Orange County, California, of course. And we're talkin' toad.
The western spadefoot toad (Spea hammondii)
is a three-inch long, rotund little amphibian noted as a "species of concern"
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It's got big pupils that expand and contract like cat eyes, and it secretes skin mucus that smells like peanut butter
It's also one of many amphibian, reptile and small mammal species that USGS biologists are studying on lands managed by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy
, a nonprofit nonadvocacy organization that manages some 50,000 acres of the historic Irvine Ranch
WERC's San Diego Field Station
has been working extensively on lands managed by the conservancy since 2005. Station biologists Sara Schuster
, Liz Gallegos
and Adam Backlin
are based in Irvine, and they work with conservancy colleagues to study the ecosystems of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks
-- which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Interior National Natural Landmarks
and the California Natural Landmarks
You can learn more about USGS projects on Irvine Ranch Conservancy lands in their latest newsletter: http://activities.irconservancy.org/Winter2010Partner
-- Ben Young Landis
Top: WERC biologist Chris Brown is an accomplished photographer, whose snapshots include this wide-eyed fellow, a western spadefoot toad. Image credit: Chris Brown/USGS.