Date of Award

12-2009

Degree Name

MS in Biological Sciences

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

David Pilliod, PhD

Abstract

The arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus) is a federally endangered species found on Fort Hunter Liggett, Monterey County, California. The species was discovered in 1996 and was determined to occupy 26.7 km of the San Antonio River from approximately 2.4 km northwest of the San Antonio Mission de Padua, to the river delta above the San Antonio Reservoir. The construction of the San Antonio Reservoir dam in 1963 isolated this northern population of arroyo toads. Through time, the Fort Hunter Liggett landscape has changed drastically. The land was heavily grazed by cattle until 1991, which considerably reduced vegetation in riparian areas. Military training following acquisition of the land in 1940 far exceeded current allowable training. Fire was used extensively to reduce unfavorable vegetation, and as a result, extreme tree loss occurred through the ranges. Today cattle grazing is prohibited and military activity is restricted from riparian corridors. While riparian vegetation continues to recover in the San Antonio River, habitat for breeding arroyo toads has become less suitable. To improve conservation efforts and management of this endangered species, I have provided a thorough assessment of the life history of arroyo toads specific to Fort Hunter Liggett and identified the status and current threats to the population on the installation. I have also prepared a habitat assessment of the San Antonio River in the arroyo toad range, quantified habitat conversion, and identified areas that may no longer provide suitable breeding habitat for the species. The research conducted for this report is preliminary to restoration efforts that are inevitable to ensure recovery of the endangered species at Fort Hunter Liggett.

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