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Overview

Brief Summary

The Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis) is a medium to large, stocky frog with adult lengths snout to vent from 5.0- 13.5 cm (2.0-5.4 in). The ground color on the dorsum is green to brown; the upper lip stripe is faint or absent in front of the eye; the head and face is usually green. The skin is rougher with more tubercles, and dorsal spots are generally smaller and more numerous than in other leopard frogs. Dorsolateral folds are broken toward the rear of the body, angling inward. The eyes are higher on the head and more upturned than other Arizona leopard frogs. The hind feet are webbed, and males have a swollen and darkened thumb base. In adults (and some juveniles), the rear surface of the thigh is speckled with “salt and pepper” markings, or small dots each densely covered with light-tipped tubercles, usually on a dark ground color. (Stebbins 1985; Brennan and Holycross 2006). The venter is a dull whitish or yellowish color, while gray mottling usually occurs on the throat and sometimes on the chest. The groin and lower abdomen are often yellow. Platz (1988) notes that the “posterior surfaces of thighs have numerous small papilla, each surrounded by cream colored skin...adults have mottled venter and males along southern Arizona border have vestigial oviducts.”

Found in mountain regions of central and southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, south in the Sierra Madre Occidental to Western Jalisco, Mexico from 1066-2408 m (3500-7900 ft), (Platz and Mecham 1979; Sredl et al. 1997).

They are highly aquatic habitat generalists. Adults become active in February (Jennings 1988, 1990), and eggs are laid in spring and sporadically through the summer and fall. Males usually call above water, but may also advertise below water (Degenhardt et al. 1996). Their call consists of a 1-3 second long, low-pitched, hollow snore (Brennan and Holycross 2006). Home ranges for males (dry season mean = 161.0 m2; wet season mean = 375.7 m2) tend to be larger than those for females (dry season mean = 57.1 m2; wet season mean = 92.2 m2). Post-metamorphic Chiricahua leopard frogs are generally inactive from November-February, however, a detailed study of wintertime activity or habitat use has not been done. Although microsites for these hibernacula have not been studied, they likely over-winter near breeding sites. (Sredl, in Lannoo 2005). Life span and age at first reproduction are unknown, although preliminarily, skeletochronology of Chiricahua leopard frogs indicate that they can live =/

  • Arizona Game and Fish Department. 2006. Lithobates chiricahuensis. Unpublished abstract compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ
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Comprehensive Description

Description

This leopard frog attains an adult snout-vent length of 57-95 mm. Its body is fairly stocky, with rugose skin on the back and sides. Dorsolateral folds are present but interrupted posteriorly and displaced medially. The supralabial stripe is incomplete in adults. Vocal sacs are small and external. Grey mottling on the throat may extend onto the chest. The venter is variably melanistic with yellowish pigmentation in the groin region. The posterior of the thigh and the area surrounding the cloaca is covered with small tubercles.

Hear calls at the Western Sound Archive.

  • Platz, J. E. and Mecham, J. S. (1963). ''Rana chiricahuensis.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 347.1-347.2.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is known from Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, and from Mexico (Platz and Mecham 1979). The range of this species is divided into two areas. The first includes northern montane populations along the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau (= Mogollon Rim) in central and eastern Arizona and west-central New Mexico. The second includes southern populations located in the mountains and valleys south of the Gila River in south-eastern Arizona and south-western New Mexico, and extends into Mexico along the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental (Platz and Mecham 1979). Populations in the northern portion of the range might soon be described as a new species (Platz pers. comm.). Elevations of Chiricahua Leopard Frog localities range from 1,000-2,710m asl (Platz and Mecham 1979; Sredl et al. 1997; Smith and Chiszar 2003).
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Distribution and Habitat

Discontinuously distributed in Arizona, New Mexico, Sonora and Chihuahua. Populations occur in the montane areas of the Mogollon Rim and along the eastern base of the Sierra Madre Occidental. Rana chiricahuensis is found at elevations from 1000-2600 m, and occurs in a variety of permanent aquatic habitats which provide adequate depth for predator escape.

  • Platz, J. E. and Mecham, J. S. (1963). ''Rana chiricahuensis.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 347.1-347.2.
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Geographic Range

Presently, Chiricahua leopard frogs inhabit two known ranges. One extends from central Arizona along the Mogollon Rim to western New Mexico.

The other range is from the montane section of southeastern Arizona adjacent to Sonora to the southwest corner of New Mexico and parts of Mexico, including the Sierra Madre, northern Durango, and Chihuahua.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Platz, J., J. Mecham. 1979. Rana chiricahuensis, a new species of leopard frog (Rana pipens complex) from Arizona. Copeia, 3: 383-390.
  • Southwest Center Species Database, 2003. "Chiricahua Leopard Frog" (On-line). Accessed 10/05/04 at http://www.sw-center.org/swcbd/species/lfrog/index.HTML.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: This species occurs from southeastern Arizona (drainages of the Madrean Archipelago and surrounding desert grasslands, south of the Gila River in Cochise, Santa Cruz, Pima, and Graham counties) and extreme southwestern New Mexico (Hidalgo County) in the United States, south along the eastern slope of the Sierra Madre Occidental in Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico. It occurs at elevations of 1,060-2,010m in Arizona (Arizona Game and Fish Department 1995, Degenhardt et al. 1996, Sredel et al. 1997). Its southern range limit is poorly defined due to taxonomic uncertainties. See RANA SP 1 for information on the distribution of northern montane populations that may represent a different species.

The frog formerly known as Rana subaquavocalis is known from areas within a 10-km radius in the Huachuca Mountains; current known range is limited to aquatic habitats in Tinker, Brown, Ramsey, and Miller canyons and several residential ponds in the area, Cochise County, Arizona (Platz 1993, Platz and Grudzien 1993, Platz et al. 1997, Arizona Game and Fish Department 2001, Platz and Grudzien 2003). It currently exists in several canyons on the east side of the Huachuca Mountains (Goldberg et al. 2004) and ranges in elevation from 4,925 to 6,001 ft. (1502 - 1830 m) (Sredl et al. 1997).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

These frogs are similar in appearance to a small, extremely stocky bullfrogs with spots. They are olive to dark green in color, with charcoal spots. The groin features a yellowish pigmentation which may extend onto the posterior and abdomen. Lithobates chiricahuensis reaches a maximum size of 50-135 mm, with males generally smaller than females. Tadpoles are small and dark-colored.

Range length: 50 to 135 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

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Size

Length: 14 cm

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Ecology

Habitat

Sierra Madre Oriental Pine-oak Forests Habitat

This taxon is found in the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests, which exhibit a very diverse community of endemic and specialized species of plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. These high mountains run north to south, beginning in the USA and ending in Mexico. The Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests are a highly disjunctive ecoregion, owing to the fact that they are present only at higher elevations, within a region with considerable expanses of lower elevation desert floor.

The climate is temperate humid on the northeastern slope, and temperate sub-humid on the western slope and highest portions of the mountain range. Pine-oak forest habitat covers most of the region, even though most of the primary forest has been destroyed or degraded. However, the wettest portions house a community of cloud forests that constitute the northernmost patches of this vegetation in Mexico. The forests grow on soils derived from volcanic rocks that have a high content of organic matter. The soils of lower elevations are derived from sedimentary rocks, and some of them are formed purely of limestone. In the northernmost portions of the ecoregion, the forests occur on irregular hummocks that constitute biological "islands" of temperate forest in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. To the south, from Nuevo León southward until Guanajuato and Queretaro, the ecoregion is more continuous along the mainstem of the Sierra Madre Oriental.

Dominant tree species include the pines: the endemic Nelson's Pine (Pinus nelsonii), Mexican Pinyon (P. cembroides), Smooth-bark Mexican Pine (P. pseudostrobus), and Arizona Pine (P. arizonica); and the oaks Quercus castanea and Q. affinis. In mesic environments, the most common species are P. cembroides, and Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana), but in more xeric environments on the west slopes of the mountains, the endemic P. pinceana is more abundant. Gregg's Pine (P. greggii) and Jelecote Pine (P. patula) are endemic.

Many mammalian species wander these rugged hills. Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Puma (Puma concolor), Cliff Chipmunk (Tamias dorsalis), Collared Peccary (Tayassu tajacu), Coati (Nasua narica), Jaguar (Panthera onca) and Coyote (Canis latrans) are a few of the many diverse mammals that inhabit this ecoregion. Some threatened mammals found in the ecoregion are: Bolaños Woodrat (Neotoma palatina VU); Diminutive Woodrat (Nelsonia neotomodon NT), known chiefly from the western versant of the Sierra Madre; Chihuahuan Mouse (Peromyscus polius NT); and Mexican Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris nivalis EN).

A considerable number of reptilian taxa are found in the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests, including three endemic snakes: Ridgenose Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi); Fox´s Mountain Meadow Snake (Adelophis foxi); and the Longtail Rattlesnake (Crotalus stejnegeri VU), restricted to the central Sierra Madre. An endemic skink occurring in the ecoregion is the Fair-headed Skink (Plestiodon callicephalus). The Striped Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus virgatus) is endemic to the ecoregion. The Sonoran Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense VU) is found in the ecoregion and ranges from southwestern New Mexico south to northwestern Chihuahua.

The following anuran taxa occur in the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests: Red-spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Cane Toad (Rhinella marina); Elegant Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne elegans); New Mexico Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata); Sinaloa Toad (Incilius mazatlanensis); Pine Toad (Incilius occidentalis); Southwestern Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus); Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); Plateau Toad (Anaxyrus compactilis); Texas Toad (Anaxyrus speciosus); Sonoran Desert Toad (Incilius alvarius), found only at lower ecoregion elevations here; Rana-ladrona Silbadora (Eleutherodactylus teretistes); Sabinal Frog (Leptodactylus melanonotus); Mexican Leaf Frog (Pachymedusa dacnicolor); Montezuma Leopard Frog (Lithobates montezumae); Yavapai Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Northwest Mexico Leopard Frog (Lithobates magnaocularis); Bigfoot Leopard Frog (Lithobates megapoda), who generally breeds in permanent surface water bodies; Mexican Cascade Frog (Lithobates pustulosus); Tarahumara Frog (Lithobates tarahumarae VU); Western Barking Frog (Craugastor augusti); Lowland Burrowing Frog (Smilisca fodiens); Taylor's Barking Frog (Craugastor occidentalis); Blunt-toed Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus modestus VU), found only at the very lowest elevations of the ecoregion; Shiny Peeping Frog (Eleutherodactylus nitidus); California Chorus Frog (Pseudacris cadaverina); Rio Grande Frog (Lithobates berlandieri); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia); Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii); Dwarf Mexican Treefrog (Tlalocohyla smithii); Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Northern Sheep Frog (Hypopachus variolosus); Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis). There are three salamanders found in the ecoregion: the endemic Sacramento Mountains Salamander (Aneides hardii), found only in very high montane reaches above 2400 meters; Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum); and the Tarahumara Salamander (Ambystoma rosaceum).

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Arizona Mountains Forests Habitat

This taxon is found in the Arizona Mountain Forests, which extend from the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona to south of the Mogollon Plateau into portions of southwestern Mexico and eastern Arizona, USA. The species richness in this ecoregion is moderate, with vertebrate taxa numbering 375 species. The topography consists chiefly of steep foothills and mountains, but includes some deeply dissected high plateaus. Soil types have not been well defined; however, most soils are entisols, with alfisols and inceptisols in upland areas. Stony terrain and rock outcrops occupy large areas on the mountains and foothills.

The Transition Zone in this region (1980 to 2440 m in elevation) comprises a strong Mexican fasciation, including Chihuahua Pine (Pinus leiophylla) and Apache Pine (P. engelmannii) and unique varieties of Ponderosa Pine (P. ponderosa var. arizonica). Such forests are open and park-like and contain many bird species from Mexico seldom seen in the U.S.. The Canadian Zone (above 2000 m) includes mostly Rocky Mountain species of mixed-conifer communities such as Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmanni), Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa), and Corkbark Fir (A. lasiocarpa var. arizonica). Dwarf Juniper (Juniperus communis) is an understory shrubby closely associated with spruce/fir forests. Exposed sites include Chihuahua White Pine (Pinus strobiformis), while disturbed north-facing sites consists primarily of Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) or Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides).

There are a variety of mammalian species found in this ecoregion, including the endemic Arizona Gray Squirrel (Sciurus arizonensis), an herbivore who feeds on a wide spectrum of berries, bark and other vegetable material. Non-endemic mammals occurring in the ecoregion include: the Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys spectabilis NT); Desert Pocket Gopher (Geomys arenarius NT). In addition, there is great potential for restoring Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus) and Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) populations in the area because of its remoteness and juxtaposition to other ecoregions where these species were formerly prevalent.

There are few amphibians found in the Arizona mountain forests. Anuran species occurring here are: Red-spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Southwestern Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus); New Mexico Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata); Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens); Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis VU); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia), a montane anuran found at the northern limit of its range in this ecoregion; Boreal Chorus Frog (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata); and Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor). The Jemez Mountains Salamander (Plethodon neomexicanus NT) is an ecoregion endemic, found only in the Jemez Mountains of Los Alamos and Sandoval counties, New Mexico. Another salamander occurring in the ecoregion is the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum).

A number of reptilian taxa occur in the Arizona mountains forests, including: Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum NT), often associated with cacti or desert scrub type vegetation; Narrow-headed Garter Snake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus), a near-endemic found chiefly in the Mogollon Rim area; Sonoran Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense NT).

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Chihuahuan Desert Habitat

This taxon is found in the Chihuahuan Desert, which is one of the most biologically diverse arid regions on Earth. This ecoregion extends from within the United States south into Mexico. This desert is sheltered from the influence of other arid regions such as the Sonoran Desert by the large mountain ranges of the Sierra Madres. This isolation has allowed the evolution of many endemic species; most notable is the high number of endemic plants; in fact, there are a total of 653 vertebrate taxa recorded in the Chihuahuan Desert.  Moreover, this ecoregion also sustains some of the last extant populations of Mexican Prairie Dog, wild American Bison and Pronghorn Antelope.

The dominant plant species throughout the Chihuahuan Desert is Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata). Depending on diverse factors such as type of soil, altitude, and degree of slope, L. tridentata can occur in association with other species. More generally, an association between L. tridentata, American Tarbush (Flourensia cernua) and Viscid Acacia (Acacia neovernicosa) dominates the northernmost portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. The meridional portion is abundant in Yucca and Opuntia, and the southernmost portion is inhabited by Mexican Fire-barrel Cactus (Ferocactus pilosus) and Mojave Mound Cactus (Echinocereus polyacanthus). Herbaceous elements such as Gypsum Grama (Chondrosum ramosa), Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and Hairy Grama (Chondrosum hirsuta), among others, become dominant near the Sierra Madre Occidental. In western Coahuila State, Lecheguilla Agave (Agave lechuguilla), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), Purple Prickly-pear (Opuntia macrocentra) and Rainbow Cactus (Echinocereus pectinatus) are the dominant vascular plants.

Because of its recent origin, few warm-blooded vertebrates are restricted to the Chihuahuan Desert scrub. However, the Chihuahuan Desert supports a large number of wide-ranging mammals, such as the Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana), Robust Cottontail (Sylvilagus robustus EN); Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Grey Fox (Unocyon cineroargentinus), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Collared Peccary or Javelina (Pecari tajacu), Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni), Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), Kangaroo Rats (Dipodomys sp.), pocket mice (Perognathus spp.), Woodrats (Neotoma spp.) and Deer Mice (Peromyscus spp). With only 24 individuals recorded in the state of Chihuahua Antilocapra americana is one of the most highly endangered taxa that inhabits this desert. The ecoregion also contains a small wild population of the highly endangered American Bison (Bison bison) and scattered populations of the highly endangered Mexican Prairie Dog (Cynomys mexicanus), as well as the Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus).

The Chihuahuan Desert herpetofauna typifies this ecoregion.Several lizard species are centered in the Chihuahuan Desert, and include the Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum); Texas Banded Gecko (Coleonyx brevis), often found under rocks in limestone foothills; Reticulate Gecko (C. reticulatus); Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus); several species of spiny lizards (Scelopoprus spp.); and the Western Marbled Whiptail (Cnemidophorus tigris marmoratus). Two other whiptails, the New Mexico Whiptail (C. neomexicanus) and the Common Checkered Whiptail (C. tesselatus) occur as all-female parthenogenic clone populations in select disturbed habitats.

Representative snakes include the Trans-Pecos Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis), Texas Blackhead Snake (Tantilla atriceps), and Sr (Masticophis taeniatus) and Neotropical Whipsnake (M. flagellum lineatus). Endemic turtles include the Bolsón Tortoise (Gopherus flavomarginatus), Coahuilan Box Turtle (Terrapene coahuila) and several species of softshell turtles. Some reptiles and amphibians restricted to the Madrean sky island habitats include the Ridgenose Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi), Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (C. pricei), Northern Cat-eyed Snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis), Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus jarrovii), and Canyon Spotted Whiptail (Cnemidophorus burti).

There are thirty anuran species occurring in the Chihuahuan Desert: Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Rana chircahuaensis); Red Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus); Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans); Rio Grande Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus cystignathoides); Cliff Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus marnockii); Spotted Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus guttilatus); Tarahumara Barking Frog (Craugastor tarahumaraensis); Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia); Montezuma Leopard Frog (Lithobates montezumae); Brown's Leopard Frog (Lithobates brownorum); Yavapai Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Western Barking Frog (Craugastor augusti); Mexican Cascade Frog (Lithobates pustulosus); Lowland Burrowing Frog (Smilisca fodiens); New Mexico Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata); Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons); Pine Toad (Incilius occidentalis); Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii); Plateau Toad (Anaxyrus compactilis); Texas Toad (Anaxyrus speciosus); Dwarf Toad (Incilius canaliferus); Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); Eastern Green Toad (Anaxyrus debilis); Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius valliceps); and Longfoot Chirping Toad (Eleutherodactylus longipes VU). The sole salamander occurring in the Chihuahuan Desert is the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum).

Common bird species include the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), and the rare Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus). Geococcyx californianus), Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostra), Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata), Scott’s Oriole (Icterus parisorum), Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata), Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), Worthen’s Sparrow (Spizella wortheni), and Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus). In addition, numerous raptors inhabit the Chihuahuan Desert and include the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) and the Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in a wide variety of permanent and semi-permanent aquatic systems in oak, mixed oak and pine woodlands, chaparral, grassland, and even desert habitats (Stebbins 1985b). The perennial or near-perennial habitats from which they are known or likely to have occurred and reproduced include springs, cienegas, earthen cattle tanks, small creeks, and slack water of main-stem rivers (Sredl and Jennings 2005). Many habitats are modified or artificial aquatic systems (Sredl et al. 1997; Sredl and Saylor 1998). Deep areas, root masses, and undercut banks are used when escaping capture. Habitat heterogeneity is likely important. The frogs will move into newly created suitable habitat rapidly, if near to occupied habitat (Sredl and Jennings 2005).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Permanent aquatic habitats with well-oxygenated water and aquatic vegetation are necessary for the survival of this species. It usually occurs at altitudes of 1,000-2,600 m. Lithobates chiricahuensis inhabits a wide variety of springs, streams, lakes, and ponds, as well as man-made habitats. The Nature Conservatory's Mimbres River Preserve is currently the home of one of the largest populations of this species.

Range elevation: 1000 to 2600 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

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Comments: This species occurs in a wide variety of habitats at a wide range of altitudes in pine and pine-oak forests with permanent water ponds of moderate depth as well as montane streams. It is highly aquatic. It breeds in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, ranging from stock ponds, reservoirs, and lakes to spring-fed streams (Jennings and Scott 1993, USFWS 2000).

The following information refers to the frog formerly known as Rana subaquavocalis:

Habitats are found in pine-oak, oak woodland, and semi-desert grassland areas of the Huachuca Mountains. Vegetation at sites is variable but includes horsetail (Equisetum spp.), spikerush (Eleocharis spp.), cattail (Typha spp.), watercress (Rorippa), monkey flower (Mimulus), and grasses. Emergent vegetation and root masses provide cover sites (M. Sredl unpublished data) (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2001). Most occupied habitats are modified or artificial aquatic systems (Sredl et al. 1997). Ponds, streams, plunge pools are occupied.

Adults and several tadpoles in upper Brown Canyon were found in a plunge pool (elev. 1675 m). Most of the frogs in Ramsey Canyon occupy a ground-level concrete tank (14 m X 14 m) approximately 1.3 m deep, fed by the natural stream adjacent to the tank; frogs also occur at various plunge pools along a 1000 m length of the stream, starting with plunge pools adjacent to the visitors' center and continuing above the tank population. Adults and larvae were observed at a small excavation in rock (a water pocket 2 m in diameter) 2 km below the entrance to Ramsey Canyon (Platz 1993). Occurs also in an earthen stock tank (Platz and Grudzien 1993). Males call while submerged, as may males of certain other RANA species.

Eggs are laid in spherical masses, attached to submerged vegetation, so that the egg mass is held near the surface of the water (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2001).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

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.

Although detailed study of movements has not been done, marked frogs have moved several hundred
meters within Ramsey Canyon (M. Sredl, unpublished data) (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2001).

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

This species probably consumes a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates which are caught by the frog's long, quickly extendable tongue.

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

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

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Comments: Adults mainly invertivorous. Larvae eat algae, organic debris, plant tissue, and minute organisms in water.

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

These frogs are both predators of many invertebrate species and prey of other frogs and fish.

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Predation

Bullfrogs and fish are known predators of L. chiricahuensis.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80

Comments: USFWS (2002) reported the following:

Painter (2000) listed 41 sites at which Chiricahua leopard frogs were found from 1994 to 1999. Thirty-three of these are north of Interstate 10 (northern populations, RANA SP 1) and eight are in the southwestern corner of the State (southern populations, R. CHIRICAHUENSIS). Thirty-one of the 41 populations were verified extant during 1998 and 1999 (Painter 2000). However, during May through August 2000, the Chiricahua leopard frog was found extant at only 8 of 34 of the sites (C. Painter, pers. comm. 2000). Probably few if any unknown populations of Chiricahua leopard frogs occur in southwestern New Mexico (USFWS 2002).

Sredl et al. (1997) reported that during 1990 through 1997 Chiricahua leopard frogs were found at 61 sites in southeastern Arizona (southern populations) and 15 sites in central and east-central Arizona (northern populations). As a means to make the Arizona and New Mexico status information more comparable, the number of sites at which Chiricahua leopard frogs were observed from 1994 through 2001 in Arizona were tallied. Based on available data, particularly Sredl et al. (1997), Rosen et al. (1996b), and USFWS files, Chiricahua leopard frogs were observed at 87 sites in Arizona from 1994 to 2001, including 21 northern sites and 66 southern sites. Many of these sites have not been revisited in recent years; however, evidence suggests some populations have recently been extirpated in the Galiuro and Chiricahua mountains, while others, most notably in the Buckskin Hills area of the Coconino National Forest, have been recently (2000, 2001) discovered. In 2000, the species was also documented for the first time in the Baboquivari Mountains, Pima County, Arizona (E. Wallace, pers. comm. 2000), extending the range of the species approximately 19 km to the west. Probably not many undetected populations exist in the wetlands of southeastern Arizona (USFWS 2002).

Including northern montane populations (Rana sp. 1), the species is known historically from 231 locations in Arizona, 182 sites in New Mexico, and about a dozen sites in Mexico (USFWS 2002).

The frog formerly known as Rana subaquavocalis is extant at four sites, with regular successful breeding occurring at two sites (Platz et al. 1997). Known number of breeding sites has been reduced to one (E. Wallace, pers. comm., cited by Platz and Grudzien 2003). Through intensive conservation actions, including translocations, this frog is currently found in five canyons on the east side of the Huachuca Mountains (Goldberg et al. 2004).

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Global Abundance

10,000 - 100,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but likely exceeds 10,000. Local abundance appears to fluctuate greatly. Populations in stock tanks generally include fewer than 100 individuals.

"Rana subaquavocalis:" As of the mid-1990s, the total number of adults at the two known breeding sites was not more than 120 (1994 End. Sp. Tech. Bull. 19(5):18). In 1995, population was augmented by the release of captive-reared juveniles. Through September 1995, there were 19 individuals in the concrete pond in Ramsey Canyon (H. Riley, pers. comm., cited by Platz and Grudzien 2003), but none were observed there in the summer of 1996 (Platz and Grudzien 2003). Since then, and despite reintroduction efforts, no breeding activity has been observed at the concrete pond in Ramsey Canyon (Platz and Grudzien 2003). In 1997, the total adult population probably was less than 100 (Platz et al. 1997). No population estimate for any site has exceeded 50 adults (Platz and Grudzien 2003).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Males use a trilling, snore-like mating call to attract females. The call is distinct from other frog species in the same region.

Communication Channels: acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Inactive in cold temperatures.

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Life Cycle

Development

Eggs form clumped, spherical masses which are usually suspended on the surface of water, or on vegetation growing in water. Tadpoles undergo metamorphosis 2-9 months after hatching. After metamorphosis, sexual maturity is reached in 2-3 years. This species can live up 14 years in the wild.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

These frogs can live up to 14 years in the wild.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
14 (high) years.

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Reproduction

These frogs breed throughout June-August at elevations above 1,800 m, or during spring to late summer below 1,800 m. Permanent water is required for their reproduction. Eggs form clumped, spherical masses which are usually suspended on the surface of water, or on vegetation growing in water.

Breeding season: June - September

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 to 3 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 to 3 years.

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

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The following information refers to the frog formerly known as Rana subaquavocalis:

Males vocalize from at least mid -March through mid-July (Platz 1993). Egg masses have been recorded from mid-March through early October (AGFD, unpublished data). Mating seems to begin once water temperatures have reached at least 10 C (50 F), and oviposition may be correlated with temperatures rather than rainfall. Eggs hatch in about 14 days in the wild (Platz 1997). In captivity, eggs hatch in about 10 days when held at 23-25 C (73-77 F) (M. Demlong, unpublished data). Larvae metamorphose in the year they were oviposited or may overwinter as tadpoles (Platz and Grudzien 1993, Platz et al. 1997). Larvae metamorphose in as few as 100 days in captivity, but frequently take 160 to 200 days (M. Demlong, unpublished data). Platz (1997) suggested that sexual maturity is reached rather late in life, at approximately 6 years postmetamorphosis, but captive-reared frogs at the Phoenix Zoo and released in Miller Canyon produced egg masses one year after metamorphosis. Some individuals live at least 10 years after metamorphosis (Platz and Grudzien 1993, Platz et al. 1997). May have a lek breeding system, but further study is needed (Platz and Grudzien 1993).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2ace

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2004

Assessor/s
Georgina Santos-Barrera, Geoffrey Hammerson, Michael Sredl

Reviewer/s
Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Vulnerable because of an observed population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations, inferred from a shrinkage in distribution due to habitat destruction and degradation, and the effects of exotic species, disease, and unknown factors. The generation length is estimated to be five years.
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This species is a candidate for a listing as an endangered species by the U.S. Federal Government. Chiricahua leopard frog populations have declined dramatically in recent years due to a variety of causes. One primary cause is habitat destruction due to the drainage of water from aquatic habitats, damming, river channeling, and grazing. The introduction of exotic frogs and predatory fish has also hurt this species. In addition, increasing levels of UV radiation due to the loss of the Earth's ozone layer have been shown to damage the eggs of this and other frog species.

US Federal List: threatened

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Range extends from Arizona and New Mexico into Mexico; declining in the U.S., due apparently in part to effects of habitat loss and degradation, introduced bullfrogs and fishes, and possibly environmental contaminants and disease, but the causes of the decline are not fully understood; trend and status in Mexico are poorly known.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

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Population

Population
It is rare in suitable habitat. It is known from several dozen locations in Arizona and New Mexico, in addition to others elsewhere in the range. Local abundance appears to fluctuate greatly. Populations in stock tanks generally include fewer than 100 individuals. Historically, it occurred at 212 sites in Arizona, 170 in New Mexico, and 12-13 in Mexico (USFWS 2000). These numbers pertain to both R. chiricahuensis and the undescribed new species from the northern portion of the range. It is now absent from many historical localities and numerous mountain ranges, valleys, and drainages within its former range (USFWS 2000). Where still present, populations often are few, small, and widely scattered (USFWS 2000). Possibly some disappearances from historical sites represent natural fluctuations rather than long-term declines caused by human impacts, but in most areas disappearances appear to reflect real, on-going declines (USFWS 2000).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 50-90%

Comments: Now absent from many historical localities and numerous mountain ranges, valleys, and drainages within former range (USFWS 2002); has undergone regional extirpation where formerly well distributed (USFWS 2002); including Rana sp. 1 (northern populations of R. chiricahuensis), now absent from 75% of historical range (USFWS 2002). Where still present, populations often are few, small, and widely scattered (USFWS 2000). Possibly some disappearances from historical sites represent natural fluctuations rather than long-term declines caused by human impacts, but in most areas disappearances appear to reflect real, on-going declines (USFWS 2000, 2002). Status unknown in Sonora (A. Villarreal L., pers. comm., 1997).

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Threats

Major Threats
The most important threats are disease (chytridiomycosis, documented in this species as early as 1992), non-native predators and competitors (bullfrogs, sport fish, crayfish), effects of small, isolated populations, loss of aquatic habitat through drying, damming, diverting, or siltation, and heavy grazing (USFWS 2002).
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Degree of Threat: A : Very threatened throughout its range communities directly exploited or their composition and structure irreversibly threatened by man-made forces, including exotic species

Comments: Known threats include habitat alteration, destruction, and fragmentation, due to water diversions, dredging, livestock grazing, mining, degraded water quality, and groundwater pumping); predation by non-native organisms (e.g., centrarchids, bullfrogs, tiger salamanders, crayfish); disease; and problems associated with small population numbers and size (see USFWS 2000 and 2002 for further details).

The few small populations in a dynamic environment make this species particularly vulnerable to extirpation, especially since the more permanent water sources are widely occupied by exotic species. Postmetamorphic death syndrome recently has been identified as a cause of population decline in New Mexico. Extirpations have occurred in sites that appear to be nearly pristine; mechanisms of decline are not well understood but may include chytridiomycosis (USFWS 2002). Very threatened in Sonora due to habitat destruction and the introduction of the nonnative bullfrog (A. Villarreal L., pers. comm., 1997).

The following refers to the frog formerly known as Rana subaquavocalis:

Elimination of beavers, which create favorable habitat, and diversion of water for irrigation, likely contributed to the decline of populations that may have existed in the San Pedro River (about 8 km east of Ramsey Canyon) (Platz and Grudzien 2003).

Threats include natural flooding (which could destroy or degrade breeding sites), and exotic competitors (e.g., bullfrog), predators, or pathogens. The few, small populations in a dynamic environment make the species particularly vulnerable to extinction. The Ramsey Canyon and Brown Canyon populations probably are isolated and may not function as part of a single metapopulation.

In early summer of 1996, a severe drought caused the Barchas Ranch duck pond to dry out, eliminating it as suitable breeding habitat (Platz and Grudzien 2003). In 2000, a dead frog in Ramsey Canyon was documented to have a chytrid fungal infection (M. Sredl, pers. comm., cited by Platz and Grudzien 2003). At two sites, Tinker Pond and Ramsey Canyon, chytrid fungus has been found in dead frogs (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2001). This fungus has been implicated in the declines of amphibians around the world (Berger et al. 1998) and may play a role in the decline of R. subaquavocalis.

Extirpation of two populations was associated with low levels of heterozygosity (Platz and Grudzien 2003).

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It occurs in Coconino, Tonto, Apache, Sitgreaves, Gila, and Coronado national forests (Jennings 1995; Sredl et al. 1997). Both the northern and southern populations of R. chiricahuensis are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2002, and a recovery team was established in 2003. Conservation actions will include both short-term interim actions to prevent further deterioration of the species’ status, and longer-term planning for eventual recovery of the species. Arizona Game and Fish Commission Order 41 prohibit the collection of this species from the wild in Arizona. It is included as Wildlife of Special Concern in Arizona (Arizona Game and Fish Department 1996). Priority research topics include identification of the importance of disease, pesticides and other contaminants, climate change, UV radiation, fire management, and possibly other threats to the status and recovery potential of the Chiricahua Leopard Frog. Also, research is needed on key aspects of the frog’s status, distribution, and ecology.
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Management Requirements: See USFWS (2000) for information on management programs.

The following information refers to the frog formerly known as Rana subaquavocalis:

Management needs include habitat restoration and removal of non-native species; captive rearing of larvae and release of juveniles began in 1995.

Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) is attempting to mitigate threats and enhance populations of Ramsey Canyon leopard frogs through captive rearing programs and translocations in the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona (Sredl et al. 2002).

Eggs and larvae have been collected and reared in captivity to increase initial survival rates. The captive-reared frogs and larvae have been released at several sites including Ramsey Canyon, the Barchas Ranch, and Miller Canyon (Arizona Game and Fish Department 2001).

An attempt to eradicate bullfrogs from Lower Garden Canyon Pond was unsuccessful (Sredl et al. 2002).

Biological Research Needs: Determine phylogenetic relationships among northern populations (Rana sp. 1) and southern populations (Jennings 1995). Determine habitat requirements and life history.

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Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: A population survey to evaluate the current status of this species is needed in order to define the real geographic range since discontinuous populations have been recorded in Mexico. Most occupied sites in the U.S. are in the Coronado National Forest in Arizona and the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. The species is on the U.S. Forest Service sensitive species list; this may afford little protection. This species is listed as "Threatened" (Amenazada) by the Mexican government.In the United States, roughly one-half of the sites occupied by Rana chiricahuensis (sensu lato) are managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFWS 2002). Species is on U.S. Forest Service sensitive species list; this may afford little protection.

The frog formerly known as Rana subaquavocalis is protected in TNC's Ramsey Canyon Preserve. As of 1997, the Coronado National Forest was finalizing acquisition of the Brown Canyon site. A conservation agreement among landowners and state and federal agencies was being implemented in late 1997; it provides for captive breeding and reintroduction, acquisition of habitat, and habitat and population surveys (Federal Register, 19 September 1997).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

This species does not adversely affect humans in any significant way.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

This species is not of great economic importance to humans.

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Wikipedia

Chiricahua leopard frog

The Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis syn. Lithobates chiricahuensis)[2] is a species of frog in the family Ranidae, the true frogs. It is native to Mexico and Arizona and New Mexico in the United States. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, rivers, intermittent rivers, swamps, freshwater lakes, intermittent freshwater lakes, freshwater marshes, intermittent freshwater marshes, freshwater springs, ponds, and open excavations. It is threatened by habitat loss and chytrid fungus to such an extent that it has been eliminated from 80% of its former habitat.[3] The Phoenix Zoo, Arizona's Department of Game and Fish, and the USFWS are trying to mitigate threats through captive breeding and reintroduction efforts.[4]

Phylogeny[edit]

A 2011 genetic analysis study provided evidence that the northwestern Mogollon Rim population of the L. chiricahuensis are indistinguishable from specimens of the extinct Vegas Valley leopard frog (Lithobates fisheri).[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Santos-Barrera, G., et al. 2004. Lithobates chiricahuensis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. Downloaded on 23 November 2013.
  2. ^ Pauly, G. B., et al. (2009). Taxonomic freedom and the role of official lists of species names. Herpetologica 65(2), 115–28.
  3. ^ Ellis, R. (2004). No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 187. ISBN 0-06-055804-0. 
  4. ^ Phoenix Zoo marks restoration of 10,000th frog to the wild. National Geographic (September 1, 2010).
  5. ^ Hekkala, E. R., et al. (2011). Resurrecting an extinct species: archival DNA, taxonomy, and conservation of the Vegas Valley leopard frog. Conservation Genetics 12(5), 1379-85.

Further reading[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Populations in southeastern Arizona, portions of southwestern New Mexico, and the Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico are morphologically distinct from montane populations in west-central New Mexico and along the Mogollon Rim in central and eastern Arizona; the latter are here regarded as a distinct species, Rana sp. 1 (Sredel et al. 1997).

"Rana subaquavocalis," here included in Rana (Lithobates) chiricahuensis, formerly was regarded as a distinct species. Goldberg et al. (2004) used mtDNA sequences to investigate the phylogenetic relationship of ubaquavocalis and chiricahuensis, based on 39 samples of subaquavocalis and 53 samples of chiricahuensis from localities throughout their Arizona range. They found two distinct lineages of chiricahuensis, one on the Mogollon Rim of central Arizona and one in southern Arizona. "Rana subaquavocalis" samples were on a short branch within the southern Arizona clade of chiricahuensis. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that chiricahuensis and subaquavocalis are conspecific. Based on this evidence, Crother (2008) and Frost (2009) regarded subaquavolcalis as a synonym of chiricahuensis.

Goldberg et al. (2004) concluded that the two chiricahuensis lineages could represent two distinct species, but they suggested that a detailed examination of behavioral, ecological, and morphological differences between the groups be conducted before this is determined.


Populations from southern Chihuahua and Durango to Aguascalientes, reported to be R. chiricahuensis, may represent another species (see USFWS 2000, 2002).

This species hybridizes with R. yavapaiensis, the lowland leopard frog, and R. pipiens, the northern leopard frog, in areas where their ranges overlap (Green and Delisle 1985, Stebbins 1985).

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