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The Houston toad (Anaxyrus houstonensis) is federally-listed under the Endangered Species Act. Survey season is fast approaching.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has issued updated presence/absence survey protocols for the species that become effective this year.

These new protocols take more time to plan and implement, and, in most cases, require the use of specialized equipment. To be successful, planning should take place in advance of implementing these new protocols.

Houston Toad Survey Season


Updated Survey Protocols

These new protocols are a substantial departure from prior methods. They involve the deployment of specialized equipment and collection of data throughout the survey season. The main considerations are detailed below:

  • Methodology. The USFWS now prefers surveys be performed using audio recording devices, deployed for 178 hours (1,068 surveys; 10-minutes each) spread over the entire peak breeding season (February 1 to April 30).
  • Timing. It may take approximately 3 months to perform the surveys. Additional time is needed to determine the number and placement of the audio recording devices in the project area. This includes desktop reviews, on-site reconnaissance, and ground-truth efforts after rain events.
  • Field Access. The audio recording devices are to be placed in all areas of proposed disturbance that contain potential breeding sites (e.g., temporary wet-weather ponds, stock ponds, wetlands, ditches, creeks, etc.) for the duration of the survey season.

These surveys are to be repeated annually for three years and include both annual interim reporting and final reporting of survey results.


SWCA Can Help!

Analyzing the data can be quite time-consuming. SWCA has staff knowledgeable with the automated process of bioacoustic analyses to expedite analyses and reporting requirements. We can answer any questions you may have on the updated protocols and are ready to help design and implement surveys today. Contact your SWCA project manager or one of our experts for more information:

  • arron [dot] tuggle [at] swca [dot] com (Arron Tuggle)
  • emunscher [at] swca [dot] com (Eric Munscher)
  • hframpton [at] swca [dot] com (Harris Frampton)
  • psunby [at] swca [dot] com (Paul Sunby)
  • ccollins [at] swca [dot] com (Chris Collins)