Lithobates blairi - (Mecham, Littlejohn, Oldham, Brown and Brown, 1973)
Plains Leopard Frog
Other English Common Names: plains leopard frog
Synonym(s): Rana blairi Mecham, Littlejohn, Oldham, Brown, and Brown, 1973
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Lithobates blairi (Mecham, Littlejohn, Oldham, Brown and Brown, 1973) (TSN 775080)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104999
Element Code: AAABH01040
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)
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Concept Reference
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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 blairi
Taxonomic Comments: No subspecies are recognized. Older literature refers to this species as R. pipiens.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 31Dec2002
Global Status Last Changed: 14Aug2001
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread in the Great Plains and Prairie Peninsula; hundreds of occurrences; locally abundant; local declines and extirpations have occurred, particularly along the range periphery, due to habitat alteration, impacts of exotic species, and perhaps climate variation; secure in range core.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (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 Arizona (S1), Arkansas (S1), Colorado (S3), Illinois (S4), Indiana (S1), Iowa (S5), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S1), Missouri (SNR), Nebraska (S5), New Mexico (S4), Oklahoma (S5), South Dakota (S3S4), Texas (S5)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

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: Southern edge of South Dakota to central Texas (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999), west to eastern Colorado (Hammerson 1999) and central New Mexico (Degenhardt et al. 1996), east in the Prairie Peninsula to Indiana, south along the Mississippi River to southeastern Missouri (Johnson 1987). Disjunct populations in southeastern Arizona (Clarkson and Rorabauch 1989), and an apparently introduced population at Ashurst Lake, Coconino County, north-central Arizona (Brown 1992). To elevations of around 1800 m in Arizona and Colorado, 1000-2250 m in New Mexico (Degenhardt et al. 1996). Stebbins (1985) reported the elevational range as 110-2590 m. Rana blairi hybridizes with Rana pipiens in eastern Colorado (Hammerson 1999) and Nebraska and with Rana sphenocephala along the Missouri River floodplain in Missouri (Parris 1999).

Area of Occupancy: Unknown 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Hundreds of occurrences (Brown 1992). Most state accounts do not distinguish between historical and recent occurrences. Recorded from virtually every county within its range in Texas (Dixon 2000). Documented in every one of several dozen counties in Kansas (Collins 1993). Recorded in nearly every county (about 47) within the range in Missouri (Johnson 1987). Lynch (1978) mapped well over 100 collection sites in Nebraska. Recently recorded from about 25 counties in Illinois; 17 additional counties have pre-1980 records; widespread but not abundant in peripheral prairie remnants and south along the Mississippi River bottomlands (Phillips et al. 1999). Hammerson (1999) mapped approximately 100 collection/observation sites in Colorado. Degenhardt et al. (1996) recorded 100+ locations in New Mexico.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: "Locally common" and "commonly seen" in suitable habitat in northcentral Texas and the Texas Panhandle (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999, Dixon 2000). Common throughout Kansas, found in every aquatic situation (Collins 1993). Widespread and locally common throughout historical range in Colorado (Hammerson 1999).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Suggested causes of declines or extirpations of local populations include water pollution; groundwater pumping; introduction of exotic fishes and amphibians; agricultural development; increased aridity/drought; habitat loss or alteration; toxicants; competition with RANA BERLANDIERI; and predation by, competition with, and/or larval inhibition by bullfrogs (see Brown 1992 and Hammerson 1999). Plains leopard frog larvae are vulnerable to predation from, and generally do not coexist with, predatory fishes (Parris et al. 2001). In Illinois, most of original habitat has been rendered unsuitable by agriculture (Phillips et al. 1999).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Declines or extirpations of local populations have been noted in Iowa (Christiansen and Bailey 1991), Illinois (Phillips et al. 1999), Indiana (Brodman et al. 2002), Arizona (Frost and Bagnara 1977, Frost 1983, Clarkson and Rorabaugh 1989), Colorado (Hammerson 1982, 1999), and Texas (Platz 1981); see also Hayes and Jennings (1986). However, these declines have been noted primarily around the margins of the range; the species apparently remains common and relatively stable in the range core.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Obtain better information on current status rangewide.

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Southern edge of South Dakota to central Texas (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999), west to eastern Colorado (Hammerson 1999) and central New Mexico (Degenhardt et al. 1996), east in the Prairie Peninsula to Indiana, south along the Mississippi River to southeastern Missouri (Johnson 1987). Disjunct populations in southeastern Arizona (Clarkson and Rorabauch 1989), and an apparently introduced population at Ashurst Lake, Coconino County, north-central Arizona (Brown 1992). To elevations of around 1800 m in Arizona and Colorado, 1000-2250 m in New Mexico (Degenhardt et al. 1996). Stebbins (1985) reported the elevational range as 110-2590 m. Rana blairi hybridizes with Rana pipiens in eastern Colorado (Hammerson 1999) and Nebraska and with Rana sphenocephala along the Missouri River floodplain in Missouri (Parris 1999).

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 AR, AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MO, NE, NM, OK, SD, 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 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)
AZ Cochise (04003)
CO Baca (08009), Bent (08011), Cheyenne (08017), Crowley (08025), Elbert (08039), Kiowa (08061), Kit Carson (08063), Las Animas (08071), Lincoln (08073), Otero (08089), Prowers (08099), Pueblo (08101), Yuma (08125)
IN Jasper (18073)*, Newton (18111), Orange (18117), Pulaski (18131)*, Tippecanoe (18157)
KY Fulton (21075)
NM Colfax (35007), Eddy (35015), Mora (35033), San Miguel (35047), Sierra (35051), Union (35059)
OK Cimarron (40025), Ellis (40045)
SD Bon Homme (46009), Charles Mix (46023), Clay (46027), Gregory (46053), Jackson (46071)*, McCook (46087), Tripp (46123)*, Turner (46125), Union (46127), Yankton (46135)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
05 Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion (05120108)+, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+
07 Kankakee (07120001)+*, Iroquois (07120002)+
08 Obion (08010202)+
10 Fort Randall Reservoir (10140101)+, Bad (10140102)+*, Lower White (10140204)+*, Lewis and Clark Lake (10170101)+, Vermillion (10170102)+, Lower Big Sioux (10170203)+, Arikaree (10250001)+, North Fork Republican (10250002)+, South Fork Republican (10250003)+
11 Chico (11020004)+, Upper Arkansas-Lake Meredith (11020005)+, Huerfano (11020006)+*, Apishapa (11020007)+, Horse (11020008)+, Upper Arkansas-John Martin (11020009)+, Purgatoire (11020010)+, Big Sandy (11020011)+, Rush (11020012)+, Two Butte (11020013)+, Cimarron headwaters (11040001)+, Upper Cimarron (11040002)+, Sand Arroyo (11040004)+, Canadian headwaters (11080001)+, Cimarron (11080002)+, Upper Canadian (11080003)+, Lower Canadian-Deer (11090201)+
13 Caballo (13030101)+, Upper Pecos-Black (13060011)+
15 Willcox Playa (15050201)+, Whitewater Draw (15080301)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Lays clutch of up to a few thousand eggs in spring, summer, or early fall, often after heavy rains. Larvae from early clutches metamorphose in summer, those from late clutches may overwinter and metamorphose the following spring.
Ecology Comments: Known predators include burrowing owl, Mississippi kite, and various snakes (Brown 1992).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrations depend in part on the permanence of the aquatic breeding site.


In Colorado, Gillis (1975) found that from one year to the next, some R. blairi moved up to 8 km between ponds, and one blairi-pipiens hybrid reportedly moved 14 km. Most other "long-distance" movements were 3 km from one year to the next, and presumably maximum movements in general were much less (not reported).

Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Pool, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND, TEMPORARY POOL
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Usually in the vicinity of streams, ponds, creek pools, reservoirs, irrigation ditches, and marshes in areas of prairie and desert grassland, farmland, and prairie canyons; Stebbins (1985) mentioned also oak and oak-pine woodland as habitat. Generally in or near water, but may range into surrounding terrestrial habitat in wet weather. When disturbed, often seeks refuge in vegetation surrounding bodies of water. Burrows into mud and leaves of pond and stream bottoms in winter. Has been found in caves in Oklahoma. See Brown (1992) for further details for various states. Eggs and larvae develop in temporary or permanent pools, ponds, flooded areas, sloughs, and marshes; commonly in muddy water. Males frequently call while floating at the water surface (Brown 1992).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Metamorphosed frogs generally eat various invertebrates associated with the ground surface. Larvae eat suspended matter, organic debris, algae, minute organisms, and plant tissue.
Adult Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Generally inactive during cold weather from late fall to early spring, but winter aquatic activity has been reported.
Length: 11 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Introduction of exotic species (e.g., fishes, bullfrogs) should be prohibited. Where already present, exotics should be removed if possible.
Monitoring Requirements: Populations appear to be rather dynamic, at least in some areas. Frequent monitoring is needed in areas where exotic species may invade and detrimentally impact frogs. Long-term monitoring is needed to determine whether reported declines are only temporary.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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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
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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: 31Dec2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 06Feb2003
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
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