Protecting and enhancing the natural values of Salt Spring Island and its surrounding waters




Amphibians have been identified as the most threatened group of terrestrial vertebrates. Nearly one third (32%) of the about 5,750 amphibian species are at risk worldwide, compared to about 12% of birds and 23% of mammals. The situation in British Columbia is equally bleak: 30% of the salamanders and 64% of the frogs and toads are listed as species of concern either federally or provincially or both. The causes of the declines are incompletely understood, but habitat loss, emerging diseases, and introduced species that prey on or compete with native amphibians have been identified as important factors.

Vancouver Island supports six species of salamanders and three species of native frogs. A further two species, the Bullfrog and Bronze Frog, are introduced and pose a threat to native amphibians. Many of these species also occur on the Gulf Islands, but the species present on each island are poorly known. This page provides a guide to quick identification of amphibians in the region with the objective of encouraging documentation of distribution patterns and monitoring populations. Monitoring persistence and trends of amphibian populations is particularly important on islands where suitable habitats are often limited and where expanding human populations continue to modify wetlands and forests. We need improved monitoring of amphibians both for management and conservation reasons.

American Bullfrog

INVASIVE! Lithobates catesbeianus (formerly Rana catesbeiana) is native to eastern North America and introduced to our area. These frogs breed in permanent ponds and lakes with abundant aquatic vegetation. They are seldom found away

Bronze Frog

INVASIVE! Lithobates clamitans (formerly Green Frog, Rana clamitans) is native to eastern North America and introduced to our area. These frogs breed in ditches, ponds, and marshes with permanent water and abundant aquatic vegetation.

Northern Red-legged Frog

Rana aurora, breeds in marshes, ponds, lakes, and slow-moving sections of streams. While vocal during the breeding season, these frogs are seldom heard, as males usually call while submerged under water. When not breeding, they

Northern Pacific Treefrog

Northern Pacific Treefrog, Pseudacris regilla Northern Pacific Treefrog, Pseudacris regilla, (formerly Pacific Treefrog, Hyla regilla) breeds in a variety of temporary and permanent ponds and wetlands with emergent vegetation. It is the frog most often

Western Toad

Western Toad, Anaxyrus boreas Western Toad, Anaxyrus (formerly Bufo) boreas, breeds in ponds, slow portions of streams, and shallow edges of lakes with sandy bottoms. When not breeding, the toads occur in wetlands, meadows, or

Rough-skinned Newt

Taricha granulosa, can be found in and around ditches, ponds and wetlands during the breeding season and in the forest, often far from water, when not breeding. This semi-aquatic salamander is medium-sized with total length

Northwestern Salamander

Northwestern Salamander, Ambystoma gracile Northwestern Salamander, Ambystoma gracile, can be found in and around ponds and wetlands and in the surrounding forest. It is secretive and shelters under decaying logs or in piles of sloughed-off

Long-toed Salamander

Long-toed Salamander, Ambystoma macrodactylum Long-toed Salamander, Ambystoma macrodactylum, can be found in and around ponds and wetlands and the surrounding forest. It is secretive and shelters under decaying logs or in piles of sloughed-off bark,


Ensatina, Ensatina eschscholtzii Ensatina, Ensatina eschscholtzii, spends its entire life, from egg to adult, on the forest floor, where it shelters under or within decaying logs, stumps, or piles of sloughed-off bark, or other coarse

Wandering Salamander

Wandering Salamander, Aneides vagrans Wandering Salamander, Aneides vagrans, is usually found under loose bark or cracks in fallen logs on the forest floor, but in some areas it shelters under beach logs or in burrows

Western Redback Salamander

Western Redback Salamander, Plethodon vehiculum Western Redback Salamander, Plethodon vehiculum, can be found under decaying logs, in sword fern bases, within the litter layer, and in other moist locations on the forest floor. It is

How can you help?

  • Participate in amphibian monitoring programs, for example through FrogWatch or a local conservation organization
  • Record and report occurrences to help better delineate amphibian distributions; take photographs of the animal rather than handling or disturbing them, whenever possible
  • Record and report observations of dead or dying amphibians that may indicate epidemic disease, contamination, or other catastrophic events
  • Take precautions, such as cleaning waders, nets and other field gear, to avoid inadvertently spreading pathogens to amphibian habitats
  • Protect aquatic breeding sites and associated terrestrial habitats
  • Apply best management practices to minimize impacts of development on amphibians (Website:


Where to report observations?