Amphibians are vertebrates that need water in which to lay their eggs. There are many types of amphibians: frogs, toads, salamanders, caecilians. Their dependence on water and their short life-cycle makes them especially vulnerable to toxins in the environment, reduction in wet habitat, dry weather cycles, and invading predators.
Most amphibians found in a prairie are frogs (the exception in this area being the tiger salamander). There are 8 species of frogs found in the Kankakee Sands Restoration::
Northern leopard frog
Western chorus frog
A recent survey on the world’s amphibians shows that one in three species of frogs, toads and salamanders are in danger of going extinct. Much like grassland birds, habitat loss is the largest threat they face. Access the Global Amphibian Assessment to find out more on the conservation status of the world's known species of frogs, toads, salamanders and caecilians.
Despite these declines, places such as Kankakee Sands prove that restoring habitat can make a positive impact. As the site is restored, vital wetlands are being created, which once again will allow water to flow through the prairie and create shallow pools of water.
We have created over 25 shallow wetland basins, designed to maximize amphibian habitat. The basins have very shallow slopes with aquatic vegetation that serves as ideal egg-laying habitat. The basins dry up in late summer during dry years, which discourages predatory fish from establishing.
Frogs and toads are rediscovering these new wetlands. So far, they have expanded their breeding range to encompass every wetland throughout the restoration. A survey of the site over a four year period showed that amphibian breeding locations increased from 6 (prior to restoration) to 44 sites (after restoration).