, several of these amphibians are only found in some of the most arid parts of the deserts that make up much of Arizona. What might not be surprising is that the aquatic habitats that support many of Arizona’s amphibians have been diverted or destroyed because of the high demand for water in the state. Many of our amphibians have suffered serious population declines and some, such as the Chiricahua leopard frog and Sonoran tiger salamander, are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
In addition to the 25 species of native amphibians, Arizona has become home to four types of exotic amphibians: bullfrogs, Rio Grande leopard frogs, African clawed frogs and barred tiger salamanders. Bullfrogs have become so numerous and widespread that they are now seriously threatening native aquatic wildlife populations, particularly amphibians and reptiles.
Many of Arizona’s native frogs, particularly the five species of leopard frogs and the Tarahumara frog, might be considered “typical” stream-dwelling frogs; never being found too far from permanent water where they lay eggs, develop as tadpoles, and live as adult frogs. But, some of the most astonishing adaptations to desert life are exhibited by a number of frogs and toads that live much of their lives buried underground, only to emerge briefly to breed and grow during the summer rains. This group includes “typical” toads like the Sonoran green toad, Couch’s spadefoot, the tiny narrow-mouthed toad, and even a “true” treefrog, the lowland burrowing treefrog. Perhaps one of the most unusual frogs in Arizona is the barking frog, which is found in rocky outcrops where it lays its eggs in relatively dry crevices, and the young develop entirely within the egg and skip the tadpole stage. Thus, despite the relatively few species overall, Arizona can claim to have a richly diverse amphibian fauna.
Amphibian abstracts contain the following information
- Population Trends
- Management Status (as available)
Note: Distribution maps are based on occurrences in the HDMS database and are not meant to be complete or predicted range maps. Each species has specific criteria that must be met before being entered into the database. Therefore, the resulting maps reflect only the occurrences that meet the species specific criteria.
Nongame Amphibian Species
- Ambystoma tigrinum stebbinsi, Sonoran Tiger Salamander
- Bufo debilis insidior, Western Green Toad
- Bufo microscaphus microscaphus, Arizona Toad
- Bufo retiformis, Sonoran Green Toad
Bufo woodhousii woodhousii, Woodhouse's Toad
- Eleutherodactylus augusti cactorum, Western Barking Frog
- Gastrophryne olivacea, Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toad
- Hyla arenicolor, Canyon Treefrog
- Hyla wrightorum, Mountain Treefrog
Pseudacris regilla, Pacific Treefrog
- Pseudacris triseriata, Western Chorus Frog
- Pternohyla fodiens, Lowland Burrowing Treefrog
- Rana blairi, Plains Leopard Frog
- Rana chiricahuensis, Chiricahua Leopard Frog
Rana onca, Relict Leopard Frog
- Rana pipiens, Northern Leopard Frog
- Rana subaquavocalis, Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog
- Rana tarahumarae, Tarahumara Frog
- Rana yavapaiensis, Lowland Leopard Frog
Spea bombifrons, Plains Spadefoot
Spea intermontanus, Great Basin Spadefoot