Lithobates areolatus - (Baird and Girard, 1852)
Crawfish Frog
Other English Common Names: crawfish frog
Synonym(s): Rana areolata Baird and Girard, 1852
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Lithobates areolatus (Baird and Girard, 1852) (TSN 775078)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106291
Element Code: AAABH01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Frogs and Toads
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Anura Ranidae Lithobates
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B85FRO01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Rana areolata
Taxonomic Comments: Eastern populations of Rana areolata (sensu Altig and Lohoefener 1983, from North Carolina to Florida and west to southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi) are thought by some (e.g., Collins 1990, Conant and Collins 1991, Bailey 1991) to represent a distinct species, Rana capito (including subspecies capito, aesopus, and sevosa; with Rana areolata comprising subspecies areolata and circulosa). In a hypothetical phylogenetic diagram based on morphology, Case (1978) placed capito closer to pipiens than to areolata (thereby suggesting the validity of capito as a distinct species) but did not provide any data to justify this hypothesis. Dundee and Rossman (1989) cited evidence of intermediates between areolata and sevosa and regarded them as conspecific (thus not recognizing capito as a distinct species).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Apr2002
Global Status Last Changed: 13Nov2001
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (05Nov1996)

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 Alabama (S1), Arkansas (SNR), Illinois (S4), Indiana (SNR), Iowa (S1), Kansas (S3), Kentucky (S3), Louisiana (S1), Mississippi (S2), Missouri (SNR), Oklahoma (S4), Tennessee (S4), Texas (SNR)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range extends from northern and central Mississippi, northern Louisiana, and eastern Texas north through eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, western Tennessee, and western Kentucky to eastern Kansas, southern Iowa (at least formerly), southern Illinois, and Indiana (Altig and Lohoefener 1983, Conant and Collins 1991).

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations).

Population Size: 10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 10,000 and probably exceeds 100,000. This frog is secretive but not uncommon in Texas (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999). It has been found repeatedly and in large numbers in the Ouachita River bottomlands in Louisiana (Dundee and Rossman 1989). It is uncommon but widely distributed in Arkansas (Trauth et al. 2004).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many (41-125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Probably there are many occurrences with at least good viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: This species is difficult to monitor, so trends are not well known. Population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences probably are declining, but the degree of decline is unknown. In Illinois, this frog is uncommon and declining in some areas where breeding habitats have been drained or stocked with predatory fishes (Phillips et al. 1999). The species was locally plentiful in western Indiana until about 1970, then it declined markedly and disappeared from many sites for reasons that are not well understood, including some in which the habitat did not change in any obvious way (Minton 2001). It may no longer occur in southern Iowa (Johnson 2000). Crawfish frogs may be disappearing from previously suitable habitat in Kansas, where very susceptible to draining of wetlands (Collins et al. 2010).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: This species undoubtedly has declined in extent of occurrence, population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences, but the degree of decline is unknown.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from northern and central Mississippi, northern Louisiana, and eastern Texas north through eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, western Tennessee, and western Kentucky to eastern Kansas, southern Iowa (at least formerly), southern Illinois, and Indiana (Altig and Lohoefener 1983, Conant and Collins 1991).

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: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, OK, TN, TX

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

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

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Sumter (01119)
AR Benton (05007), Bradley (05011)*, Conway (05029), Craighead (05031), Drew (05043)*, Faulkner (05045), Franklin (05047), Johnson (05071), Logan (05083), Pope (05115)*, Sebastian (05131), Van Buren (05141), Washington (05143), White (05145)*, Yell (05149)
IA Appanoose (19007)*, Davis (19051)*, Jefferson (19101)*, Van Buren (19177)*, Wayne (19185)*
IN Clay (18021), Crawford (18025), Daviess (18027), Fountain (18045), Greene (18055), Jefferson (18077), Jennings (18079), Monroe (18105), Morgan (18109), Owen (18119), Parke (18121), Pike (18125)*, Ripley (18137), Sullivan (18153), Vigo (18167)
KS Allen (20001), Anderson (20003), Bourbon (20011)*, Cherokee (20021), Coffey (20031), Crawford (20037)*, Douglas (20045)*, Elk (20049)*, Franklin (20059), Greenwood (20073)*, Johnson (20091)*, Labette (20099)*, Linn (20107), Lyon (20111), Miami (20121)*, Osage (20139)*, Woodson (20207)*
KY Ballard (21007), Caldwell (21033), Calloway (21035), Carlisle (21039), Crittenden (21055), Daviess (21059)*, Graves (21083), Henderson (21101), Hickman (21105)*, Hopkins (21107), Livingston (21139), Marshall (21157), McCracken (21145), Webster (21233)
LA Caddo (22017), Vernon (22115)
MO Adair (29001), Audrain (29007), Barton (29011), Bates (29013), Benton (29015), Boone (29019), Callaway (29027), Cass (29037), Cedar (29039), Chariton (29041), Dade (29057), Henry (29083), Howard (29089), Jackson (29095), Jasper (29097), Johnson (29101), Lawrence (29109), Lincoln (29113)*, Macon (29121), Montgomery (29139), Morgan (29141), Newton (29145), Pettis (29159), Pike (29163)*, Polk (29167), St. Charles (29183)*, St. Clair (29185), Vernon (29217), Warren (29219)*
MS Hinds (28049), Leake (28079)*, Madison (28089)*, Marshall (28093), Oktibbeha (28105), Rankin (28121)*, Winston (28159)*
OK Atoka (40005), Muskogee (40101), Washington (40147)
TX Anderson (48001), Angelina (48005), Austin (48015), Brazoria (48039)*, Brazos (48041)*, Burleson (48051)*, Calhoun (48057)*, Chambers (48071)*, Colorado (48089), Fort Bend (48157)*, Freestone (48161), Galveston (48167)*, Grayson (48181)*, Hardin (48199)*, Harris (48201)*, Henderson (48213)*, Houston (48225)*, Hunt (48231), Jasper (48241), Jefferson (48245)*, Kaufman (48257), Lamar (48277), Montgomery (48339)*, Nacogdoches (48347)*, Navarro (48349), Newton (48351)*, Orange (48361), Polk (48373)*, Refugio (48391), Sabine (48403), Trinity (48455)*, Van Zandt (48467), Walker (48471)*, Waller (48473)*, Wharton (48481)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Tibbee (03160104)+, Noxubee (03160108)+*, Sucarnoochee (03160202)+, Upper Pearl (03180001)+*, Middle Pearl-Strong (03180002)+*
05 Lower Green (05110005)+, Pond (05110006)+, Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion (05120108)+, Sugar (05120110)+, Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+, Upper White (05120201)+, Lower White (05120202)+, Eel (05120203)+, Muscatatuck (05120207)+, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+, Patoka (05120209)+*, Lower Cumberland (05130205)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+, Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon (05140201)+*, Highland-Pigeon (05140202)+*, Lower Ohio-Bay (05140203)+, Tradewater (05140205)+, Lower Ohio (05140206)+
06 Lower Tennessee (06040006)+
07 Skunk (07080107)+*, Lower Des Moines (07100009)+*, Bear-Wyaconda (07110001)+*, North Fork Salt (07110005)+, South Fork Salt (07110006)+, Salt (07110007)+*, Cuivre (07110008)+*, Peruque-Piasa (07110009)+*
08 Bayou De Chien-Mayfield (08010201)+, Obion (08010202)+, Horn Lake-Nonconnah (08010211)+, Lower St. Francis (08020203)+, Lower Saline (08040204)+*, Lower Big Black (08060202)+
10 Lower Kansas (10270104)+*, Lower Grand (10280103)+*, Upper Chariton (10280201)+*, Lower Chariton (10280202)+, Little Chariton (10280203)+, Upper Marais Des Cygnes (10290101)+, Lower Marais Des Cygnes (10290102)+, Little Osage (10290103)+*, Marmaton (10290104)+, Harry S. Missouri (10290105)+, Sac (10290106)+, South Grand (10290108)+, Lake of the Ozarks (10290109)+, Lower Missouri-Crooked (10300101)+, Lower Missouri-Moreau (10300102)+, Lamine (10300103)+, Blackwater (10300104)+, Lower Missouri (10300200)+
11 Little Red (11010014)+*, Upper Verdigris (11070101)+*, Fall (11070102)+*, Elk (11070104)+*, Caney (11070106)+, Neosho headwaters (11070201)+, Upper Neosho (11070204)+, Middle Neosho (11070205)+*, Spring (11070207)+, Lower Neosho (11070209)+, Dirty-Greenleaf (11110102)+, Illinois (11110103)+, Frog-Mulberry (11110201)+, Dardanelle Reservoir (11110202)+, Lake Conway-Point Remove (11110203)+, Petit Jean (11110204)+, Cadron (11110205)+, Lake Texoma (11130210)+*, Bois D'arc-Island (11140101)+, Muddy Boggy (11140103)+, Bayou Pierre (11140206)+
12 Upper Sabine (12010001)+, Lower Sabine (12010005)+, Upper Neches (12020001)+*, Middle Neches (12020002)+*, Lower Neches (12020003)+, Lower Angelina (12020005)+, Village (12020006)+*, Pine Island Bayou (12020007)+*, Cedar (12030107)+, Richland (12030108)+, Chambers (12030109)+*, Lower Trinity-Tehuacana (12030201)+, Lower Trinity-Kickapoo (12030202)+*, Lower Trinity (12030203)+*, Spring (12040102)+*, East Fork San Jacinto (12040103)+*, Buffalo-San Jacinto (12040104)+*, Sabine Lake (12040201)+*, East Galveston Bay (12040202)+*, West Galveston Bay (12040204)+*, Austin-Oyster (12040205)+*, Lower Brazos-Little Brazos (12070101)+*, Navasota (12070103)+*, Lower Brazos (12070104)+, San Bernard (12090401)+, West Matagorda Bay (12100402)+*, Aransas Bay (12100405)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
General Description: A stubby frog with dorsolateral ridges and dark rounded dorsal spots surrounded by light borders; throat and belly region generally unspotted; males may have yellow on the dorsolateral ridges and on the concealed parts of the limbs; generally 5.7-7.5 cm snout-vent length (Conant and Collins 1991).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from RANA CAPITO by the mainly unpigmented venter and the light borders around the dark dorsal spots (Conant and Collins 1991).
Reproduction Comments: Lays eggs in winter in south, in spring in north. May breed also in summer or early fall in southeast. In the northern part of the range, aquatic larvae metamorphose into the terrestrial form in summer.
Ecology Comments: Apparently maintains small home range in vicinity of burrow when not breeding; movements of a mile or more between breeding pond and nonbreeding habitat have been reported.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrates up to several hundred meters between breeding pools and nonbreeding habitats.
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Moist meadows, pasturelands, river flood plains, pine scrub, golf courses. Hides in burrows of crayfish or rodents when inactive; also under under logs and in sewers. Eggs are laid and larvae develop in flooded fields, ditches, farm ponds, and small lakes; usually in fishless, temporary water.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Metamorphosed frogs eat various invertebrates and occasionally small frogs. Larvae eat suspended matter, organic debris, algae, minute organisms, and plant tissue.
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Inactive during cold winter months in the northern part of the range.
Colonial Breeder: Y
Length: 11 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Ranid Frogs

Use Class: Not applicable
Subtype(s): Breeding Location
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.
Separation Barriers: Busy major highway, especially at night, such that frogs rarely if ever cross successfully; urban development dominated by buildings and pavement; habitat in which site-specific data indicate the frogs virtually never occur.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: BARRIERS/UNSUITABLE HABITAT: Rivers may or may not be effective barriers, depending on stream width and flow dynamics; identification of streams as barriers is a subjective determination. Ranid frog species vary in habitat use, but even the most aquatic species may traverse upland habitat when conditions are suitable (Pope and Matthews 2001); natural and seminatural upland habitat generally does not constitute a barrier. Here, unsuitable habitat refers to upland habitat devoid or nearly devoid of wetlands, streams, ponds, or lakes. Bodies of water dominated by predatory fishes may be barriers to some species but suitable habitat for others; in most cases, such waters probably should be regarded as unsuitable habitat.

SUITABLE HABITAT: Suitable habitat includes riparian/riverine corridors, wetlands, and wetland/upland mosaics in which wetland patches are separated by less than 1 km of upland habitat; it also includes any upland habitat regularly used for feeding or wintering (e.g., mesic forest for wood frogs).

MOVEMENTS: Available information indicates that individual ranids occasionally move distances of several km (R. luteiventris: Reaser 1996, cited by Koch et al. 1997; R. blairi: Gillis 1975) but most individuals stay within a few kilometers of their breeding sites (R. aurora draytonii: USFWS, Federal Register, 11 September 2000; R. capito: Franz et al. 1988; R. clamitans: Lamoureux and Madison 1999; R. luteiventris: Turner 1960, Hollenbeck 1974, Bull and Hayes 2001). Similarly, maximum distance between capture points generally is a few kilometers or less (R. aurora: Hayes et al. 2001; USFWS, Federal Register, 11 September 2000; R. catesbeiana: Willis et al. 1956; R. luteiventris: Reaser and Pilliod, in press; Engle 2000; R. muscosa: Pope and Matthews 2001). Dispersal data for juveniles are lacking for most species.

Adult and juvenile R. sylvatica readily traveled in excess of 300 m from their pools of origin (Vasconcelos and Calhoun 2004). Bellis (1965) determined that adult and juvenile R. sylvatica in a peat bog had traveled at least 410 m from the nearest breeding pool. Berven and Grudzien (1990) found that dispersing R. sylvatica juveniles traveled an average of 1,208 m from their natal pools. In the Shenandoah Mountains, data for R. sylvatica indicated that ponds separated by a distance greater than 1,000 m should experience little gene flow (Berven and Grudzien 1991). In contrast, populations in Minnesota were very similar in allelic frequencies, even at distances greater than several kilometers (Squire and Newman 2002). However, sample sizes and number of loci examined were small, and genetic patterns do not necessarily reflect movement distances.

The preponderance of data for ranids indicate that a separation distance of several kilometers may be appropriate for suitable habitat and practical for occurrence delineation, despite occasional movements that are longer and that may allow some genetic interchange between distant populations. The movement data for ranids are here regarded as consistent enough to allow the same separation distance to be used for different species; much of the apparent variation in movements doubtless reflects differences in study methods and in the ability to detect long-distance movements.

Date: 01Apr2005
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 08May2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Dec1994
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).


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