Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura (frogs & toads); Caudata (salamanders)
Suborder: Various
Family: Various

Amphibians are a class of cold-blooded vertebrates made up of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians (worm-like animals with poorly developed eyes). In Minnesota freshwater, you are most likely to find frogs and salamanders. All amphibians spend part of their lives in water and part on land, which is how they earned their name—“amphibian” comes from a Greek word meaning “double life.” These animals are born with gills, and while some outgrow them as they transform into adults, others retain them for their entire lives. Having a freshwater habitat is vital for the amphibian population.

According to AmphibiaWeb, there are currently approximately 6,300 amphibian species worldwide, 90% of which are frogs. There are 292 species in the United States. The Minnesota DNR reports that there are 22 amphibian species currently found in Minnesota.


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What are essential needs for your species?

Life Cycle

All amphibians start life as an egg in a ball of jelly. The eggs are laid in water. The egg hatches and the young amphibian breaks out of the jelly. The young amphibian has gills to breathe underwater and a tail with a fin so it can swim. When it gets bigger it starts to grow legs. Most salamanders keep their gills, some grow lungs, and many salamanders have both gills and lungs. Frogs lose their gills and grow lungs to breathe air. They also lose its tail fins and legs grow much larger. Adult frogs live on land but return to the water to mate and lay eggs.

Source: NatureNorth

secondary consumer

Energy Web

Amphibians play a pivotal role in the ecosystem as secondary consumers in many food chains. Tadpoles have significant impact in nutritional cycling. They are herbivorous to omnivorous and are prey for both invertebrates and vertebrates. Adult amphibians are the best biological pest controllers. Because of their importance in the ecosystem, decline or extinction of their population has a significant impact on other organisms.

Source: Centre for Ecological Sciences


Amphibians require suitable aquatic and terrestrial habitats to support them. Their eggs are laid in water and the larvae develop there. Outside the breeding season adults and juveniles spend much of their time on land where, generally, they need damp or humid conditions to prevent water loss; some species can tolerate more water loss than others. Good amphibian habitat should include:

  • Suitable water bodies for egg-laying and development of larvae.
  • Shelter from excessive heat, dryness, and predators.
  • Suitable foraging areas and sufficiently large populations of prey species.
  • Suitable hibernation sites.

Source: Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust


Are your species' needs being met?

You should have a pretty good idea of what your species needs in its environment to be healthy and vibrant. Do you know if your watershed is healthy for your species?