Water plays a prominent role in providing animal habitat in the Crown of the Continent. Yet, the region’s recent glaciation has hindered the development of amphibian populations to the extent that only 15 species occur in the region. These are of great interest, however, because of their highly specialized adaptations and sensitivity to imperceptible changes to the ecosystem they live in.
Surviving in cold mountain streams, some frog species have developed the ability to fertilize eggs internally while others develop giant sucker mouths as tadpoles with which to attach themselves to rocks in fast-moving water. Boreal toads, which can be found in elevations up to 8,000 feet, are toxic to many fish, allowing them to coexist with voracious trout. Researchers study adaptations such as these to determine the resiliency, health and distribution of amphibians, as well as their response to climate change.