Ascaphus montanus - Mittleman and Myers, 1949
Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog
Other English Common Names: Inland Tailed Frog
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ascaphus montanus Mittleman and Myers, 1949 (TSN 661593)
French Common Names: grenouille--queue des Rocheuses
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104648
Element Code: AAABA01020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Frogs and Toads
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Anura Ascaphidae Ascaphus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Nielson, M., K. Lohman, and J. Sullivan. 2001. Phylogeography of the tailed frog (Ascaphus truei): implications for the biogeography of the Pacific Northwest. Evolution 55:147-160.
Concept Reference Code: A01NIE01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ascaphus montanus
Taxonomic Comments: Nielson et al. (2001) examined phylogeography of A. TRUEI using mtDNA data. Based on the results of this study and on previous allozyme and morphological data, they recommended that the coastal and inland segments of A. TRUEI be recognized as distinct species, A. TRUEI (coastal) and A. MONTANUS (inland). See also Ritland et al. (2000) for information on tailed frog phylogeography based on genetic variation.

Tailed frogs sometimes are placed in the family Leiopelmatidae. Stebbins (1985) placed them in the family Ascaphidae.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 01Aug2016
Global Status Last Changed: 15May2001
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Moderately widespread and locally common in the northern Rocky Mountain region; trend is uncertain; may be threatened in some areas by habitat loss/degradation resulting from timber harvest; better information on current status and response to current timber harvest practices is needed.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (15May2001)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N2 (02Aug2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Idaho (S3), Montana (S4), Oregon (S2), Washington (S2?)
Canada British Columbia (S2S3)

Other Statuses

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R1 - Pacific
Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: T (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Threatened (01Nov2013)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation:In Canada, this unusual stream-breeding frog is restricted to two unconnected watersheds, where it relies on small, forested fast-flowing streams. Habitat damage from sedimentation due primarily to roads, logging, and fires, and loss of terrestrial dispersal habitat from logging and wood harvesting are key threats. The total population is small, consisting of approximately 3000 adults, which increases the vulnerability of the population to environmental perturbations. Increases in habitat protection and a moratorium on mining in the Flathead River portion of the range resulted in a change of status from Endangered.

Status history: Designated Endangered in May 2000. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in November 2013.

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Extreme southeastern British Columbia south through western Montana to extreme southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and south-central Idaho (Leonard et al. 1993, Nielson et al. 2001, Stebbins 2003). Elevational range in Oregon mainly 1,100-2,100 m (occurrence data); ranges to at least 2,134 m in the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon (Leonard et al. 1993). Occurs at elevations as low as 550 m or less in British Columbia.

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Many occurrences in Montana and Idaho.

In British Columbia (Linda Dupuis, pers. comm., 2001), there are two small population groups, isolated from one another by the Rocky Mountain Trench (dry habitat). The populations to the east of the trench includes 7 occurrences. There is only one other suitable creek within a 25-km radius of this cluster of occurrences. They are all found in unstable channels and their populations are low. Probably this population would not survive another logging rotation. The populations to the west of the Trench are faring better. There are 12 occurrences, but these are all clustered, have low densities, are in less than ideal creeks, and are also vulnerable to the next logging rotation.

Population Size: 2500 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but likely is at least several thousand and may exceed 10,000. Still relatively common in Idaho and Montana.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Tailed frogs are sensitive to logging and road building (Leonard et al. 1993). Logging practices that increase water temperatures and siltation may have an adverse effect on tailed frog populations (Nussbaum et al. 1983). See also Bury and Corn (1988) and Corn and Bury (1989) for information on negative effects of timber harvest. Despite negative effects of logging, tailed frogs frequently occur in many young forests that have been harvested one or more times in the past. Sensitivity to timber harvest may depend on surface geology and harvest practices (Adams and Bury 2002, Welsh and Lind 2002). Diller and Wallace (1999) emphasized that current timber harvest practices are not as detrimental as those used in the past. Information on the responses of tailed frogs to timber harvest are based primarily on the coastal tailed frog, A. truei. Further information is needed on the responses of A. montanus.

Apparently low dispersal abilities may limit rate of recovery of depleted populations

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Possibly declining, based on habitat trends, but few population data are available.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, unknown degree of decline in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly to moderately vulnerable.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Extreme southeastern British Columbia south through western Montana to extreme southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and south-central Idaho (Leonard et al. 1993, Nielson et al. 2001, Stebbins 2003). Elevational range in Oregon mainly 1,100-2,100 m (occurrence data); ranges to at least 2,134 m in the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon (Leonard et al. 1993). Occurs at elevations as low as 550 m or less in British Columbia.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ID, MT, OR, WA
Canada BC

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: IUCN, Conservation International, NatureServe, and collaborators, 2004


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ID Adams (16003), Benewah (16009), Blaine (16013), Boise (16015), Bonner (16017), Boundary (16021), Camas (16025), Clearwater (16035), Custer (16037), Elmore (16039), Idaho (16049), Kootenai (16055), Latah (16057), Lemhi (16059), Nez Perce (16069), Shoshone (16079), Valley (16085), Washington (16087)
OR Baker (41001), Umatilla (41059), Union (41061), Wallowa (41063)
WA Asotin (53003), Columbia (53013), Garfield (53023), Walla Walla (53071)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Upper Kootenai (17010101)+, Lower Kootenai (17010104)+, Moyie (17010105)+, Lower Clark Fork (17010213)+, Pend Oreille Lake (17010214)+, Upper Coeur D'alene (17010301)+, South Fork Coeur D'alene (17010302)+, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+, St. Joe (17010304)+, Hangman (17010306)+, Big Wood (17040219)+, North and Middle Forks Boise (17050111)+, South Fork Boise (17050113)+, South Fork Payette (17050120)+, Middle Fork Payette (17050121)+, North Fork Payette (17050123)+, Weiser (17050124)+, Brownlee Reservoir (17050201)+, Powder (17050203)+, Hells Canyon (17060101)+, Imnaha (17060102)+, Lower Snake-Asotin (17060103)+, Upper Grande Ronde (17060104)+, Wallowa (17060105)+, Lower Grande Ronde (17060106)+, Lower Snake-Tucannon (17060107)+, Palouse (17060108)+, Upper Salmon (17060201)+, Middle Salmon-Panther (17060203)+, Upper Middle Fork Salmon (17060205)+, Lower Middle Fork Salmon (17060206)+, Middle Salmon-Chamberlain (17060207)+, South Fork Salmon (17060208)+, Lower Salmon (17060209)+, Little Salmon (17060210)+, Upper Selway (17060301)+, Lower Selway (17060302)+, Lochsa (17060303)+, Middle Fork Clearwater (17060304)+, South Fork Clearwater (17060305)+, Clearwater (17060306)+, Upper North Fork Clearwater (17060307)+, Lower North Fork Clearwater (17060308)+, Walla Walla (17070102)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small frog with a tail-like appendage in males.
Reproduction Comments: Fertilization is internal; male has a tail-like copulatory organ. Mating occurs typically in fall; females retain sperm and lay eggs in early summer. Eggs hatch ususally in late summer, but larvae may remain in nest site until the following summer. Larval period lasts a few years. Requires several additional years to attain sexual maturity.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: In Montana, frogs made seasonal migrations that appeared to be related to avoidance of warm water temperatures (Adams and Frissell 2001); distances moved are uncertain.
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, High gradient, Moderate gradient, Pool, Riffle, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Clear, cold swift-moving mountain streams with coarse substrate. Perhaps occurs primarily in older forest sites, but better information is needed; required microclimatic and microhabitat conditions are more common in older forests.
May be found on land during wet weather near water in humid forests or in more open habitat. During dry weather stays on moist stream-banks. Lays eggs in long strings under stones in water.

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Larva feed mostly on diatoms. Adults eat a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates.
Adult Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Adults likely are most active April-October.
Length: 5 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Maintenance of cool, forested, unsilted streams and stream corridors is a basic conservation need.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Tailed Frogs

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including larvae or eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Mapping Guidance: For occurrence separations in suitable habitat, measure distances as stream-kilometers (not straight-line distance).
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Tailed frogs are closely tied to clean, cold streams. Adults will forage in upland habitat, but only during cool, wet weather (Nussbaum et al. 1983). Because upland habitat does not support reproduction or long-term residency, it comprises unsuitable habitat for purposes of occurrence separation.

Adults generally exhibit very limited movements. In Montana, no reproductively mature adults moved more than 40 meters from one year to the next (Daugherty and Sheldon 1982). In another Montana study, frogs made seasonal migrations that appeared to be related to avoidance of warm water temperatures (Adams and Frissell 2001); distances moved are uncertain but may have been a couple hundred meters or more. Also, during studies of old-growth forests in the early 1980s, adult Ascaphus were caught in pitfall traps more than 500 m from known streams, though perhaps rivulets were closer (R. B. Bury, pers. comm., 2000). This suggests that some tailed frogs might disperse multiple kilometers over their lifespan. Dispersal movements are poorly known, but it seems likely that considerable movement of larvae, juveniles, and even adults periodically occurs along stream corridors. The separation distance for suitable habitat reflects the likely low probability that occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent truly independent populations.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Gaines, E.; revised by G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 02May2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Gaines, E., and G. Hammerson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 05May2004
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
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Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2019.
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Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

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