Ready for bed: pre-hibernation movements and habitat use by Fowler’s Toads (Anaxyrus fowleri)
Keywords:Fowler’s Toad, Anaxyrus fowleri, radio-tracking, amphibian, habitat use, behaviour, movement, spatial ecology, hibernation, Long Point, Ontario
We used radio-tracking to investigate movement patterns and habitat use of Fowler’s Toads (Anaxyrus fowleri) during late summer and early fall in a relatively undisturbed lakeshore dune and beach habitat at Long Point, Ontario. Small radio transmitters were fitted to 11 adult toads with an external harness made from fine surgical plastic tubing wrapped around the body behind the front limbs. We located radio-tagged toads morning and evening, for a maximum of 9 days, recording their locations using Global Positioning System units. Initially, the toads were located on the upper beach or in the fore-dunes during the day, either dug in under the sand or hiding beneath debris; in the evening, they were generally active on the lower beach close to the water line. After a storm and the onset of cooler autumn weather, the toads tended to move further from the water line. They also curtailed their nightly activity and retreated deeper into the sand. As this sort of behaviour was not observed during the summer, we interpret it as pre-hibernation movement to more stable sites away from the beach where the animals can burrow deeply into the sand to lie dormant during the winter.
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