“The Dixie Valley toad is a pretty toad, with flecks of gold on an olive background,” Tracy, a long-time professor in the biology department of the College of Science, said. “It’s not like the big, common green toads you might find in other marshes around the west or even in Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.”
The Dixie Valley toad is in Churchill County about 100 miles east of Reno. The toads are only found in isolated spring-fed marshes which make up less than four square miles, surrounded by an arid region where aquatic resources are both rare and widely scattered. Dixie Valley is the hottest and most geothermally active system in the Basin and Range Province.
The small isolated toad populations also have the smallest individuals compared to other western toads. The Dixie Valley species has the smallest body size among the region’s complex of related species in the western United States, and can be further diagnosed from other toads in the complex by the large glands on its hind legs in addition to its distinctive coloration.
The Railroad Valley toad is in the Tonopah Basin in the central Nevada desert and the Hot Creek Toad is about 35 miles away but in Hot Creek Mountain Range, in a drainage isolated from the Railroad Valley toad. All three new species are natives of the Great Basin in Nevada, which was once covered by large marshes and giant inland lakes during the Pleistocene Epoch and is now among the most arid regions in the United States with only one percent of the landscape containing water.
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