Rana muscosa - Camp, 1917
Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frog
Other English Common Names: Sierra Madre Yellow-legged Frog
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Rana muscosa Camp, 1917 (TSN 173454)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.802507
Element Code: AAABH01330
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Frogs and Toads
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Anura Ranidae Rana
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Vredenburg, V. T., R. Bingham, R. Knapp, J.A.T. Morgan, C. Moritz, and D. Wake. 2007. Concordant molecular and phenotypic data delineate new taxonomy and conservation priorities for the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog. Journal of Zoology 271:361-374.
Concept Reference Code: A07VRE01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Rana muscosa
Taxonomic Comments: Yellow-legged frog populations now recognized as Rana sierrae formerly were included in Rana muscosa. Vredenburg et al. (2007) examined phylogeography of Rana muscosa as defined by Stebbins (2003) and determined that R. muscosa occurs in the southern Sierra Nevada and in mountains to the south and that populations in the Sierra Nevada north of this range comprise a distinct species (Rana sierrae).

Note that the full range of Rana muscosa includes the southern Sierra Nevada and is larger than that of the distinct population segment listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (mountains of southern California south of the Sierra Nevada).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 26Aug2013
Global Status Last Changed: 26Aug2013
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Occurs in the southern Sierra Nevada and mountains of southern California; numerous population declines and local extirpations have occurred and are ongoing, some in apparently pristine habitats; introduced trouts are a major factor in the decline; oher threats include disease, small population sizes that make the populations vulnerable to extirpation from catastrophic events, and climate change.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (26Aug2013)

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 California (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (29Apr2014)
Comments on USESA: USFWS (2002, 2014) determined endangered status for the southern California distinct population segment and the northern distinct population segment.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R8 - California-Nevada
IUCN Red List Category: EN - Endangered

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Rana muscosa occurs in the southern Sierra Nevada of California and in mountains to the south in southern California. In southern California south of the Sierra Nevada, the historical range extended from Palomar Mountain in San Diego County northward and westward through the San Jacinto, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel Mountains of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties; these formed four isolated clusters of montane populations (Vredenburg et al. 2007). Additionally, the species occurred as an isolated cluster of populations on Breckenridge Mountain, south of the Kern River in Kern County, and in the Sierra Nevada (west of the crest) in Tulare, Inyo and Fresno counties, extending north to Mather Pass (Vredenburg et al. 2007). The mountain ridges that separate the headwaters of the South Fork Kings River from the Middle Fork Kings River, from Mather Pass to the Monarch Divide, form the northern border of the range.

Rana muscosa is now extirpated on Palomar and Breckenridge mountains and in much of the former range elsewhere in southern California and the southern Sierra Nevada (USFWS 2006, 2012; Vredenburg et al. 2007). In the mountains of southern California, it exists as highly isolated populations (USFWS 2012). Historical elevational range in the mountains of southern California was 1,220-7,560 feet (370-2,290 meters (Stebbins 1985; USFWS 2002, 2012).

Area of Occupancy: 6-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Designated critical habitat in southern California south of the Sierra Nevada encompasses 33.5 square kilometers; this includes all known occupied habitat plus some historical habitat that is not known to be currently occupied (USFWS 2006). A probably comparably small area of additional occupied habitat exists in the southern Sierra Nevada.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Historically, Rana muscosa was documented in approximately 166 localities in creeks and drainages in the mountains of southern California (Jennings and Hayes 1994). Vredenburg et al. (2007) determined that Rana muscosa occurred historically at only 79 localities (they defined each historic locality as a circle centered on the point representing their interpretation of the locality description and with a radius of 1 km). Currently the species exists as nine populations in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto mountains (USFWS 2012). An experimental reestablishment area exists in the San Jacinto Mountains (USFWS 2012).

California Department of Fish and Game (2011) determined that Rana muscosa currently occupies 129 localities within 17 HU12 watersheds in the Sierra Nevada and 16 localities across 8 watersheds in the Transverse and Peninsular ranges of southern California.

Population Size: 250 - 2500 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but probably is in the low 1000s at most. Most populations include fewer than 100 post-metamorphic individuals (California Department of Fish and Game 2011).

In southern California south of the Sierra Nevada, estimated population size in 2003 was around 183 adults (see USFWS 2006); all populations remain precariously small and apparently total fewer than 200 adults (USFWS 2012)..

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Vredenburg et al. (cited by Macey et al. 2001) stated that there are only 3-4 healthy populations in the southern Sierra Nevada.

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats in the mountains of southern California include the following (USFWS 2012): Metapopulation dynamics have been severely interrupted by the presence of predatory nonnative trout in waterways (trout have eliminated and replaced populations rangewide, fragmented the remaining habitat, isolated extant populations in marginal habitat, and currently inhibit natural dispersal, recolonization, and recruitment in the historical range). Physical isolation of populations has caused genetic isolation (inbreeding has been detected in three populations, and genetic bottlenecks have been detected in all populations). A virulent fungal pathogen has been detected in all populations and appears to be inhibiting recruitment of the juvenile life stage. Catastrophic natural events such as wildfires and flooding greatly increase the likelihood that the small, isolated populations will become extirpated.

USFS has protected and managed the majority of southern Rana muscosa habitat, but recreational activities continue to impact habitat at three of nine southern R. muscosa populations (Vincent Gulch, Dark Canyon, and Fuller Mill Creek). Illegal marijuana cultivation has impacted four occupied sites since listing (Devil's Canyon, Bear Gulch, Vincent Gulch, and City Creek). Repeated impacts from roadwork activities (sedimentation, contamination, and introduction of invasive plant species) have continued in two occupied southern R. muscosa occurrences. Long-term fire suppression caused the increase of fuel loads and wildfire risk rangewide. Fire thoroughly burned two occupied sites (Devil's Canyon and East Fork City Creek) resulting in a decline of R. muscosa at City Creek. The remaining seven R. muscosa populations in the mountains of southern California remain at an extreme risk of fire and could be exposed to impacts from fire management activities in the future. This is the most significant risk to the habitat of southern R. muscosa. Source: USFWS (2012).

The widespread introduction of nonnative trout contributed to the decline of this species through predation. All populations in the mountains of southern California are now isolated in marginal habitat in the headwaters of tributaries. Nonnative trout occupy the downstream waters (dispersal and migratory routes) at five of nine occupied localities (South Fork Big Rock Creek, Bear Gulch, Vincent Gulch, Fuller Mill Creek, and Dark Canyon) and upstream at one (Tahquitz-Willow Creek). Nonnative trout have already fragmented and reduced available habitat. They currently prevent recolonization of historically occupied areas, disrupting metapopulation dynamics, and as such, increase the vulnerability of populations to wildfire and flooding, and increase the likelihood of inbreeding. Source: USFWS (2012).

The chytrid fungus (Bd), has been identified as having potentially catastrophic effects (localized extinction) on mountain yellow-legged frog populations. Populations in southern California have low infection rates, indicating that some adults are persisting and are likely capable of reproducing. The offspring of these individuals will likely be vulnerable to mortality caused by chytridiomycosis until they reach adulthood but are particularly susceptible immediately following metamorphosis. Therefore, while Bd poses a significant risk to the small and isolated populations, persistent individuals may be able to replenish these populations with time if enough survive to reproductive maturity. Additional information is needed regarding the effects of Bd on Rana muscosa populations in the southern California mountains, particularly with consideration of reintroduction, augmentation, and translocation efforts occurring. Other pathogens could have negative effects on these populations, although they currently appear to have little to no impact on the wild populations. Source: USFWS (20102).

Populations in the southern Califronia mountains face a high extinction risk even from natural environmental fluctuations due to the vulnerabilities associated with few, small, isolated populations. Genetic variability is low in all populations, and each population appears to be bottlenecked. Inbreeding thus far has been minimal but is evident in three of the nine populations. Finally, metapopulation dynamics are severely inhibited, possibly preventing the natural recovery of populations through recolonization. Source: USFWS (2012).

Impacts from ongoing and future climate change (e.g., increased average temperatures, more frequent high temperature events, potentially decreased precipitation, and decreased snowpack leading to decreased stream flows in snow-fed waters) are likely to have negative effects on yellow-legged frogs through habitat reduction and alteration, including problems associated with increased drought and increased fire frequency. UV-B radiation, acid precipitation, and contaminants may potentially impact yellow-legged frog populations, but the past and present effects of these factors are poorly known. Source: USFWS (2012).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 70-90%
Short-term Trend Comments: Steep declines have continued during the past three generations (probably nearly three decades) (California Department of Fish and Game 2011).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 70-90%
Long-term Trend Comments: A precipitous decline in Rana muscosa/Rana sierrae appears to have occurred over the past 3-4 decades (Bradford 1991; USFWS 1999; Vredenburg et al., in Lannoo 2005). For the Rana muscosa/Rana sierrae complex as a whole, Jennings and Hayes (1994) mapped many more extirpated populations than extant populations.

Of the 79 historical R. muscosa sites studied by Vredenburg et al. (2007), only 3 sites contained frogs when revisited between 1995 and 2005 (96 percent extirpation rate). Rana muscosa probably has been extirpated from more than 99% of the historical range in southern California south of the Sierra Nevada (USFWS 2002).

Within the Sierra Nevada, 94 (86 percent) of 109 R. muscosa population localities analyzed (i.e., with sufficient data) are currently extirpated; within the mountain ranges of southern California, 48 (89 percent) of 54 historical R. muscosa population localities analyzed are extirpated (California Department of Fish and Game 2011).

Within the Sierra Nevada, 16 (59 percent) of 27 watersheds historically occupied by R. muscosa and having sufficient survey data no longer have R. muscosa populations; in the mountain ranges of southern California, R muscosa are extirpated from 36 (88 percent) of 43 watersheds for which adequate are available (California Department of Fish and Game 2011).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: Introductions of non-native fishes in lakes and ponds should be avoided.

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) Rana muscosa occurs in the southern Sierra Nevada of California and in mountains to the south in southern California. In southern California south of the Sierra Nevada, the historical range extended from Palomar Mountain in San Diego County northward and westward through the San Jacinto, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel Mountains of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties; these formed four isolated clusters of montane populations (Vredenburg et al. 2007). Additionally, the species occurred as an isolated cluster of populations on Breckenridge Mountain, south of the Kern River in Kern County, and in the Sierra Nevada (west of the crest) in Tulare, Inyo and Fresno counties, extending north to Mather Pass (Vredenburg et al. 2007). The mountain ridges that separate the headwaters of the South Fork Kings River from the Middle Fork Kings River, from Mather Pass to the Monarch Divide, form the northern border of the range.

Rana muscosa is now extirpated on Palomar and Breckenridge mountains and in much of the former range elsewhere in southern California and the southern Sierra Nevada (USFWS 2006, 2012; Vredenburg et al. 2007). In the mountains of southern California, it exists as highly isolated populations (USFWS 2012). Historical elevational range in the mountains of southern California was 1,220-7,560 feet (370-2,290 meters (Stebbins 1985; USFWS 2002, 2012).

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 state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CA Fresno (06019), Inyo (06027), Kern (06029)*, Los Angeles (06037), Riverside (06065), San Bernardino (06071), San Diego (06073)*, Tulare (06107)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
18 Upper Kern (18030001)+, South Fork Kern (18030002)+, Middle Kern-Upper Tehachapi- (18030003)+*, Upper Tule (18030006)+*, Upper Kaweah (18030007)+, Upper King (18030010)+, Los Angeles (18070105)+*, San Gabriel (18070106)+, San Jacinto (18070202)+, Santa Ana (18070203)+, San Luis Rey-Escondido (18070303)+*, Owens Lake (18090103)+, Antelope-Fremont Valleys (18090206)+, Mojave (18090208)+*, Whitewater River (18100201)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small frog.
Reproduction Comments: At lower elevations, breeding occurs primarily during March-June, May-August at higher elevations. At high elevations, larvae require 2-3 summers to reach metamorphosis (Bradford 1991). Individuals become sexually mature 3-4 years following metamorphosis (Zweifel 1955).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Individuals may move hundreds of meters between summer and winter habitats (Matthews and Pope 1999).

Matthews and Pope (1999) found that home range size was largest (53-9,807 square meters) in September. In the high Sierra Nevada, overland movements exceeding 66 meters were observed in 17 percent of tagged frogs; movement between lakes 1 kilometer apart was detected; 97 percent of tagged frogs wintered in the same lake in consecutive years (Pope and Matthews 2001).

Seven of 20 frogs translocated 144-630 meters returned to their original capture site within 30 days; translocation was stressful (frogs lost body mass) (Matthews 2003).

Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, High gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Pool
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: The habitat includes sunny riverbanks, meadow streams, isolated pools, and lake borders in the Sierra Nevada, cool rocky stream courses fed by springs and snow melt in southern California. The species seems to prefer sloping banks with rocks or vegetation to the water's edge (Stebbins 1985). Zweifel (1955) observed that the frogs in southern California are typically found in steep gradient streams in the chaparral belt and may range into small meadow streams at higher elevations. In contrast, Sierran frogs are most abundant in high elevation lakes and slow-moving portions of streams. This frog seldom is found away from water, but it may cross upland areas in moving between summer and winter habitats (Matthews and Pope 1999). Wintering sites include areas nearshore under ledges and in deep underwater crevices (Matthews and Pope 1999).

In southern California, USFWS (2006) concluded that Rana muscosa requires the following habitat elements: (1) Water source(s) found between 1,214 to 7,546 feet (370 to 2,300 meter) in elevation that are permanent. Water sources include, but are not limited to, streams, rivers, perennial creeks (or permanent plunge pools within intermittent creeks), pools (i.e., a body of impounded water that is contained above a natural dam) and other forms of aquatic habitat. The water source should maintain a natural flow pattern including periodic natural flooding. Aquatic habitats that are used by mountain yellow-legged frog for breeding purposes must maintain water during the entire tadpole growth phase, which can last for up to 2 years. During periods of drought, or less than average rainfall, these breeding sites may not hold water long enough for individuals to complete metamorphosis, but they would still be considered essential breeding habitat in wetter years. Further, the aquatic includes: a. Bank and pool substrates consisting of varying percentages of soil or silt, sand, gravel cobble, rock, and boulders; b. Open gravel banks and rocks projecting above or just beneath the surface of the water for sunning posts; c. Aquatic refugia, including pools with bank overhangs, downfall logs or branches, and/or rocks to provide cover from predators; and d. Streams or stream reaches between known occupied sites that can function as corridors for movement between aquatic habitats used as breeding and/or foraging sites. (2) Riparian habitat and upland vegetation (e.g., ponderosa pine, montane hardwoodconifer, montane riparian woodlands, and chaparral) extending 262 feet (80 meters) from each side of the centerline of each identified stream and its tributaries, that provides areas for feeding and movement of mountain yellow-legged frog, with a canopy overstory not exceeding 85 percent that allows sunlight to reach the stream and thereby provide basking areas for the species.

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Adults of the Rana muscosa/Rana sierrae complex eat aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and anuran larvae; availability of larval anuran prey may be an important factor in distribution, body condition, and survival of adults (Pope and Matthews 2002). Larvae eat algae, organic debris, plant tissue, and minute organisms in water.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: These primarily diurnal frogs are inactive during the coldest months. The seasonal period of inactivity at high elevations lasts 7-9 months (Pope and Matthews 2002).
Length: 8 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Recommended conservation actions for the distinct population segment in the mountains of southern California include the following (USFWS 2012): 1) Nonnative trout removal and barrier construction: a) Continue trout removal efforts adjacent to extant populations. b) Prioritize future trout removal locations according to areas needed to re-establish connectivity and maintain self-sustaining metapopulations. 2) Continue to survey for and monitor existing populations annually. 3) Survey for unidentified extant populations. Use information on previous survey extent and effort, and the expertise of field biologists to prioritize additional survey areas potentially supporting as yet unidentified extant populations. 4) Increase "assisted rearing" capacity: a) Maintain representatives from each distinct population in biosecure captive settings (assurance populations) in order to safeguard against catastrophic impacts (fire, flooding, and drought). Increase space available to breed and support all lifestages of captive individuals and increase care staff. Establish pedigrees for captive breeding. b) Experiment with alternate breeding techniques such as creating and utilizing outdoor ponds, utilizing existing pools in or along streams, seeking assistance from previous or current research/hatchery facilities, soliciting the assistance of private breeders, or other novel concepts for breeding this species . 5) Experiment with release strategies including releasing multiple life stages and greater numbers of individuals per release. Consider new techniques for increasing survivorship in the wild (e.g., caging tadpoles or providing other protections from predation or disease). Identify specific populations where translocation from and to will be a more viable option than captive rearing. 6) Use modeling as a tool to guide management actions and determine where the reestablishment of populations should occur to establish and maintain self-sustaining connectivity. 7) Analyze the effects of Bd: a) Historical effects: Analyze museum specimens to address the possibility that Bd caused the historical rangewide decline. b) Current effects: Test all animals found in the wild strategically to determine the infection intensity of each population and each age class within a population. 8) Develop an approved Recovery Outline.

California Department of Fish and Game (2011) made the following conservation recommendations for Rana sierrae and Rana muscosa: Continue resource assessment efforts, throughout the historical range, to discover previously unknown populations. Special focus should be given those watersheds that have not been surveyed within the past 10 years but have historical occurrences, or high probability of occurrence as determined by the species distribution model. Continue to implement and support projects that stabilize existing populations and/or expand distribution within each of the six genetic clades, such as: removing non-native trout from targeted water bodies to benefit frog populations; identifying water bodies whose non-native fish population will likely expire naturally and provide fish free habitat for frog translocations; removing non-native trout from targeted water bodies to provide fish free habitat for frog translocations. Continue to manage fisheries within the historical range of frogs in a manner that does not conflict with frog conservation goals, such as: halting fish stocking in areas harboring existing frog populations or in areas identified for native species management in an Aquatic Biodiversity Management Plan' evaluating current stocking techniques and protocols to minimize stocking related impacts on frogs; evaluating potential impacts to non-game species, via the PSEP process, as mandated by the Hatchery and Stocking Program Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement. Continue monitoring frog population trends and Bd infection levels to establish long-term population baselines and evaluate conservation efforts. Continue activities that support research directed at frog conservation goals, with special focus given research directed at translocating frogs in a Bd positive environment and captive breeding and rearing, such as: sharing California Department of Fish and Game data sets and analyses with the research community; collaborating with scientists to implement translocations in a manner appropriate to test a hypothesis; continuing to issue scientific collecting permits for research critical to the conservation and recovery of the frogs.

Restoration Potential: Rana muscosa/Rana sierrae populations that have been extirpated or reduced as a result of fish introduction can recover to predisturbance levels after fish disappear, if a nearby source population of frogs exists (Knapp et al. 2001). Several agencies (National Park Service, CDFG and U.S. Forest Service) have begun and/or planned recovery efforts involving removal of introduced fishes, and a number of populations have recovered (Vredenburg 2004).
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Basins with a variety of deep lakes and shallow ponds may be the most appropriate reserves for this declining species (Pope and Matthews 2001).
Management Requirements: Conservation recommendations for the southern California population include: (1) Installation of signage along trails adjacent to occupied areas to encourage the public to remain on designated trails; (2) removal of picnic equipment or campsites (barbeque pits, picnic tables) adjacent to occupied areas; (3) organization of workshops to educate campground permittees about this population; (4) acquisition of habitat within private inholdings; (5) assignment of additional patrols to prevent illegal suction dredge mining within the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area of Angeles National Forest; and (6) relocation of a trail adjacent to an area within Little Rock Canyon (USFWS 2002).

Conservation actions currently include captive breeding and releases of captive-raised individuals (USFWS 2012). Future efforts will also include translocations within and between populations to increase the size, distribution, and connectivity of populations, as well as to ameliorate genetic effects associated with small population size (USFWS 2012). However, in some circumstances, translocation of adults in the Rana muscosa/Rana sierrae complex may not be an effective conservation tool; frogs may return to original capture site and are stressed by translocation (Matthews 2003).

Nonnative trout removal has occurred at Little Rock Creek, Dark Canyon, and Fuller Mill Creek. These efforts
appear to be critical in assisting the rebound of these populations. Trout removal is also being considered as a management tool at other localities (USFWS 2012).

Some populations appear to be benefitting from both recreational closures and trout removal efforts (USFWS 2012).

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: 27Aug2013
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 23Aug2013
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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  • Blackburn, L., P. Nanjappa, and M. J. Lannoo. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Copyright, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA.

  • Bradford, D. F. 1989. Allotopic distribution of native fishes and introduced fishes in high Sierra Nevada lakes of California: implication of the negative effect of fish introductions. Copeia 1989:775-778.

  • Bradford, D. F. 1991. Mass mortality and extinction in a high-elevation population of RANA MUSCOSA. J. Herpetol. 25:174-177.

  • Bradford, D. F., C. Swanson, and M. S. Gordon. 1992. Effects of low pH and aluminum on two declining species of amphibians in the Sierra Nevada, California. J. Herpetol. 26:369-377.

  • California Department of Fish and Game. 2011. A status review of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae and Rana muscosa. Report to the Fish and Game Commission.

  • Camp, C.L. 1917. Notes on the systematic status of the toads and frogs of California. University of California Publications in Zoology. 17:115-125.

  • Davidson, C., H. B. Shaffer, and M. R. Jennings. 2002. Spatial tests of the pesticide drift, habitat destruction, UV-B, and climate-change hypotheses for California amphibian declines. Conservation Biology 16:1588-1601.

  • Drost, C. A., and G. M. Fellers. 1996. Collapse of a regional frog fauna in the Yosemite area of the California Sierra Nevada, USA. Conservation Biology 10:414-425.

  • Fellers, G. M., D. E. Green, and J. E. Longcore. 2001. Oral chytridiomycosis in the mountain yellow-legged frog. Copeia 2001:945-953.

  • 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.

  • Frost, D. R. 2010. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 5.4 (8 April 2010). Electronic Database accessible at http://research.amnh.org/herpetology/amphibia/index.php. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.

  • Green, D.M. 1986a. Systematics and evolution of western North American frogs allied to Rana aurora and Rana boylii: karyological evidence. Systematic Zoology 35:273-282.

  • Green, D.M. 1986b. Systematics and evolution of western North American frogs allied to Rana aurora and Rana boylii: electrophoretic evidence. Systematic Zoology 35:283-296.

  • Jennings, M. R., and M. P. Hayes. 1994. Amphibian and reptile species of special concern in California. Final Report submitted to the California Department of Fish and Game, Inland Fisheries Division. Contract No. 8023. 255 pp.

  • Knapp, R. A., K. R. Matthews, and O. Sarnelle. 2001. Resistance and resilience of alpine lake fauna to fish introductions. Ecological Monographs 71:401-421.

  • Knapp, R. A., and K. R. Matthews. 2000. Non-native fish introductions and the decline of the mountain yellow-legged frog from within protected areas. Conservation Biology 14:428-438.

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