Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


As climate change progresses, arid-adapted anurans might be particularly susceptible to population declines because of their reliance on ephemeral pools for successful reproduction. Because arid-adapted anurans are difficult to study due to short active seasons and cryptic lifestyles, little is known about their habitat preferences. One such arid-adapted species is the Red-Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus; RST), a Kansas Species in Need of Conservation. Since this designation in 1987, little research has been conducted to understand their conservation needs. During the summers of 2021 and 2022, RST surveys were conducted both near areas where the species has historically been observed in Clark, Comanche, and Barber counties, Kansas, as well as in areas just outside the border of their known range, including Kiowa County, Kansas. Automatic recording devices were deployed to detect signs of breeding activity. To understand finer-scale movement patterns, unmanned aerial sensing and developing telemetry techniques were combined to map RST movements. Excluding the RST observations at the telemetry site, 96 RST were observed across both summers. The majority of these observations were after sunset. Active toads were observed on gypsum outcrops. Calling RST were detected at five locations. The results of this study increase our understanding of the habitat associations of RST in Kansas and provide insights and recommendations for their conservation.


Dr. William Stark

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type



© 2023 Elisabeth Russell


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