SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — If you want to judge the vitality of an ecosystem, take note of the amount of animals that are wandering about. In Texas — specifically parts east of Travis County — an abundance of Houston Toads usually is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem.
The number of Houston Toads, however, has been declining — mostly due to growth and gradual degradation of lands for the animal to live.
Michelle Lutte, Ph.D. and Christopher Serenari, Ph.D., of Texas State University, are leading a study to better understand the Houston Toad and hopefully save it. Usually, this kind of work is done on public lands and parks. But the Houston Toad is found mostly on private lands.
“Estimates are between two and four thousand toads are remaining on the landscape,” says Serenari.
Houston Toads can usually be found in ponds and small streams.
Lutte and Serenari have partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife to ask landowners in counties between Austin and Houston to grant them access to study the toads up close.
“People and Houston Toads are part of this larger picture of ecosystem integrity,” says Lutte.