Spiny Toad, Spiny Common Toad
Species Description: Recuero E, Canestrelli D, Voeroes J, Szabo K, Poyarov NA, Arntzen JW, Crnobrnja-Isailovic J, Kidov AA, Cogalniceanu D, Caputo FP, Nascetti G, Martinez-Solano I 2011 Multilocus species tree analyses resolve the radiation of the widespread Bufo bufo species group (Anura, Bufonidae). Mol Phylog Evol 62:71-86.
© 2015 Arlo Hinckley (1 of 67)
The larvae are described from Tunisian specimens. They can reach a total length of up to 30 mm, and their eyes are situated dorsally on the head. They have a sinistral spiracle and a medial anus. The end of the tail is rounded (Hassine and Escoriza 2014).
It can be differentiated from other sympatric species of toad by its intensely red-colored iris. In comparison to allopatric populations of B. bufo, a morphologically similar species, B. spinosus has more widely divergent parotoids and larger inner metatarsal tubercles. In males, the inner metatarsal tubercle is less rounded in B. spinosus than in B. bufo (Arntzen and McAtear et al. 2013, Ortiz-Santaliestra 2014).
In life, this species usually shows a uniform brown coloration, but may also have shades of yellow, red, green, gray, and/or black. The iris is noticeably red. There may or may not be a dark or light mottled design in the back. Its ventral coloration can be yellowish or pale brown, but may differ in juveniles. The larvae are uniformly black or dark brown, and have black speckling on the tail fin. (Hassine and Escoriza 2014, Ortiz-Santaliestra 2014).
In addition to the aforementioned variation in coloration, B. spinosus varies in body size, parotoid gland size, and in presence of warts on the skin. Body size and presence of warts have evolved independently in several lineages of the B. bufo species complex, possibly as ecological adaptations. Sexual dimorphism is significant in mature individuals. Females are bigger than males and have less robust arms relative to their body size. Males have nuptial pads on their first three fingers, whereas females have no nuptial pads at all (Luescher et al. 2001, Ortiz-Santaliestra 2014).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Algeria, Andorra, France, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, United Kingdom
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Males have a weak and short mating call, and call throughout the day and night. Breeding usually takes place in spring, though this varies geographically, with populations in warmer areas generally breeding earlier in the year and populations in colder areas generally breeding later in the year. Amplexus is axillary. Females lay anywhere from 2000 – 11000 eggs at a time, which are around 3 mm in diameter and connected in strings and attached onto aquatic vegetation. It has a geographically variable larval period, with the period lasting 65 - 108 days in the southern Iberian Peninsula, and 55.5 days in Doñana National Park in Andalusia, Spain (Ortiz-Santaliestra 2014).
The adults are primarily insectivorous, though the types of arthropods they consume vary widely geographically. Some populations consume primarily beetles, others consume primarily ants, and others consume a variety of prey. The tadpoles are omnivorous, and consume detritus, algae, plankton, aquatic plants, and arthropods. This species is preyed upon by various mammals, birds, and snakes. As a result, it has evolved antipredatory behaviors such as expanding its body by inhaling air, rising up on its legs while exposing the back of its head, and secreting toxins. Additionally, B. spinosus is parasitized by Lucilia bufonivora and L. sericata, which are flies, and Batracobdella algira, Limnatis nilotica, and Hirudo troctina, which are leeches (Hassine and Escoriza 2014, Ortiz-Santaliestra 2014).
Trends and Threats
Relation to Humans
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Bufo spinosus was formerly considered a subspecies of B. bufo, but is now recognized as a distinct species within the B. bufo species complex, which consists of B. bufo, B. eichwaldi, B. spinosus, and B. verrucosissimus. Bufo spinosus is sister to the clade B. bufo and B. verrucosissimus, while B. eichwaldi is sister to all other Bufo species within the B. bufo species complex (Arntzen and McAtear et al. 2013, Arntzen and Recuero et al. 2013, Recuero et al. 2012).
The species epithet spinosus is derived from Latin, meaning "thorny", which is in reference to the spiny appearance of its skin (Ortiz-Santaliestra 2014).
This species was featured as News of the Week on 20 August 2018:
Identifying the biological mechanisms underlying seasonality in infection can enable better prediction and prevention of future infection peaks. A recent study tracked Spiny Common Toads (Bufo spinosus) within and across annual cycles to assess seasonal variation in movement, body temperatures and infection from the fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Across annual cycles, toads did not consistently sustain infections but instead gained and lost infections from year to year. Radio-tracking data showed that infections were lost after breeding migrations and pronounced seasonal variation in toad body temperatures may be the reason. This study provides evidence of migratory recovery (i.e., loss of infection during migration) in a wild populations and may help explain differences in susceptibility to Bd (Written by Vance Vredenburg).
Arntzen, J. W., McAtear, J., Recuero, E., Ziermann, J. M., Ohler, A., van Alphen, J., Martínez-Solano, I. (2013). ''Morphological and genetic differentiation of Bufo toads: two cryptic species in Western Europe (Anura, Bufonidae).'' Contributions to Zoology, 82(4), 147-169.
Arntzen, J. W., Recuero, E., Canestrelli, D., Martínez-Solano, I. (2013). ''How complex is the Bufo bufo species group?'' Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 69, 1203-1208.
Daudin, F. M. (1803). An. XI. Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière des Reptiles; Ouvrage Faisant suit à l'Histoire Naturelle Générale et Particulière, Composée par Leclerc de Buffon; et Rédigée par C.S. Sonnini, Membre de Plusieurs Sociétés Savantes, Paris.
Hassine, J. B., Escoriza, D. (2014). ''Bufo spinosus in Tunisia: new data on occurrence, parasitism and tadpole morphology.'' Herpetological Bulletin, 127, 22-32.
Luescher, B., Grossenbacher, K., Scholl, A. (2001). ''Genetic differentiation of the common toad (Bufo bufo) in the Swiss Alps.'' Amphibia-Reptilia, 22(2), 141-154.
Ortiz-Santaliestra, M. E. 2014. Sapo común – Bufo spinosus Daudin, 1803. En: Enciclopedia Virtual de los Vertebrados Españoles. Salvador, A., Martínez-Solano, I. (Eds.). Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid. http://www.vertebradosibericos.org/
Written by Arlo Hinckley, Alberto Sánchez (arlohinckley AT hotmail.com), Braunschweig University & Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC)
First submitted 2015-08-04
Edited by Gordon Lau; updated by Ann T. Chang (2019-03-06)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2019 Bufo spinosus: Spiny Toad <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/7754> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Feb 16, 2020.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2020. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 16 Feb 2020.
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