- (Schreber, 1782)
Northern Leopard Frog
Other English Common Names: northern leopard frog
Rana pipiens Schreber, 1782
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s):
Lithobates pipiens (Schreber, 1782) (TSN 775108)
French Common Names: grenouille léopard
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101454
Element Code: AAABH01170
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates
- Frogs and Toads
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
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 pipiens
Taxonomic Comments: Much published information on "Rana pipiens" actually pertains to other species that have been described or recognized since the early 1970s.
Hoffman and Blouin (2004) used mtDNA data to develop a hypothesis regarding the evolutionary history and phylogeography of Rana pipiens.
Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 15Apr2002
Global Status Last Changed: 26Nov2001
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range throughout much of the U.S. and southern Canada; still common in many areas and in a diverse array of pristine and disturbed habitats; populations have declined in some areas due to habitat loss and degradation, overexploitation, interactions with non-native species, and unknown causes, but the overall range remains essentially undiminished.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5
National Status: N5
U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Arizona (S2), California (S2), Colorado (S3), Connecticut (S2), Idaho (S2), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S2), Iowa (S5), Kentucky (S3), Maine (S3), Maryland (S4), Massachusetts (S3S4), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (S4), Missouri (S2), Montana (S1,S4), Navajo Nation (S2), Nebraska (S5), Nevada (S2S3), New Hampshire (S3), New Jersey (SNR), New Mexico (S1), New York (S5), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oregon (S1S2), Pennsylvania (S2S3), Rhode Island (S2), South Dakota (S5), Texas (S1), Utah (S3), Vermont (S4), Washington (S1), West Virginia (S1), Wisconsin (S4?), Wyoming (S3)
Alberta (S2), British Columbia (S1), Labrador (S3S4), Manitoba (S4), New Brunswick (S5), Northwest Territories (S1S2), Nova Scotia (S5), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (S4S5), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S3)
Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):E,SC,NAR
Comments on COSEWIC: Southern Mountain population (BC) is designated Endangered. Western Boreal/Prairie populations (NT, AB, SK, MB) are designated Special Concern. Eastern population (ON, QC, NB, NS, NI, LB) is designated Not At Risk.
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: Range extends from the Great Slave Lake, Hudson Bay, and Labrador, Canada, south to southern New England, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Arizona, west to southeastern British Columbia, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and eastern California (Conant and Collins 1991, Stebbins 2003). Distribution is spotty in the west, where this frog has been introduced in many localities.
Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Represented by many and/or large occurrences throughout most of the range. Ranked S4 or S5 in more than 15 states/provinces.
Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size likely is in the hundreds of thousands or millions.
Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats and degree of threat vary greatly across the range. Threats include habitat loss, commercial overexploitation, and, in some areas, probably competition/predation by bullfrogs or other introduced species. Exposure to pH 5.5 or lower increases vulnerability to bacterial infection (Simon et al. 2002). Decline in Rocky Mountains (Corn et al. 1989) is not due to acidification of breeding habitats (Corn and Vertucci 1992). Laboratory results suggests that there may be an interaction between crowding, temperature, and mortality from bacterial infection (e.g., red-leg disease); there was higher mortality when frogs were subjected to crowding and high temperatures (Brodkin et al. 1992). In Ontario, Canada, leopard frog population density was negatively affected by vehicular traffic within a radius of 1.5 km (Carr and Fahrig 2001).
Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Probably declining in population size, area of occupancy, and condition of occurrences.
Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Still widespread and common in many areas, especially in lowland areas, but many other populations appear to have declined, especially in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, where the species no longer is extant in most localities where historically it occurred (Corn and Fogleman 1984; Corn et al. 1989; Koch and Peterson 1995; J. Reichel, unpublished map, 1996). Has nearly disappeared from the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, though natural wetland habitats remain apparently undisturbed with acceptable water quality (Koch and Peterson 1995). Apparently extirpated from most of historical range in Washington (Leonard et al. 1999). Not observed in recent years in the few historical localities in Oregon (Csuti et al. 1997). Local extirpations have been reported for Alberta (Russell and Bauer 1993) and British Columbia (Orchard 1992). Declined in northwestern Indiana between the 1930s and 1990s (Brodman et al. 2002).
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.
Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information
(>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles))
Range extends from the Great Slave Lake, Hudson Bay, and Labrador, Canada, south to southern New England, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Arizona, west to southeastern British Columbia, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and eastern California (Conant and Collins 1991, Stebbins 2003). Distribution is spotty in the west, where this frog has been introduced in many localities.
U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK
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
||County Name (FIPS Code)
El Dorado (06017)*,
El Paso (08041),
La Plata (08067),
Rio Blanco (08103),
Bear Lake (16007),
Twin Falls (16083),
La Porte (18091)*,
St. Joseph (18141),
Rio Arriba (35039),
San Juan (35045),
San Miguel (35047),
Santa Fe (35049),
White Pine (32033)
Box Elder (49003),
Salt Lake (49035),
San Juan (49037),
Pend Oreille (53051)+*,
Walla Walla (53071)+*,
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed
||Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
Upper Androscoggin (01040001)+,
Piscataqua-Salmon Falls (01060003)+,
Upper Connecticut (01080101)+,
Middle Connecticut (01080201)+,
Lower Connecticut (01080205)+,
Little Calumet-Galien (04040001)+,
St. Joseph (04050001)+,
St. Joseph (04100003)+,
St. Marys (04100004)+,
Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201)+*,
Little Scioto-Tygarts (05090103)+,
Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+,
Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)+,
South Fork Licking (05100102)+,
Lower Kentucky (05100205)+,
Upper Wabash (05120101)+,
Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+,
Upper White (05120201)+,
Lower East Fork White (05120208)+*
Little Bighorn (10080016)+,
Upper Tongue (10090101)+,
North Platte Headwaters (10180001)+,
Upper North Platte (10180002)+,
Pathfinder-Seminoe Reservoirs (10180003)+,
Middle North Platte-Casper (10180007)+,
Glendo Reservoir (10180008)+,
Upper Laramie (10180010)+*,
Lower Laramie (10180011)+,
South Platte Headwaters (10190001)+*,
Upper South Platte (10190002)+,
Middle South Platte-Cherry Creek (10190003)+,
St. Vrain (10190005)+,
Cache La Poudre (10190007)+*,
Keg-Weeping Water (10240001)+,
Upper Arkansas (11020002)+,
Cimarron headwaters (11040001)+,
Canadian headwaters (11080001)+,
Upper Canadian (11080003)+,
Upper Rio Grande (13020101)+,
Rio Chama (13020102)+,
Rio Grande-Santa Fe (13020201)+,
Rio Grande-Albuquerque (13020203)+,
Rio Puerco (13020204)+,
Arroyo Chico (13020205)+,
Rio San Jose (13020207)+,
Rio Salado (13020209)+,
Pecos headwaters (13060001)+
Colorado headwaters (14010001)+,
Colorado headwaters-Plateau (14010005)+,
Upper Gunnison (14020002)+,
North Fork Gunnison (14020004)+,
Lower Gunnison (14020005)+,
Westwater Canyon (14030001)+,
Upper Dolores (14030002)+,
San Miguel (14030003)+,
Lower Dolores (14030004)+,
Upper Colorado-Kane Springs (14030005)+,
New Fork (14040102)+,
Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir (14040106)+,
Blacks Fork (14040107)+,
Great Divide closed basin (14040200)+,
Upper Yampa (14050001)+,
Little Snake (14050003)+,
Upper White (14050005)+,
Lower White (14050007)+,
Lower Green-Diamond (14060001)+,
Lower Green-Desolation Canyon (14060005)+,
Lower Green (14060008)+*,
San Rafael (14060009)+,
Upper Lake Powell (14070001)+,
Lower Lake Powell (14070006)+,
Upper San Juan (14080101)+,
Blanco Canyon (14080103)+,
Middle San Juan (14080105)+,
Lower San Juan-Four Corners (14080201)+,
Lower San Juan (14080205)+
Lower Colorado-Marble Canyon (15010001)+,
Hualapai Wash (15010007)+,
Upper Virgin (15010008)+,
Lower Virgin (15010010)+,
Meadow Valley Wash (15010013)+*,
Little Colorado headwaters (15020001)+*,
Upper Little Colorado (15020002)+,
Upper Puerco (15020006)+,
Middle Little Colorado (15020008)+,
Chevelon Canyon (15020010)+,
Canyon Diablo (15020015)+,
Lower Little Colorado (15020016)+,
Moenkopi Wash (15020018)+,
San Francisco (15040004)+,
Upper Salt (15060103)+,
Upper Verde (15060202)+,
Lower Verde (15060203)+
Upper Bear (16010101)+,
Central Bear (16010102)+,
Bear Lake (16010201)+,
Middle Bear (16010202)+,
Little Bear-Logan (16010203)+,
Lower Bear-Malad (16010204)+,
Upper Weber (16020101)+,
Lower Weber (16020102)+,
Utah Lake (16020201)+,
Spanish Fork (16020202)+,
Hamlin-Snake Valleys (16020301)+,
Rush-Tooele Valleys (16020304)+*,
Southern Great Salt Lake Desert (16020306)+,
Curlew Valley (16020309)+,
Great Salt Lake (16020310)+,
Upper Sevier (16030001)+,
East Fork Sevier (16030002)+,
Middle Sevier (16030003)+,
San Pitch (16030004)+,
Lower Sevier (16030005)+,
Escalante Desert (16030006)+,
Beaver Bottoms-Upper Beaver (16030007)+,
Lower Beaver (16030008)+,
Upper Humboldt (16040101)+,
Lake Tahoe (16050101)+*,
Pyramid-Winnemucca Lakes (16050103)+,
Granite Springs Valley (16050104)+*,
Upper Carson (16050201)+,
Middle Carson (16050202)+*,
Carson Desert (16050203)+*,
Long-Ruby Valleys (16060007)+,
Spring-Steptoe Valleys (16060008)+,
Dry Lake Valley (16060009)+
Upper Kootenai (17010101)+,
Lower Kootenai (17010104)+*,
Flathead Lake (17010208)+,
Lower Clark Fork (17010213)+*,
Pend Oreille Lake (17010214)+*,
Pend Oreille (17010216)*,
Lower Spokane (17010307)*,
Little Spokane (17010308)*,
Lower Crab (17020015),
Upper Columbia-Priest Rapids (17020016)*,
Lower Yakima, Washington (17030003)*,
Idaho Falls (17040201)+*,
Upper Henrys (17040202)+,
Lower Henrys (17040203)+,
American Falls (17040206)+,
Lake Walcott (17040209)+,
Upper Snake-Rock (17040212)+,
Salmon Falls (17040213)+,
Big Lost (17040218)+*,
Big Wood (17040219)+*,
Little Wood (17040221)+,
C. J. Idaho (17050101)+,
Middle Snake-Succor (17050103)+,
South Fork Boise (17050113)+*,
Lower Boise (17050114)+,
Lower Malheur (17050117)+,
Brownlee Reservoir (17050201)+*,
Lower Snake-Tucannon (17060107)*,
South Fork Clearwater (17060305)+,
Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula (17070101)*,
Walla Walla (17070102)*
Upper Pit (18020002)+*,
Middle Kern-Upper Tehachapi- (18030003)+*,
Upper Kaweah (18030007)+*,
Middle San Joaquin-Lower (18040001)+*,
Santa Ana (18070203)+*,
Surprise Valley (18080001)+*,
Crowley Lake (18090102)+,
Owens Lake (18090103)+*,
Salton Sea (18100204)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A medium-sized spotted frog.
General Description: A slim, long-legged, green or brownish frog usually with well-defined, pale-bordered, oval or round dark dorsal spots; white stripe on upper jaw; white or cream below; well-defined, pale dorsolateral ridges that are not inset at the posterior end; dark dorsal spots may be reduced or absent in young; during the breeding season, adult males have swollen, darked thumb bases and usually have vestigial oviducts; adults generally are 5-9 cm in snout-vent length, sometimes up to 11 cm (Stebbins 1985). In Minnesota and adjacent states, the dorsum sometimes has few or no dark dorsal spots or much dark pigment between the dark spots (Conant and Collins 1991).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from RANA PALUSTRIS in having rounded rather than squarish dorsal spots and in lacking yellow or orange pigment on the usually concealed surfaces of the hind limbs and groin. Differs from other leopard frogs as follows: RANA BLAIRI is never green, usually has a distinct pale spot on the eardrum, has the posterior end of the dorsolateral ridges inset or angled inward, and lacks vestigial oviducts in males. RANA CHIRICAHUENSIS has a "salt-and-pepper" pattern of small tubercles on the back of the thighs, and stockier proportions (Stebbins 1985). RANA ONCA is smaller, with shorter legs, the spotting toward the head often is reduced, and the underside of the hind limbs is yellow to yellow-orange (Stebbins 1985). RANA YAVAPAIENSIS is stockier and paler (Stebbins 1985). RANA BERLANDIERI is paler and has the dorsolateral ridges inset medially at the rear end.
Reproduction Comments: The time of egg deposition varies with latitude and elevation. Egg deposition occurs typically in April in southern Quebec, New York, and the Great Lakes region, late April to late May farther north in Manitoba and Nova Scotia (see Gilbert et al. 1994). In Colorado, eggs are laid mainly in early spring at low elevations, in late spring in the mountains (Hammerson 1999). Breeding often peaks when water temperatures reach about 10 C. At a particular site, egg deposition generally occurs within a span of about 10 days. Egg masses include several hundred to several thousand ova. Aquatic larvae metamorphose into small frogs in early to late summer, a few months after egg deposition. Females are sexually mature usually in two years in most areas, three years in high elevation populations. Density of egg masses often reaches a few hundred per ha in favorable habitat, sometimes >1000/ha.
Ecology Comments: In Michigan, the average nightly movement during rain was 36 m, occasionally moved more than 100 m. See Mazerolle (2001) for information on movement patterns of frogs in fragmented peat bogs in New Brunswick.
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Pool, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Northern leopard frogs live in the vicinity of springs, slow streams, marshes, bogs, ponds, canals, flood plains, reservoirs, and lakes; usually they are in or near permanent water with rooted aquatic vegetation. In summer, they commonly inhabit wet meadows and fields. The frogs take cover underwater, in damp niches, or in caves when inactive. Wintering sites are usually underwater, though some frogs possibly overwinter underground.
Eggs are laid and larvae develop in shallow, still, permanent water (typically), generally in areas well exposed to sunlight. Generally eggs are attached to vegetation just below the surface of the water. In northern Minnesota, successful reproduction in acidic bog water either does not occur or is a rare event (Karns 1992).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Metamorphosed frogs eat various small invertebrates obtained along water's edge or in nearby meadows or fields; rarely eats small vertebrates. Larvae eat algae, plant tissue, organic debris, and probably some small invertebrates.
Adult Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Circadian, Hibernates/aestivates
Length: 13 centimeters
Economic Comments: In some areas, has been subject to heavy commercial exploitation for research and teaching. For example, a harvest of over 100,000/year in Quebec was reported in the early 1980s (see Gilbert et al. 1994).
Not yet assessed
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.
Author: Hammerson, G.
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25Jan2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 25Jan2010
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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