Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Acris gryllus gryllus has a small body about 1.6-3.2cm long, a tapered snout, and anal warts. The head is pointed and has a dark triangle between the eyes (Behler 1979). A light bar extends from the eye to the forelimb. The thigh is marked by a clean, dark stripe surrounded by distinct light stripes. The other subspecies Acris gryllus dorsalis is similar in size and appearance to A. g. gryllus, except that it has no anal warts and the rear of its thigh is marked by two dark lines.

Males have a grayish chest and throat with a round vocal sac. These body areas are usually more spotted in males than females (Stebbins 1954).

Acris gryllus can be distinguished from other species of this genus by its longer hind legs and smaller degree of webbing on toes. Specifically, the webbing does not reach the tip of the first toe (Conant and Collins 1991).

  • Conant, R. and Collins, J. T. (1991). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Behler, J. L. (1979). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York.
  • Cochran, D. M. (1970). The New Field Book of Reptiles and Amphibians. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1954). Amphibians and Reptiles of Western North America. McGraw-Hill, New York.
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Distribution

Acris gryllus lives in the temperate climate of the southeastern portion of the United States. The range of this species, also known as the southern cricket frog, extends from the southeastern corner of Virginia and spans through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. A. gryllus has also been reported in the southwestern tip of Tennessee. All throughout these states, A. gryllus has been found in the areas with an elevation of 500-1000 m away from the coastline.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Range Description

This species ranges from southeastern Virginia to southern Florida, west to southeastern Tennessee and southeastern Louisiana, USA.
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endemic to a single nation

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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Southeastern Virginia to southern Florida, west to southeastern Tennessee and southeastern Louisiana.

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Distribution and Habitat

A. g. gryllus ranges from southeastern Virginia to the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River, while A. g. dorsalis ranges from southwestern Georgia to Alabama and the southern tip of Florida. Both are regularly terrestrial and lowland dwelling species, found in ponds, bogs, and river-bottoms. Occasionally found in upland regions such as northern river valleys. They favor grassy regions because vegetation offers protection (Conant and Collins 1991). Acris gryllus is not an able climber and therefore usually escapes danger by hopping around, leaping onto floating vegetation, or diving quickly to the bottom of a pond. It is a hardy frog and abundant wherever it is found (Cochran 1970).

  • Conant, R. and Collins, J. T. (1991). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Behler, J. L. (1979). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York.
  • Cochran, D. M. (1970). The New Field Book of Reptiles and Amphibians. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1954). Amphibians and Reptiles of Western North America. McGraw-Hill, New York.
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Physical Description

Morphology

This small frog can be found in several colors. Generally they range from black, brown, or reddish brown to bright green or gray. Along with these patterns of coloration is a stripe of contrasting color beginning anteriorly at the top of the snout and running along the back towards the posterior and ends at the urostyle. Between the eyes of A. gryllus, there is a triangle marking with two corners at each respective eye and the third corner connected to the stripe seen on the back. When compared to a similar species, the northen cricket frog, A. gryllus is found to be smaller and more slender. The snout is markedly more pointed, the legs are longer and more proportional to the size of the body, and there is less webbing between the toes. The first toe is partially free of webbing and 3 joints of the fourth toe are completely free. Warts appear on the skin, especially around the anal area, but are not as prominent as seen in the northern cricket frog. In addition to the stripe running down the back of A. gryllus, there is also a darker longitudinal stripe that can be seen on the rear of the thigh. There is slight sexual dimorphism seen with the southern cricket frogs. The females are generally the slightly larger sex with a length of 16-33 mm and the males achieve a length of 15-29 mm. The males have darker throats, whereas the females' throats are white. Males also have a single subgular sac. When young, the frogs are entirely aquatic tadpoles. Upon reaching adulthood, the recently changed frogs are roughly 14 mm.

Range length: 15 to 33 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

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Size

Length: 3 cm

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Type Information

Holotype for Acris gryllus
Catalog Number: USNM 3563
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Key West, Monroe, Florida, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Baird, S. F. 1854. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 7 (2): 59.
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Syntype for Acris gryllus
Catalog Number: USNM 3564
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: No Further Locality Data, Georgia, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Le Conte, J. E. 1825. Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York. 1 (2): 282.
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Syntype for Acris gryllus
Catalog Number: USNM 5909
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: No Further Locality Data, Georgia, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Le Conte, J. E. 1825. Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York. 1 (2): 282.
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Ecology

Habitat

Although A. gryllus is a member of the tree frog family, it lives mostly on the ground or in freshwater areas with sunlight. Examples of prime habitat include shallow ponds with vegetation, meadows, creeks, marshes and coastal plain bogs. The southern cricket frog can also be found in roadside pools and ditches. In these areas, they can become quite abundant. Its main choices of habitation changes, however, when the southern cricket frog's range overlaps with that of Acris crepitans. When this occurs, A. gryllus will typically move to areas which have been drained of water. The population of A. gryllus becomes less active and enters a period of dormancy near the middle of December, and reanimates in mid-February.

Range elevation: 500 to 1000 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial ; freshwater

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams; temporary pools

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

  • Wright, A., A. Wright. 1949. Handbook of Frogs and Toads. Ithaca: Comstock Publishing Associates.
  • Martof, B., W. Palmer, J. Bailey, J. Harrison. 1980. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.
  • Zug, G., L. Vitt, J. Caldwell. 2001. Herpetology- An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. San Diego: Academic Press.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Its habitat is grassy margins of swamps, marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, ditches, bogs, and nearby temporary pools, including such habitats in openly wooded areas that do not produce excessive shade. Eggs and larvae develop in shallow water.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Comments: Grassy margins of swamps, marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, ditches, bogs, and nearby temporary pools, including such habitats in openly wooded areas that do not produce excessive shade. Eggs and larvae develop in shallow water.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No 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.

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Trophic Strategy

A. gryllus is an insectivore, feeding on a wide variety of insects with a major part of their diet being mosquitoes. When in the tadpole stage, however, this species is a herbivore. As adults, to catch their prey, they sit and wait in ambush for insects. When a prey item comes near, they lunge forward and shoot out their tongue. The southern cricket frog has also been observed chasing after their prey on the ground.

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods)

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Comments: Metamorphosed frogs eat various small invertebrates. Larvae eat organic debris, algae, and plant tissue.

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Associations

A. gryllus is an insectivore which consumes a variety of insects, some of which are harmful to crops. The southern cricket frog, in turn, is preyed upon by a plethora of different fish, salamanders, turtles, and snakes.

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To protect itself from predators, the southern cricket frog is able to jump long distances of up to 8 feet and has the ability to camouflage itself either in the vegetation or water. The predators of A. gryllus are fish, large salamanders (such as Ambystoma tigrinum), snakes (such as Thamnophis sirtalis), turtles and wading birds.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

The call of A. gryllus sounds like a rapid "click-click-click", as if two small stones or marbles were being hit against each other. The rhythm of the call always remains the same- it never changes pitch or frequency. It is also a very fast constant chirp with one call per second. These calls can be heard in most weather and at any time of the day. A. gryllus males use this chirping for two main things: to attract females for mating purposes and to maintain inter-male spacing.

Communication Channels: acoustic

Other Communication Modes: choruses

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; vibrations ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Active throughout the year. Active day or night in warmer months; probably diurnal in colder months.

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Life Cycle

The eggs of the southern cricket frog are fertilized externally while in a freshwater habitat. The sperm enters the egg and soon a gelatinous cover envelopes the egg to protect it. It then develops into a gill-breathing larva, also known as a tadpole, which then metamorphoses into the mature, lung- breathing adult. From beginning to end, 90-100 days (on average) are needed to complete the metamorphosis.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of frogs in the genus Acris is roughly four months. This is because many die as tadpoles. Those few that do survive to adulthood may live for a least a year.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
4 months.

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Reproduction

The process of mating starts with the male emitting a call to attract females. This also functions to let the other males of A. gryllus know to stay out of his territory. The female then chooses her mate who begins what is known as amplexing. This is a method of holding the female around her waist with his forelegs, which then stimulates hormones within the female. Because of this stimulation, the eggs are then released into the water and the male releases his sperm and thus fertilizes the eggs.

Mating System: polygynous

Although the male will call all year long, breeding is usually done in the months of February through October. Once the eggs are fertilized the female will lay the eggs either singly or in groups of 7-10. She will lay clumps of up to 150 eggs at one time and attach them to either to the vegetation beneath the water or along the bottom of shallow pond. Depending on the environmental factors, the eggs can hatch in four days. Then, within the 90-100 days it takes to complete metamorphosis, the tail disappears, the legs form, the mouth enlarges, and the lungs replace the gills.

Breeding interval: Generally, southern cricket frogs breed around 2 to 3 times a year.

Breeding season: February through October

Range number of offspring: 150 (high) .

Range time to independence: 4 (low) days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 90 to 100 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 90 to 100 days.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (External ); oviparous ; sperm-storing

No parental care is given.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement

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Lays clutch of about 150 eggs in spring or summer. May produce >1 clutch each year. Aquatic larvae metamorphose usually in summer.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

At present time, A. gryllus is not threatened.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group

Reviewer/s
Angulo, A. & Garcia Moreno, J.

Contributor/s
Hammerson, G.A.

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification and presumed large population.

History
  • 2004
    Least Concern
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

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Population

Population
Its population is fairly abundant in many parts of its range.

Population Trend
Stable
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Acris gryllus is diurnal. It is especially active when startled. As a strong jumper, it can jump up to 2-3 feet high, covering a horizontal length of 3-4 feet. Diet consists of flying insects.

Vocal call is a rapid succession of metallic "gick gick gick's" like a rattle. Calls begin at a duration of 1 second intervals but begin to accelerate to a maximum of about 6 calls per second. The clicking of two pebbles can induce Acris gryllus to call. A. g. gryllus breeds from February to October, depending on rainfall, while A. g. dorsalis can breed during any month.

Breeding occurs in the water. Females lay eggs one by one and attach them to the rocks and the vegetation of pond bottoms. Eggs are dark brown or black with a tan colored bottom. Tadpoles develop to be 1/2 inch long after about 7-13 weeks. At this point, they are deep-bodied with a lower labium, indentations of a mouth, eyes, and an anus. They are distinguished by a distinct black tipped tail (Behler 1979).

  • Conant, R. and Collins, J. T. (1991). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Behler, J. L. (1979). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York.
  • Cochran, D. M. (1970). The New Field Book of Reptiles and Amphibians. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.
  • Stebbins, R. C. (1954). Amphibians and Reptiles of Western North America. McGraw-Hill, New York.
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Threats

Major Threats
It is not considered to be very threatened but is detrimentally affected by activities that degrade or destroy wetlands, including changes that involve the introduction of exotic fishes.
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Degree of Threat: Medium

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It benefits from most measures that protect wetlands and improve their management.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no known adverse affects of A. gryllus on humans.

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The southern cricket frog consumes pest insects and some which may potentially harm crops.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Southern cricket frog

The southern cricket frog (Acris gryllus) is a small Hylid frog native to the Southeastern United States. It is very similar in appearance and habits to the Northern cricket frog, Acris crepitans, and was considered formerly conspecific (Dickerson 1906). The scientific name Acris is from the Greek word for locust, and the species name gryllus is Latin for cricket (Georgia Wildlife).

Description[edit]

At 0.75–1.5 inches (16–32 mm) in length, Acris gryllus is even smaller than A. crepitans. Other characters that differentiate the southern species are:

Range and habitat[edit]

The southern cricket frog is characteristic of coastal plain bogs, bottomland swamps, ponds, and ditches. It prefers sunny areas, and is usually not found in woodlands. Subspecies Acris gryllus gryllus is found in the Atlantic Coastal Plain from southeastern Virginia through the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, west to the Mississippi River. It is found mostly east of the fall line, but extends into more upland areas of the Piedmont along river valleys. Subspecies Acris gryllus dorsalis is found throughout the Florida peninsula.

Habits[edit]

The southern cricket frog feeds on insects, spiders, and other arthropods. It is active throughout the year in warm weather.

Reproduction[edit]

Male calling and entering amplexus

Breeding is in late spring and summer. The advertisement call of the males is a loud rapid gick, gick, gick. Up to 150 eggs are laid at a time, and more than one mass may be produced in a season (Martof et al. 1980).

Subspecies[edit]

  • Acris gryllus dorsalis (Harlan, 1827) – Florida cricket frog
  • Acris gryllus gryllus (LeConte, 1825) – Coastal plain cricket frog, southern cricket frog

References[edit]

  1. ^ IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (2014). "Acris gryllus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: According to Crother et al. (2008), "two nominal subspecies are occassionally recognized, although whether they are arbitrary or historical units has not been adequately investigated."

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