Adult snout-vent length averages about 38 mm. Dorsal suface is smooth and green with a lateral plum-colored band. The legs are bright orange on their concealed surfaces. The ventral surface is areolated and white in color. Toes are partially webbed, fingers are entirely free. Digital pads are small. Adults are sexually dimorphic in their size, throat color, and angle of the jaw. Pattern and coloration of newly metamorphosed juviniles resemble adults.
Hyla andersonii range from southern New Jersey to South Carolina. On a few occaisions, however, they have been seen as far south as the Florida panhandle and as far west as Alabama.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )
endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (5000-200,000 square km (about 2000-80,000 square miles)) Pine Barrens of New Jersey; upper Coastal Plain and parts of lower Coastal Plain of North and South Carolina; western Florida panhandle and adjacent Alabama, some 750 km southwest of the nearest South Carolina population; known in Georgia from an old record of a single specimen (Means and Mohler 1979, Gosner and Black 1967, Conant and Collins 1991). The largest populations occur in New Jersey (Freda and Morin 1984). Discovery of this species in Florida was fairly recent (Christman 1970). Palmer (1977) suggested that the current distribution reflects relicts from a considerably more widespread distribution in the past.
Distribution and Habitat
This species is found in the Atlantic Coastal Plain in two distinct populations, one in New Jersey and one in North Carolina. In New Jersey this frog is found in the pine barrens of counties south of and including Monmouth county. In North Carolina this species occurs in Cumberland, Bladen, Moore, Richmond and Sampson counties. There is one report of this from in Richmond county, Georgia.
Hyla andersonii vary in size. Adult females are between 30-41 mm in length and adult males are between 38-47mm in length. Hyla andersoni are bright green with plum or lavender stripes bordered by white running along their sides. On the inner femur and on the groin there are patches of orange, which are concealed when they are in resting/sitting position. The ventral surface is white and the dorsal surface entirely green. This coloration acts to comouflage them in vegetation. On females there are also white bordered patches of darker green on either side of the throat and the mouth is edged in white. Their feet have sticky pads on each finger in order to grip tree bark or leaves. (Conant, 1975)
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Length: 5 cm
Catalog Number: USNM 3600
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Locality: Anderson, South Carolina, United States, North America
Hyla andersonii reside in pools during part of the year, but when those dry up during the warmer summer months, they live on the damp soil in dark shaded areas of raspberry bushes and other brush. Whereas tadpoles swim in pools or ponds, adults are terrestrial, but live near water. Research suggests that that low pH in natural ponds limits Hyla andersonii to acidic ponds. (Grzmek, 1970; Pehek, 1995; Underhill, 1951; Wright & Allen, 1961)
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: This species is restricted to localized wetlands such as hillside seepage bogs within dry uplands, pine barrens, and headwater swamps and disperses along drainages within these areas (Cely and Sorrow 1983; Means and Longden 1976; P.Moler, pers. comm., 1998). Nonbreeding habitat generally is in pine-oak areas adjacent to breeding habitat. Activity is terrestrial and arboreal. Important egg-laying and larval habitats include open cedar swamps and sphagnaceous, shrubby, acidic, seepage bogs on hillsides below pine-oak ridges. Intolerant of closed-canopy conditions.
In the Southeast, typical habitat is characterized by the topography, soils, and vegetation of the Carolina Sandhills, with pocosin or evergreen shrub swamps established along seeps and small streams within the surrounding longleaf pine-oak forest (Noble and Noble 1923, Wright and Wright 1949, Gosner and Black 1957, Bullard 1965, Means and Moler 1978, Tardell et al. 1981).
In North Carolina, occurrences are almost exclusively in or near pocosins or shrub bogs with dense growth of pines, bays, and various ericaceous shrubs (Palmer 1977).
Garton and Sill (1979) described breeding habitat in South Carolina as low vegetation with dense growth of SPHAGNUM mosses, similar to those described by Means and Longden (1976) in Florida. The largest population (some 50 calling males) in the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge was found in a sphagnaceous seepage slope comprising about 5 acres.
Cely and Sorrow (1986) found that occurrences in South Carolina appeared to be restricted to the Fall Line Sandhills at elevations ranging between 61 and 122 m. The general aspect of 18 inhabited localities was evergreen shrub-herb bog found along small black water tributaries, sometimes upstream from extensive hardwood bottomland forest.
HYLA ANDERSONII is often encountered in disturbed sites associated with utility rights-of-way and recent clearcuts (Tardell et al. 1981, Cely and Sorrow 1986).
During a four-year survey in the South Carolina Sandhills, Cely and Sorrow (1986) found calling males in atypical habitats, including temporary habitats created by exceptionally heavy rainfall, but persistent populations (i.e., sites occupied for at least two years) were generally associated with permanent open water of large stream drainages.
Breeding has been reported in small pools, streams, and ditches (Gerhardt 1974). Eggs sink individually to the bottom (Noble and Noble 1923). Breeding habitats are typically characterized by seepage areas, or small streams, with dense SPHAGNUM cover. Herbaceous or shrubby areas are preferred, but densely forested areas do not support the species (Means and Longden 1976, Garton and Sill 1979).
Freda and Gonzalez (1986) described breeding season habitat in their New Jersey Pine Barrens study site as a small seepage stream, dammed by a sand road, and choked with vegetation (SPHAGNUM spp. and UTRICULARIA spp.).
Breeding habitat in the panhandle of Florida is characterized by acid hillside seepage bogs with copious SPHAGNUM mosses and dense woody vegetation (dominantly CLIFTONIA MONOPHYLLA and CYRILLA RACEMIFLORA) (Means and Longden 1976).
Breeding ponds within the wetland matrix described by Freda and Morin (1984) were typically small (5 to 10 m diameter), sphagnum-filled depressions. Zampella (1994) pointed out that treefrogs were typically found in small, ephemeral ponds, rather than in larger water bodies.
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Migrates between breeding pools and adjacent nonbreeding terrestrial habitats. In New Jersey, Freda and Morin (1984) and Freda and Gonzalez (1986) demonstrated that treefrogs often travel distances of 100 m from breeding ponds during the nonbreeding season.
Adult pine barrens tree frogs are predatory. In the larval stage tree frogs eat vegetation or algae in the water. Adults catch flies, small slugs, snails, beetles, butterflies or moths. They catch these organisms with their tongue. While the tadpole has reduced teeth, the teeth grow slightly when an adult. (Beebee, 1985)
Comments: Metamorphosed frogs eat mainly insects and other small invertebrates (Palmer 1977). Bullard (1965:155) described captive frogs consuming flies and crickets, often attacking crickets "almost as large as themselves." Larvae eat organic debris, algae, and plant tissue.
10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but likely exceeds 10,000.
Individuals are rarely seen. They are disruptively colored, which makes them almost invisible when perched in green vegetation, and call sporadically, which makes them very difficult to locate.
Freda and Morin (1984) used radio-isotope tagging to track eight individual treefrogs for periods ranging from 4 to 30 days. Four of the marked frogs moved more than 50 m from the breeding pond and one frog spent five days more than 100 m from the pond. Frogs were also capable of moving great distances in a short period of time. One tagged frog moved 102 m in a single day. In New Jersey, average estimated daily movements of adult frogs ranged between 0 and 20 m, with longer range movements ranging from 21 to 48 m (Freda and Gonzalez 1986). Of the eight frogs tagged, seven remained within 70 m of the breeding pool near which they were initially captured. Daily movements were not correlated with temperature or daily rainfall.
Life History and Behavior
Comments: Probably hibernates in north; habits poorly known. Calling occurs most vigorously on warm rainy nights (Palmer 1977).
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
Hyla andersonii reproduce sexually. Matin occurs during the spring, usually from May 1-July 20, the latter half of the season occurring mostly in the southern areas of North and South Carolina. Age at sexual maturity is 2 to 3 years old. Ovulation is induced by males while mounting the female from the back. Males release sperm directly onto the eggs as they are released by females. (Conant, 1975; Beebee 1985)
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
The breeding season in North Carolina appears to be protracted, with choruses heard from April through August (Palmer 1977). Vocalization occurs between mid-April and early September in South Carolina, being most consistent from May through July. Choruses begin at dusk, with periodic choruses of short duration occurring after dark (Garton and Sill 1979, Cely and Sorrow 1986). Locations are generally represented by only a few calling males (Means and Longden 1976, Garton and Sill 1979, Moler 1981, Tardell et al. 1981, Cely and Sorrow 1986).
In New Jersey, males called nightly beginning in May and early June. In July, males called only infrequently and only after rainstorms. Nightly calling ceased by August. Egg laying in New Jersey occurs from late April to mid-July. (Morin et al. 1990). It is uncertain as to whether late clutches represent late breeding subpopulation or are additional clutches deposited by adults that bred earlier (Morin et al. 1990).
In Florida, males called from April to September and larvae were found from mid-June to early September (Means and Longden 1976). Calling activity was strongly correlated with humidity and thundershower activity and no males were heard calling on dry nights, especially after several dry days. Amplexed pairs were observed in mid-June and mid-July. Larvae were found in the field from mid-June through August, but probably occur earlier in May and later into September.
Females oviposit 800 to 900 eggs (50-200 according to Freda and Morin ). Means and Longden (1976) found that a clutch of 206 eggs from one female hatched in 72 h at 25 C. In the field, larvae metamorphose by the end of summer.
Hyla andersonii are considered an endangered species. Recently, many pools which provided a habitat for Hyla andersonii have been destroyed for the sake of development. The pools have been drained or dried up and they no longer have a place to live. The only way to preserve this species is to protect the area of the Pine Barrens on the eastern coast of the U.S. Another endangerment is DDT. There now remains only three main concentrations of the Pine Barrens Tree Frog, the largest of which is in New Jersey. (Beebee, T.J.C.)
US Federal List: endangered
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/near threatened(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
- 1994Rare(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Rare(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Rare(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Rare(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Occurs in three widely disjunct areas: New Jersey, the Carolinas, and Florida-Alabama; many occurrences are protected, though most include small numbers of individuals; some habitats need active management to remain suitable; apparently stable and secure overall.
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)
Comments: Relatively stable overall.
Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, unknown degree of decline in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Eggs are laid singly, with the vitellus measuring about 1.2 to 1.4 mm.
Degree of Threat: Medium
Comments: Apparently secure in most of the range, although relative scarcity and specialized habitat requirements justify continued monitoring and protection. The primary threat in the New Jersey Pine Barrens is habitat destruction or alteration from residential, agricultural, and industrial development (Palmer 1977, Freda and Morin 1984). Development pressures within the Pine Barrens place isolated populations outside preserves at increasing risk of elimination. The early successional shrub bogs, seeps, and sphagnum ponds selected as breeding sites are very acidic and nutrient poor ecosystems and any changes in the chemistry of the waters in these habitats (as, for example, from stormwater runoff) would likely cause the disappearance of the characteristic flora and fauna (Ehrenfeld 1983, Morgan et al. 1983, Freda and Morin 1984). The sandy soils of the Pine Barrens are very porous and allow pollutants to quickly enter the ground water, which is the major water source for the wetlands upon which the treefrog depends. Development can also lower the water table, which would have dramatic effects on the hydrology of bog wetlands. Garton and Sill (1979) reported that the specific habitat requirements of the species made it susceptible to local extirpation. Unlike other sympatric treefrog species, HYLA ANDERSONII generally does not breed in temporary water bodies such as natural rain pools or in human-made areas such as roadside ditches and borrow pits. However, Bullard (1965) reported chorusing males along a roadside ditch in North Carolina. As is true for other Sandhills species, plant succession due to fire suppression appears to be a significant threat in South Carolina (Cely and Sorrow 1986).
Restoration Potential: Means and Moler (1978) and Tardell et al. (1981) suggested that the presence of HYLA ANDERSONII in disturbed situations may indicate that the species can readily colonize new areas of suitable habitat and that existing areas may be managed to maintain suitable open shrubby plant communities through judicious use of prescribed burning and selective logging and clearing.
Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: Preserves should include breeding ponds and a surrounding buffer area to accommodate post-breeding movements. A buffer zone of 100 m would include the typical range of dispersing adults and would provide important protection for the sensitive water chemistry of seepage bogs (Freda and Morin 1984).
Management Requirements: The typical shrub bog that supports breeding colonies is an early successional, subclimax community dependent on disturbances such as fire to maintain the appropriate species composition and vegetation structure (Means and Mohler 1979, Freda and Morin 1984). Periodic fire was probably the dominant force in pre-settlement times that created and maintained suitable habitats (Means and Moler 1979). Cely and Sorrow (1986) believed that active fire suppression in the Carolina Sandhills has largely eliminated natural creation of suitable habitat. In New Jersey, the greatest threat to the treefrog on protected lands is vegetation succession due to fire suppression. See Means and Moler (1979) for information on the use of fire in maintaining or creating suitable early successional habitats.
Also of critical importance is the characteristic water chemistry of these wetland systems, particularly a very low pH (Wright and Wright 1949, Gosner and Black 1957, Means and Longden 1976, Means and Mohler 1979, Cely and Sorrow 1982, Freda and Morin 1984) and low nutrient content (Freda and Morin 1984). Protection and management must concentrate on maintaining community integrity as well as water quality within critical habitats.
Management Research Needs: Freda and Morin (1984) suggested that further research was needed on post-breeding movement of females, as well as on the home ranges of males and females during the late summer and fall. Dispersal of newly metamorphosed froglets is also poorly understood. Zampella (1994) stressed that more information is needed on the functional hydrology of ephemeral wetlands used for breeding. Management regimes for shrub bog wetlands, including prescribed fire and woody vegetation control, should be researched (Freda and Morin 1984).
Biological Research Needs: Almost nothing is known of the postlarval development, survival rates, or adult nonbreeding ecology.
Global Protection: Few to several (1-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
Comments: Many occurrences on public lands provide good opportunities for management. For example, this frog occurs in 16 sites within the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in Chesterfield County, South Carolina (Garton and Sill 1979, Brown 1980). In New Jersey, the greatest density of treefrogs, and the largest numbers of colonies, are found in protected areas within Lebanon and Wharton state forests and Greenwood and Pasadena wildlife management areas (Freda and Morin 1984). Most occurrences in the Florida and Alabama populations are on protected lands, specifically, Eglin Air Force Base and Blackwater River State Forest in Florida, and Conecuh National Forest in Alabama (Dale Jackson, pers. comm., 1997).
Needs: Protect existing EOs from habitat destruction/modification. Palmer (1977) suggested that populations might easily be preserved in public areas in North Carolina, including Fort Bragg Military Reservation, Bladen Lakes State Forest (Bladen County), and Sandhills Wildlife Management Area (Moore, Richmond, and Scotland Counties).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Stewardship Overview: HYLA ANDERSONII appears to be relatively secure in most of its disjunct range, although its relative scarcity and specialized habitat requirements justify continued monitoring and protection of the species. Considerable knowledge exists regarding habitat requirements during the breeding season when calling males and amplexed pairs are typically found in small, sometimes ephemeral, ponds within a matrix of shrub and herbaceous bog or pocosin. Successful establishment of breeding colonies appears to depend on an array of specific habitat parameters, including acid pH and low nutrient content in breeding ponds, which are threatened by fire suppression and development of surrounding areas. Data from New Jersey indicate that post-breeding males may move up to 100 m from breeding ponds, so that efforts to protect critical habitat must include protection of suitable buffer zones in upland areas to accommodate these movements. The extreme sensitivity of water quality in breeding habitats makes monitoring of water chemistry important. Use of prescribed fire in shrub and herbaceous seepage bogs and pocosins should be further researched. Successional processes in fire-suppressed systems rapidly alter the sphagnaceous, open-water breeding areas essential to the treefrog's survival.
Pine Barrens tree frog
Hyla andersonii, only about 1–3 inches (25–76 mm) long, is one of the smaller species of tree frogs. Members of the species are predominantly green, with wide, dark stripes. They often have spotted, orange-gold markings on the hidden surfaces of their legs and tend to have large toe pads.
The key to distinguishing the Pine Barrens tree frog from the similar-appearing American green tree frog (H. cinerea) is the white-bordered lavender stripe on each side of the body in the Pine Barrens tree frog. H. cinerea has only a white stripe in this location.
H. andersonii is most commonly found in brushy areas, often near peat bogs or shallow ponds. They usually inhabit areas carpeted with thick moss. Adults are terrestrial, but tend to reside near water sources. Unlike most frogs, they are tolerant of low pH levels, and often lay eggs in shallow, acidic ponds. The ideal pH level for H. andersonii eggs is between 3.8 and 5.9.
Due to the limited extent of suitable habitats, members of the H. andersonii species are currently distributed in three distinct populations in the eastern United States, in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the Sandhills of North and South Carolina, in fact, it's the North Carolina State Frog, and the Florida panhandle (with Alabama). Small Hyla andersonii populations are thought to be located in Georgia.
It was listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service between 1977 and 1983, when additional populations were found in Florida. The IUCN has classified it as Near Threatened as of 1996.
- Hyla andersonii, Amphibian Species of the World 5.6
- Hammerson (2004). Hyla andersonii. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 5 May 2006. Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is near threatened. RangeMap:
- "Pine Barrens treefrog (Hyla andersonii)". Environmental Conservation Online System. US Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Hammerson, Geoffrey. "Hyla Andersonii". IUCN Redlist. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- Horton, Emily. "Pine Barren Tree Frog". NCpedia. Retrieved 19 January 2014.