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Montana Field Guides

Boreal Chorus Frog - Pseudacris maculata

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:


 

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Copyright by Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network
State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Species is apparently secure and not at risk of extirpation or facing significant threats in all or most of its range.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 05/03/2018
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Range Extent

    ScoreG - 200,000-2,500,000 km squared (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)

    Comment300,680 square Kilometers from Natural Heritage Program range maps

    Long-term Trend

    ScoreE - Relatively Stable (±25% change)

    CommentAlthough degradation and loss of habitat have occurred, its flexibility in both breeding sites and habitat have allowed it to continue to thrive in developed areas and it is unlikely that populations have changed much since European arrival.

    Short-term Trend

    ScoreE - Stable. Population, range, area occupied, and/or number or condition of occurrences unchanged or remaining within ±10% fluctuation

    CommentPopulations appear stable based on regular detections during lentic surveys conducted over the last 15 years.

    Threats

    ScoreH - Unthreatened. Threats if any, when considered in comparison with natural fluctuation and change, are minimal or very localized, not leading to significant loss or degradation of populations or area even over a few decades’ time. (Severity, scope, and/or immediacy of threat considered Insignificant.)

    CommentNo operational threats in the next 15-20 years identified

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    ScoreC - Not Intrinsically Vulnerable. Species matures quickly, reproduces frequently, and/or has high fecundity such that populations recover quickly (< 5 years or 2 generations) from decreases in abundance; or species has high dispersal capability such that extirpated populations soon become reestablished through natural recolonization (unaided by humans).

    CommentThis species has high fecundity, matures quickly, and disperses readily

    Environmental Specificity

    ScoreD - Broad. Generalist. Broad-scale or diverse (general) habitat(s) or abiotic and/or biotic factors are used or required by the species, with all key requirements common in the generalized range of the species in the area of interest. If the preferred food(s) or breeding/nonbreeding microhabitat(s) become unavailable, the species switches to an alternative with no resulting decline in numbers of individuals or number of breeding attempts.

    CommentAlthough restricted to lentic sites for breeding, species is found across a range of habitats

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 3.5 + 0 (geographic distribution) + 0.5 (environmental specificity) + 0 (short-term trend) + 0.75 (threats) = 4.75

 
General Description
EGGS:
Although individual females are known to lay 137 to 793 (mean = 455, SE = 47, N = 16 at a site in Colorado) eggs at a time, eggs are usually deposited in several clutches a few centimeters in size. Clusters contain 7 to 190 eggs and are usually less than 25.4mm (1 inch) across and attached to submerged vegetation (Pack 1920, Pettus and Angleton 1967). Each ovum is black above, white to cream below and is surrounded by a single layer of jelly (Maxell et al. 2009). Ovum diameters are 0.8 to 1.3 mm (Pettus and Angleton 1967, Maxell et al. 2009), but total egg diameters, including the jelly layer may vary from 4.0 to 6.0 mm (Maxell et al. 2009).

LARVAE:
Eyes outside the outline of the body when viewed from above. Mottled with brown and gold dorsally and pale gold to clear ventrally (Maxell et al. 2009). The dorsal tail fin is highly arched and dendritically pigmented with gold while the ventral tail fin is a uniform width and transparent (Maxell et al. 2009). Total length of 4.8-52 mm (Pettus and Angleton 1967, Hammerson 1999). Tadpoles are brown/bronze with eyes located on the sides of the head.

JUVENILES AND ADULTS:
The ends of the toes have minute disks or toe pads and there is little webbing between any of the toes (Maxell et al. 2009). A dark line extends from the snout through to the groin. Basic coloration varies; dorsal color is cream, gray, brown, or green. Typically, there are three green, brown, or gray stripes or rows of spots dorsally and one row laterally (Smith 1956, Corn 1980a, Maxell et al. 2009). Cream colored ventrally, possibly with a few small black spots. Snout-vent length (SVL) of 7.0-38 mm (Blair 1951, Pettus and Angleton 1967).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Except for the Pacific Treefrog (Pseudacris regilla), adults of all other frogs and toads in Montana are much larger and have webbing between the toes of their hind feet. Similarly, the eyes of the tadpoles for all the other frogs and toads in Montana do not stick out beyond the body outline when viewed from above, excluding the Pacific Treefrog (Werner et al. 2004). However, the geographic range of the Pacific Treefrog does not overlap with the geographic range of the Boreal Chorus Frog.

Species Range
Montana Range

Year-round

Western Hemisphere Range

 


Range Comments
Although there is debate about whether subspecific or specific status should be assigned, most authorities recognize four geographic varieties of Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) which range from Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico and from New Jersey to western Idaho at elevations up to 3,720 m (12,200 ft) (Hedges 1986, Platz and Forester 1988, Platz 1989, Conant and Collins 1998, Hammerson 1999). Only one variety, the Boreal Chorus Frog, Pseudacris maculata, (full species recognition) or Pseudacris triseriata maculata (subspecies recognition), is recognized as occurring in Montana. Individuals in Montana have been documented east of the Continental Divide and the Big Hole Valley.

Maximum elevation: 2,841 m (9,320 ft) just east southeast of Black Butte in southern Madison County (Matt Bell; MTNHP 2008).


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 5782

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Individuals may commonly undergo seasonal migrations of 250 meters, but apparently do not normally disperse more than 700 meters from their natal sites (Spencer 1964b).

Habitat
Typically found within 100 meters of permanent or temporary waters in grasslands, shrublands, or forest parklands (Kramer 1974; Roberts and Lewin 1979). Adults are freeze tolerant and are presumed to overwinter in underground rodent burrows, underneath thick vegetation or debris or in the crevices of rocks and logs (Whitaker 1971, Swanson et al. 1996). Inhabits marshes, ponds, small lakes in all life zones including lower alpine (Baxter and Stone 1980). Boreal Chorus Frogs are regularly found in the water only during the breeding period in spring. In eastern Montana, they breed in temporary ponds and small lakes surrounded by prairie (or occasionally open forest) habitats. When not breeding, individuals are generally found in damp grassy/marshy areas or damp forests near water, but they have been found up to 500 m from water (Nussbaum et al. 1983, Hammerson 1982).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: mtnhp.org/requests) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2012.  Mammals of Montana.  Second edition.  Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana.  429 pp.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Tadpoles feed on algae (Whitaker 1971). Adults and juveniles feed on a variety of arthropods such as ants, spiders, flies, beetles, and aphids (Nussbaum et al. 1983). They have also been known to feed on their own shed skins and vegetation (Moore and Strickland 1954, Whitaker 1971).

Ecology
Most common amphibian noted in north-central Montana. In high mountains, males may not breed until 2nd year and females at 3rd year. Survival to adulthood may be only around 1% in mountain populations (Hammerson 1982).

Reproductive Characteristics
Breeding takes place in late March to early June in Wyoming (Hammerson 1982) or in late April to June in a variety of shallow waterbodies (Cope 1879, Roberts and Lewin 1979, Maxell et al. 2009). Breeding sites are in shallow, warm, fishless waters which may or may not have emergent vegetation (Maxell et al. 2009). They announce their presence this time of year by calling frequently at night and sporadically during the day. Noted singing in early April in southwest Idaho and as late as early July (Nussbaum et al. 1983).

Females deposit eggs on emergent vegetation at depths usually less than 20 cm in ponds that do not have a closed canopy (Livezey 1952, Maxell et al. 2009) Eggs usually hatch in 5 to 14 days and tadpoles metamorphose in two or three months during mid-summer (Livezey 1952, Nussbaum et al. 1983). Metamorphosis observed in late June to early August across eastern Montana (Mosimann and Rabb 1952).

Management
The following was taken from the Status and Conservation section for the Boreal Chorus Frog account in Maxell et al. 2009

With larvae being found in most temporary standing waterbodies and in shallower portions of permanent standing water bodies that lack fish Boreal Chorus Frogs may be the most widely distributed and common amphibian species at low to mid elevations east of the Continental Divide. Risk factors relevant to the viability of populations of this species are likely to include all the general risk factors described above except for timber harvest and harvest and commerce. Individual studies that specifically identify risk factors or other issues relevant to the conservation of Boreal Chorus Frog include the following. (1) Sanders (1970a) studied the sensitivities of one-week old tadpoles of the Boreal Chorus Frog to 16 pesticides and herbicides and found most of them to result in high rates of mortality when exposed for 48 or 96 hours. Powell et al. (1982) found that the insecticide fenthion formulated with either water or diesel oil had not bioaccumulated in adult Boreal Chorus Frogs three days after exposure at commonly applied levels. However, as noted by the authors it may be unlikely that the adults would bioaccumulate the pesticide because individuals would not be likely to have eaten insects that had been exposed (frogs do not normally eat dead prey). The authors warn that tadpoles may be more sensitive to bioaccumulation because they ingest algae that would likely be contaminated. The relationship of the inactive and active ingredients in these pesticides to commonly applied pesticides in Montana is not known, but it is likely that both pesticides and herbicides may represent lethal and/or sublethal threats to Boreal Chorus Frog populations. (2) Hecnar (1995) found that acute and chronic toxic effects of ammonium nitrate were observed in tadpoles of the Boreal Chorus Frog at concentrations that are commonly exceeded in agricultural areas. Acute exposures to ammonium nitrate fertilizers at 20 mg/L for 96 hours resulted in 50 percent mortality and significant weight loss in those individuals that survived. Chronic exposures to 10 mg/L for 100 days resulted in significantly lower survivorship. (3) Corn et al. (1997) found that Boreal Chorus Frogs were commonly breeding at sites where trout were present but noted that tadpoles of the species are often only found in heavily vegetated shallow water where they are not likely to be exposed to fish predation. (4) Corn et al. (1989) found that embryos from a clutch of Boreal Chorus Frog eggs did not suffer significantly higher mortality rates until pH dropped below 5.2, but had an LC50 at pH 4.8, and suffered 100% mortality at pH 4.6. However, at the larval stage, Kiesecker (1996) found that survival rate, growth rate, mass, and time to metamorphosis did not change when pH was at 4.5, 5.5, 6.0, and 7.0.

References
  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Baxter, G.T. and M.D. Stone. 1980. Amphibians and reptiles of Wyoming. Wyoming Game & Fish Department, Cheyenne. 137 pp.
    • Blair, A.P. 1951. Note on the herpetology of the Elk Mountains, Colorado. Copeia 1951: 239-240.
    • Conant, R. and J.T. Collins 1998. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of eastern and central North America. Third edition, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston, MA. 616 p.
    • Cope, E. D. 1879. A contribution to the zoology of Montana. American Naturalist 13(7): 432-441.
    • Corn, P.S. 1980a. Comment on the occurrence of Pseudacris clarki in Montana. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 15(3): 77-78.
    • Corn, P.S., M.L. Jennings, and E. Muths. 1997. Survey and assessment of amphibian populations in Rocky Mountain National Park. Northwest. Nat. 78:34-55.
    • Corn, P.S., W. Stolzenburg, and B.R. Bury. 1989. Acid precipitation studies in Colorado and Wyoming: interim report of surveys of montane amphibians and water chemistry. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 89(40.26). Air Pollution and Acid Rain Report Number 26. 56 p.
    • Hammerson, G.A. 1999. Amphibians and reptiles in Colorado. University Press of Colorado & Colorado Division of Wildlife. Denver, CO. 484 p.
    • Hammerson, G.A. 1982. Amphibians and reptiles in Colorado. Colorado Division of Wildlife. Denver, CO. 131 pp.
    • Hecnar, S.J. 1995. Acute and chronic toxicity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to amphibians from southern Ontario. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 14(12): 2131-2137.
    • Hedges, S.B. 1986. An electrophoretic analysis of Holarctic Hylid frog evolution. Systematic Zoology 35(1): 1-21.
    • Kiesecker, J. 1996. pH mediated predator-prey interactions between Ambystoma tigrinum and Pseudacris triseriata. Ecological Applications 6(4): 1325-1331.
    • Kramer, D.C. 1974. Home range of the western chorus frog (Pseudacris triserata triserata). Journal of Herpetology 8: 245-246.
    • Livezey, R.L. 1952. Some observations on Pseudacris nigrita triseriata (Wied) in Texas. American Midland Naturalist 47: 372-381.
    • Maxell, B.A., P. Hendricks, M.T. Gates, and S. Lenard. 2009. Montana amphibian and reptile status assessment, literature review, and conservation plan, June 2009. Montana Natural Heritage Program. Helena, MT. 643 p.
    • Moore, J.E. and E.H. Strickland. 1954. Notes on the food of three species of Alberta amphibians. American Midland Naturalist 52: 221-224.
    • Mosimann, J.E. and G.B. Rabb. 1952. The herpetology of Tiber Reservoir Area, Montana. Copeia(1): 23-27.
    • Nussbaum, R.A., E.D. Brodie, Jr. and R.M. Storm. 1983. Amphibians and reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. University of Idaho Press. Moscow, ID. 332 pp.
    • Pack, H.J. 1920. Eggs of the swamp tree frog. Copeia 1920(77): 7.
    • Pettus, D. and G.M. Angleton. 1967. Comparative reproductive biology of montane and piedmont chorus frogs. Evolution 21: 500-507.
    • Platz, J. E. 1989. Speciation within the chorus frog Pseudacris triseriata: morphometric and mating call analyses of the boreal and western subspecies. Copeia 1989:704-712.
    • Platz, J.E. and D.C. Forester. 1988. Geographic variation in mating call among the four subspecies of the chorus frog: Pseudacris triseriata (Wied). Copeia 1988(4): 1062-1066.
    • Powell, G.V.N., L.R. DeWeese, and T.G. Lamont. 1982. A field evaluation of frogs as a potential source of secondary organophosphorus insecticide poisoning. Canadian Journal of Zoology 60: 2233-2235.
    • Roberts, W. and V. Lewin. 1979. Habitat utilization and population densities of the amphibians of northeastern Alberta. Canadian Field Naturalist 93(2): 144-154.
    • Sanders, H.O. 1970a. Pesticide toxicities to tadpoles of thet western chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata) and Fowler's toad (Bufo woodhousei fowleri). Copeia 1970: 246-251.
    • Smith, P.W. 1956. The status, correct name, and geographic range of the boreal chorus frog. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 69: 169-176.
    • Spencer, A.W. 1964b. Movement in a population of Pseudacris triseriata. Journal of the Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Science 5(5): 44.
    • Swanson, D.L., B.M. Graves and K.L. Koster. 1996. Freezing tolerance/intolerance and cryoprotectant synthesis in terrestrially overwintering anurans in the Great Plains, USA. Journal of Comparative Physiology B Biochemistry, Systematics and Environment
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks and D.L. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and Reptiles of Montana. Mountain Press Publishing Company: Missoula, MT. 262 pp.
    • Whitaker, J.A. 1971. A study of the western chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata) in Vigo County, Indiana. Journal of Herpetology 5(3-4): 127-150.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
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