Lithobates sylvaticus - (LeConte, 1825)
Wood Frog
Other English Common Names: wood frog
Synonym(s): Lithobates sylvatica (LeConte, 1825) ;Rana sylvatica LeConte, 1825
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Lithobates sylvaticus (LeConte, 1825) (TSN 775117)
French Common Names: grenouille des bois
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100332
Element Code: AAABH01200
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 sylvatica
Taxonomic Comments: Collins (1990) listed Colorado-Wyoming populations as a separate species, "Rana maslini," but this taxon is not recognized by most authorities (see Porter 1969, Bagdonas and Pettus 1976, Hammerson 1999, Crother et al. 2000, Frost 2010).

See Zeyl (1993) for information on allozyme variation and divergence among some populations in the central part of the range.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10May2016
Global Status Last Changed: 27Nov2001
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread in North America, abundant in many areas; not of conservation concern in the vast majority of the range, though many local populations have declined as a result of agricultural and residential development and intensive timber harvesting practices.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Nov1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (12Sep2011)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S2), Alaska (S5), Arkansas (S3), Colorado (S3), Connecticut (S4), Delaware (S4), District of Columbia (S2?), Georgia (S4), Idaho (SH), Illinois (S3), Indiana (S4), Kentucky (S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (S5), Missouri (S3), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S5), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S4?), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S5), South Carolina (S3), South Dakota (S1), Tennessee (S5), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S4), Wyoming (S1)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S4), Labrador (S4), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Northwest Territories (S4S5), Nova Scotia (S5), Nunavut (SU), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (S5), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S4), Yukon Territory (S5)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Candidate (Low) (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: Range extends from northern Alaska across boreal Canada to Labrador (Chubbs and Phillips 1998), and south to New Jersey, northern Georgia, and northern Idaho; spotty distribution south to northern Colorado in Rocky Mountains (Hammerson 1999); disjunct populations also occur in Arkansas-Missouri (Stebbins 1985, Conant and Collins 1991). Range extends farther north than that of any other North American amphibian.

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by thousands of occurrences (subpopulations).

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is likely more than 1,000,000.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very many (>125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Many occurrences have good viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species is not threatened overall, but threats to local populations include intensive timber harvesting practices that reduce canopy closure, understory vegetation, uncompacted forest litter, or coarse woody debris (moderately to well-decayed) in areas surrounding breeding sites (deMaynadier and Hunter 1999). Negative impacts of intensive timber harvesting extend at least 25-35 meters into uncut forest (deMaynadier and Hunter 1998).

Wood frogs are not likely to be at risk from present acidification inputs in the Rocky Mountains (Corn and Vertucci 1992).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Population trend is unknown but probably stable to slightly declining.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, likely less than 25% decline in in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from northern Alaska across boreal Canada to Labrador (Chubbs and Phillips 1998), and south to New Jersey, northern Georgia, and northern Idaho; spotty distribution south to northern Colorado in Rocky Mountains (Hammerson 1999); disjunct populations also occur in Arkansas-Missouri (Stebbins 1985, Conant and Collins 1991). Range extends farther north than that of any other North American amphibian.

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 AK, AL, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NFexotic, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

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)
AK Anchorage (02020), Bethel (CA) (02050), Denali (02068), Dillingham (CA) (02070)*, Fairbanks North Star (02090), Juneau (02110), Kenai Peninsula (02122), Kodiak Island (02150), Lake and Peninsula (02164), Matanuska-Susitna (02170), Northwest Arctic (02188), Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan (CA) (02201), Sitka (02220), Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon (CA) (02232), Southeast Fairbanks (CA) (02240), Valdez-Cordova (CA) (02261), Wrangell-Petersburg (CA) (02280), Yakutat (02282), Yukon-Koyukuk (CA) (02290)
AL Clay (01027), Cleburne (01029), Randolph (01111), Tallapoosa (01123)
AR Baxter (05005), Benton (05007), Carroll (05015)*, Crawford (05033)*, Franklin (05047)*, Independence (05063)*, Johnson (05071), Madison (05087), Marion (05089), Newton (05101), Stone (05137), Washington (05143)
CO Grand (08049), Jackson (08057), Larimer (08069)
ID Bonner (16017)*, Boundary (16021)*
MO Barry (29009), Carter (29035), Iron (29093), Jefferson (29099), Lincoln (29113), Linn (29115), Macon (29121), Marion (29127), Montgomery (29139), Oregon (29149), Reynolds (29179), Ripley (29181), Shannon (29203), St. Charles (29183), St. Louis (29189), Ste. Genevieve (29186)*, Stone (29209)*, Taney (29213)*, Warren (29219), Washington (29221)
OK Adair (40001)
SC Greenville (45045), Oconee (45073), Pickens (45077)
SD Day (46037)*, Marshall (46091), Roberts (46109)
WY Big Horn (56003), Carbon (56007), Johnson (56019), Sheridan (56033)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Saluda (03050109)+, Seneca (03060101)+, Tugaloo (03060102)+, Middle Coosa (03150106)+, Lower Coosa (03150107)+*, Upper Tallapoosa (03150108)+, Middle Tallapoosa (03150109)+
06 Upper French Broad (06010105)+
07 Upper Minnesota (07020001)+, South Fabius (07110003)+, South Fork Salt (07110006)+, Cuivre (07110008)+, Peruque-Piasa (07110009)+, Meramec (07140102)+, Big (07140104)+, Upper Mississippi-Cape Girardeau (07140105)+*
09 Bois De Sioux (09020101)+
10 Big Horn Lake (10080010)+, Upper Tongue (10090101)+, Middle Big Sioux Coteau (10170201)+*, North Platte Headwaters (10180001)+, Upper North Platte (10180002)+, Medicine Bow (10180004)+, Upper Laramie (10180010)+, Big Thompson (10190006)+*, Cache La Poudre (10190007)+, Lower Chariton (10280202)+, Little Chariton (10280203)+, Lower Missouri (10300200)+
11 Beaver Reservoir (11010001)+, James (11010002)+*, Bull Shoals Lake (11010003)+*, Middle White (11010004)+, Buffalo (11010005)+, Upper Black (11010007)+, Current (11010008)+, Eleven Point (11010011)+, Illinois (11110103)+, Robert S. Kerr Reservoir (11110104)+, Frog-Mulberry (11110201)+*, Dardanelle Reservoir (11110202)+
14 Colorado headwaters (14010001)+
17 Lower Kootenai (17010104)+*, Priest (17010215)+*
19 Prince of Wales (19010103)+, Mainland (19010201)+, Baranof-Chichagof Islands (19010203)+, Lynn Canal (19010301)+, Taku River (19010304)+, Yakutat Bay (19010401)+, Middle Copper River (19020102)+, Chitina River (19020103)+, Lower Copper River (19020104)+, Eastern Prince William Sound (19020201)+, Lower Kenai Peninsula (19020301)+, Upper Kenai Peninsula (19020302)+, Anchorage (19020401)+, Matansuka (19020402)+, Upper Susitna River (19020501)+, Chulitna River (19020502)+, Talkeetna River (19020503)+, Yentna River (19020504)+, Lower Susitna River (19020505)+, Redoubt-Trading Bays (19020601)+, Tuxdeni-Kamishak Bays (19020602)+, Shelikof Straight (19020702)+, Cook Inlet (19020800)+, Lake Clark (19030205)+, Lake Iliamna (19030206)+, Wood River (19030304)+*, Takotna River (19030403)+, Holitna River (19030404)+, Stony River (19030405)+, South Fork Kuskokwim River (19030407)+, Aniak (19030501)+, Kuskokwim Delta (19030502)+, White River (19040101)+, Eagle To Circle (19040401)+, Birch-Beaver Creeks (19040402)+, Yukon Flats (19040403)+, Ramparts (19040404)+, Tok (19040502)+, Delta River (19040504)+, Chena River (19040506)+, Tanana River (19040507)+, Nenana River (19040508)+, Tolovana River (19040509)+, Kantishna River (19040510)+, Alatna River (19040603)+, Lower Innoko River (19040803)+, Upper Kobuk River (19050302)+, Middle Kobuk River (19050303)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A medium-sized frog.
General Description: Dark "mask" across each eye; dorsolateral folds present; hind toes webbed; a light middorsal stripe may or may not be present; skin relatively smooth; maximum snout-vent length about 83 mm. Mature male: base of thumb swollen; averages slightly smaller and darker than adult female; expanded vocal sacs, one on each side, extend above forelimbs; breeding call: rapid series of 1-8 (usually 3-5) rough clacking notes; a chorus sounds somewhat like a group of softly quacking domestic ducks. Larvae: dorsum with blackish and olive-gray pigment; sides shiny bronze or pinkish; eyes dorsal; tail fin high, strongly arched dorsally; tail fins with dark spots and blotches; labial tooth rows 2/3 or 3/4; oral papillae encircle mouth, with wide gap above mandibles; papillae indented at angle of jaw, dense at sides of mouth; anus on right side at front end of ventral tail fin; maximum total length around 52 mm. Eggs: black above, whitish below, about 2 mm in diameter, each surrounded by two jelly envelopes, deposited usually communally in large globular masses about the size of a baseball or tennis ball and usually including several hundred eggs. Primary source: Hammerson (1999).
Reproduction Comments: Wood frogs emege from dormancy on land and migrate up to several hundred meters to breeding pools, where they breed explosively in winter or early to late spring, with the latest breeding in the far north or high elevations. Eggs are laid in winter in the Ozarks and southern Appalachians, late February in Maryland, February-March in Missouri, mainly March in southern New England, mostly late May-early June in Colorado; mean date of breeding increases 5.2 days per degree of latitude (Guttman et al. 1991). In a particular pool, most egg deposition occurs over a brief period of several days. Eggs hatch in about 1-2 weeks. Larvae metamorphose into small frogs in spring or summer, within a few months after egg deposition. The period from fertilization to emigration from the pond averages about 11 weeks in Michigan, 13 weeks in Maryland, 15-16 weeks in Virginia (Riha and Berven 1991). In Maryland, 20,262 juveniles emerged from a single pond in one year (Berven 1988). Individuals become sexually mature in 2-3 years (in Maryland, females mainly in 2 years, rarely in 1 year; Berven 1988).
Ecology Comments: Local tadpole density may exceed 15,000/cubic meter of water (Biesterfeldt et al., Copeia 1993:688-695).

In eastern Massachusetts, density in wintering areas near breeding pools ranged from 0 to 6.3 frogs per 100 sq m (Regosin et al. 2003).

Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrates up to several hundred meters between breeding ponds and nonbreeding terrestrial habitats. In Maine, 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.

Usually remains in an area <100 m across after leaving the breeding pond.

In the Shenandoah Mountains, dispersal data indicated than ponds separated by a distance greater than 1000 m should experience little gene flow (Berven and Grudzien 1991). In Minnesota, populations 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.

See Mazerolle (2001) for information on movement patterns in fragmented peat bogs in New Brunswick.

Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND, TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Wood frogs inhabit various kinds of wooded habitats, including the edges of ponds and streams and willow thickets and grass/willow/aspen associations. In winter or when otherwise inactive, they hide in logs, humus, leaf litter, or under logs and rocks. In winter upland habitat in eastern Massachusetts, adult males greatly outnumbered adult females in areas close to (within 65 meters of) breeding pools; two wintering areas were not used during the summer active period (Regosin et al. 2003).

Eggs are laid and larvae develop usually in vernal pools and other small fish-free ponds, temporary or permanent, in wooded (usually) or open areas. In the Shenandoah Mountains, breeding adults were 100% faithful to the ponds in which they first bred; approximately 18% of the juveniles dispersed to breed in ponds other than the one of origin (Berven and Grudzien 1991). Experiments and field observations by Hopey and Petranka (1994) indicate that adults are able to assess the presence of fishes in ponds and may change breeding sites accordingly to avoid those with predatory fishes. 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, mostly terrestrial forms. Larvae eat algae, plant tissue, organic debris, and minute organisms in water; capable of eating amphibian eggs and hatchlings and invertebrates as well (Petranka et al., Copeia 1994:691-697; Petranka and Kennedy 1999; Baldwin and Calhoun, 2002, Herpetol. Rev. 33:44-45).
Adult Phenology: Circadian, Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Circadian, Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Inactive during cold season in north and at high elevations. Primarily diurnal in northwest and in spring at high elevations, though breeding activities may occur at night as well. Most active in summer in damp conditions.

Wood frogs spend the winter on land and sometimes endure freezing of their blood and other extracellular body fluids. With warming weather they thaw out and proceed with their lives uninjured.

Colonial Breeder: Y
Length: 8 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Restoration Potential: Readily colonizes newly constructed suitable breeding habitat (Hopey and Petranka 1994). See Guttman et al. (1991) for information on a population that was successfully reintroduced into a portion of St. Louis County, Missouri.
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: 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).

References
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