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Blog Hop To It, But Don't Kiss Them. Frogs & Amphibians of Yosemite
Alex Silgalis | 10/19/2020Family Friendly, Hiking, Photography, Wildlife |   

Tropical places win in volume, but Yosemite is home to a trio of amphibians found only in the Sierra Nevada. Here’s a (rib)bit of information about each of the species. And let's not forget the one made famous by Mr. Twain, as he called this part of the world home.

Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog

Sierra-Nevada Yellow Legged FrogPhoto by: Pierre Fidenci - UC BerkeleyNicknamed the “mountain gnomes” due to their appearance and ability to survive freezing high-elevation winter. Just a few decades ago in the high-country, the population of Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frogs was so vast that people had a difficult time walking without stepping on one. Unfortunately, due to the introduction of nonnative trout, their numbers have decreased by a whopping 95%!

Yosemite Toad

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repositoryAnother amphibian designed to live in high elevations from 4,800 feet up to nearly 12,000 feet. And, they live long lives especially for toads. Females have been documented as old as fifteen years and males up to twelve. As visitors and residents can attest, winters in the Sierra are feast or famine. So, this gives them a chance to reproduce on those good years when the snowpack is deep. Another interesting fact, the Yosemite toad has the largest size difference between males and females of any other North American frog or toad.

Mount Lyell Salamander

Photo by: William Flaxington - Cal PhotosOut of all the species listed, these have the most stable population. Named after the mountain where the first male and female that were accidentally caught in 1915, they live at similar elevations as the frog and toad above. An interesting fact is that the Mt. Lyell Salamander is a species that breathes only through its skin, i.e. it has no lungs. Scientists believe Mt. Lyell Salamanders probably move into below-ground microhabitats and remain inactive during winter freezes and summer droughts but remain active underground during a normal summer cycle.

California Red-Legged Frog

Image appears courtesy: NPS / Kirke WrenchA positive story is the re-introduction of the California Red-Legged Frog. This amphibian got its claim to fame for being the one Mark Twain described in the “Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” After more than five decades of being absent in the national park, a collaborative project involving a large group of participants including National Park Service, Yosemite Conservancy, San Francisco Zoo & Gardens, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish & Wildlife and NatureBridge, brought them back in 2017. And if that wasn’t good enough news, the latest field studies show that a new generation of frogs is on their way since eggs have been found in the park's ponds, creek beds, and meadows!

Do Your Part to Save Them

Across the globe, amphibian populations are declining due to habitats vanishing or deteriorating. Invasive species and diseases are arriving, causing more death. Fortunately, the Yosemite Conservancy is doing their part to help and protect the Yosemite toad, Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, and California red-legged frog. If you want to help these species survive so future generations can enjoy them too, you can donate here.


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Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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