Lithobates catesbeianus - (Shaw, 1802)
American Bullfrog
Other English Common Names: American bullfrog, Bullfrog
Synonym(s): Lithobates catesbeiana (Shaw, 1802) ;Rana catesbeiana Shaw, 1802
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Lithobates catesbeianus (Shaw, 1802) (TSN 775084)
French Common Names: ouaouaron
Spanish Common Names: Rana Toro
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105926
Element Code: AAABH01070
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 catesbeiana
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 30Oct2009
Global Status Last Changed: 15Nov2001
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Nov1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (23Sep2014)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S5), Arizona (SNA), Arkansas (S5), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (S5), Delaware (S5), District of Columbia (S4), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Hawaii (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S5), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (S4), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (S5), Montana (SNA), Navajo Nation (SNA), Nebraska (S5), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S5), New Mexico (SNA), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S5), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S5), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S5), Tennessee (S5), Texas (S5), Utah (SNA), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S3S4), Wyoming (S5)
Canada British Columbia (SNA), New Brunswick (S5), Nova Scotia (S5), Ontario (S4), Quebec (S5)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Candidate (Medium) (26Jan2015)
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The native range extends from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and southern Quebec, Canada, west to the Great Lakes region, and south through most of the central and eastern United States and south into northeastern Mexico. The western limits of the native range are ambiguous due to widespread introductions in western North America. The species also has been introduced and is established in the Greater Antilles, Hawaii, and many other locations worldwide.

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Represented by many and/or large occurrences throughout most of the range.

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but clearly exceeds 1,000,000 individuals.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very many (>125)

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: There are no threats to this species. Outside of the United States this species is considered a pest.

Short-term Trend: Increase of >10%
Short-term Trend Comments: Likely increasing.

Long-term Trend: Increase of >25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Has increased in all aspects through introductions and subsequent unaided spread.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) The native range extends from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and southern Quebec, Canada, west to the Great Lakes region, and south through most of the central and eastern United States and south into northeastern Mexico. The western limits of the native range are ambiguous due to widespread introductions in western North America. The species also has been introduced and is established in the Greater Antilles, Hawaii, and many other locations worldwide.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HIexotic, IA, IDexotic, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MNnative and exotic, MO, MS, MTexotic, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NMexotic, NNexotic, NVexotic, NY, OH, OK, ORexotic, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UTexotic, VA, VT, WAexotic, WI, WV, WYnative and exotic
Canada BCexotic, NB, NS, ON, QC

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 Ada (16001), Bannock (16005)*, Bonner (16017), Boundary (16021)*, Canyon (16027), Cassia (16031), Clearwater (16035), Gooding (16047), Idaho (16049), Kootenai (16055)*, Latah (16057)*, Nez Perce (16069), Owyhee (16073)*, Payette (16075)*, Power (16077)*, Shoshone (16079), Washington (16087)*
MN Blue Earth (27013), Chisago (27025), Faribault (27043)*, Hennepin (27053), Houston (27055), Jackson (27063), Rice (27131), Stearns (27145), Steele (27147), Winona (27169)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
07 Platte-Spunk (07010201)+, Twin Cities (07010206)+, Blue Earth (07020009)+, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+, Cannon (07040002)+, Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)+, Coon-Yellow (07060001)+
10 Little Sioux (10230003)+
17 Lower Kootenai (17010104)+*, Pend Oreille Lake (17010214)+, Pend Oreille (17010216)+, Upper Coeur D'alene (17010301)+, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+*, Portneuf (17040208)+*, Lake Walcott (17040209)+*, Raft (17040210)+, Upper Snake-Rock (17040212)+, Bruneau (17050102)+*, Middle Snake-Succor (17050103)+*, Boise-Mores (17050112)+*, Lower Boise (17050114)+, Payette (17050122)+*, Brownlee Reservoir (17050201)+*, Palouse (17060108)+*, Lower Salmon (17060209)+, Clearwater (17060306)+, Lower North Fork Clearwater (17060308)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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General Description: Bullfrogs are green or brown, usually with dark spots or mottling (but not large rounded spots). The eardrums are large, with a fold of skin curving around the top and rear edges. The hind toes are more or less fully webbed but the 4th toe extends beyond the webbing. There are no ridges along each side of the back. Maximum snout-vent length is about 8 inches (20 cm). In mature males, the eardrum usually is distinctly larger than the eye (same diameter in female and young), the throat is yellow during the breeding season, and the base of the thumb is swollen. Expansion of the internal vocal sac in adult males causes a bulging of the throat. The breeding call is a deep bellowing um-rum or um-er-rum or something similar. Juveniles are green with many scattered small black dots on the back. In large larvae, the upper surface is green with small black sharp-edged dots (and on tail fin), whereas the upper side is black with gold crossbands in individuals less than one inch (2.5 cm) long. Maximum length of larvae is about 7 inches (18 cm); commonly they are 4 inches long or longer (10+ cm). Eggs are black above, whitish below, deposited in flat jelly masses up to more than 1 meter in diameter and containing thousands of eggs (mass initially floats at surface of water but soon sinks). Source: Hammerson (1999).
Reproduction Comments: Breeding occurs when water temperatures are relatively warm, mainly in May-July in the northern part of the range, primarily late spring to late summer in Georgia, and mainly March through summer in Louisiana. Individual females produce 1-2 clutches/year. Larvae hatch in 4-20 days. In most areas, larvae overwinter at least once before metamorphosing, but larvae metamorphose in less than a year in warm climates (e.g., 5-6 months in Louisiana; less than 6 months in Hawaii, Tinker 1941). Individuals become sexually mature an average of 1-5 years after metamorphosis, with the oldest ages of maturity occurring in environments with the shortest growing seasons (e.g., average of 5 years after metamorphosis in central Ontario females); in a particular location, males tend to mature a year or so earlier than do females (Shirose et al. 1993).
Ecology Comments: Introduced bullfrogs apparently have detrimental effects on populations of native ranid frogs.

Bullfrog larvae generally are not palatable to fish predators but are sensitive to invertebrate predators (e.g., see Smith et al. 1999).

Bullfrogs in hand may go limp, then suddenly "revive" and leap away. Sometimes they produce a loud open-mouthed call lasting up to several seconds.

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: May make seasonal migrations to and from ephemeral bodies of water, or between adjacent permanent aquatic habitats. Usually remains in one pond or in a cluster of adjacent ponds throughout season but may move up to a mile or more from one year to the next. In Missouri, Willis et al. (1956) found that R. catesbeiana made interpond movements of 0.16-2.8 km.
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Pool
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND, TEMPORARY POOL
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: American bullfrogs inhabit ponds, swamps, lakes, reservoirs, marshes, brackish ponds (e.g., Hawaii), stream margins, and irrigation ditches, especially sites with abundant floating, emergent, or submerged vegetation. They may disperse from water in wet weather and sometimes are found in temporary waters hundreds of meters from permanent water. Bullfrogs sometimes make seasonal migrations to and from ephemeral bodies of water, or between adjacent permanent aquatic habitats. Individuals often remain in one pond or in a cluster of adjacent ponds throughout a season but may move up to a mile or more from one year to the next. Breeding sites are primarily permanent slow- or nonflowing bodies of water.
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Metamorphosed frogs eat any animal that can be captured and swallowed, including all kinds of vertebrates and invertebrates. Larvae eat suspended matter, organic debris, algae, plant tissue, and small aquatic invertebrates.
Adult Phenology: Circadian, Crepuscular, Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Circadian, Crepuscular, Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Bullfrogs are easily observed in daytime or (with a light) at night; movements and breeding activity during summer occur mostly at dusk and at night, though calling commonly occurs in daytime as well. Bullfrogs are relatively inactive during cold winter months, where they situate themselves at the bottom of pools or under various sorts of cover in or near water.
Length: 20 centimeters
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Harvested for meat in many areas.
Management Summary
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Species Impacts: Implicated in declines of native anurans in western United States (e.g., see Bury and Whelan 1984; Schwalbe and Rosen 1988; Hammerson 1982, 1999; Pearl et al. 2004). Hayes and Jennings (1986) reviewed ranid declines in western North America and concluded that factors other than bullfrogs may be most important in most declines of native ranids; further study is needed.

Kupferberg (UC Berkeley) found that bullfrog larvae perturbed aquatic community structure and exerted detrimental effects on Rana boylii populations in northern California but had only a slight impact on Pseudacris regilla (Froglog, September 1993). Lawler et al. (1999) documented strong negative impacts of bullfrog larvae on red-legged frog (R. aurora) larvae. Kiesecker and Blaustein (1998) found that R. aurora was negatively impacted when exposed to the combined effects of bullfrog larvae and adults or bullfrog larvae and smallmouth bass. Pearl et al. (2004) found that bullfrogs appear to have a greater negative impact on Rana pretiosa than on Rana aurora; the former is more aquatic than the latter. Hecnar and M'Closkey (1997) found that Rana clamitans populations increased greatly after bullfrog extirpation at a site in Ontario.

Management Requirements: See Bury and Whelan (1984) for management information.
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: 26Jan2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 26Jan2010
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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