Ascaphus truei - Stejneger, 1899
Coastal Tailed Frog
Other English Common Names: Pacific Tailed Frog
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ascaphus truei Stejneger, 1899 (TSN 173546)
French Common Names: grenouille-à-queue côtière
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104837
Element Code: AAABA01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Frogs and Toads
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Anura Ascaphidae Ascaphus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Nielson, M., K. Lohman, and J. Sullivan. 2001. Phylogeography of the tailed frog (Ascaphus truei): implications for the biogeography of the Pacific Northwest. Evolution 55:147-160.
Concept Reference Code: A01NIE01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ascaphus truei
Taxonomic Comments: Nielson et al. (2001) examined phylogeography of A. truei using mtDNA data. Based on the results of this study and on previous allozyme and morphological data, they recommended that the coastal and inland segments of A. truei be recognized as distinct species, A. truei (coastal) and A. montanus (inland). See also Ritland et al. (2000) for information on tailed frog phylogeography based on genetic variation.

Tailed frogs sometimes are placed in the family Leiopelmatidae. Stebbins (1985) placed them in the family Ascaphidae.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 02Feb2016
Global Status Last Changed: 05Oct2001
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Moderately widespread and locally common in the Pacific Northwest from British Columbia to northwestern California; may be detrimentally affected by habitat changes resulting from timber harvest (depends on surface geology and harvest practices), but exists in many young forests that have been harvested in the past.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (15May2001)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N3N4 (02Feb2016)

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 (S3S4), Oregon (S3), Washington (S4)
Canada British Columbia (S4)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: SC (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Special Concern (25Nov2011)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: This unusual frog of an ancient lineage has a scattered distribution in western British Columbia, where it occupies cool, clear, fast-flowing mountain streams and adjacent older forest. Habitats continue to be lost and degraded as a result of forestry and other human activities that occur throughout much of its Canadian distribution. Siltation of breeding streams and loss of older forest cover associated with resource use are main threats. Threats identified in the previous assessment in 2000 continue to degrade and fragment habitats, and new threats, such as run-of-river independent hydropower projects, have the potential for rapid and widespread increase throughout the species' Canadian range. Specialized habitat requirements, life history characteristics that include low reproductive potential, and patchy distribution make the frogs particularly vulnerable to human activities and climate change.

Status history: Designated Special Concern in May 2000. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2011.

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Cascades and the Pacific Coast from southern British Columbia south to northwestern California (Nielson et al. 2001, Stebbins 2003).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Many extant occurrences distributed throughout the range. Washington has 436 unique sites, many of which will combine into a smaller number of distinct occurrences (K. Dvornich, pers. comm., 1997). Oregon has approximately 60 occurrences.

Population Size: 10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total population size is unknown but likely exceeds 10,000. Common in suitable habitat.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Sensitive to logging and road building (Leonard et al. 1993). Logging and construction practices that increase water temperatures and siltation may have an adverse effect on tailed frog populations (Nussbaum et al. 1983, Welsh and Ollivier 1998). See also Bury and Corn (1988) and Corn and Bury (1989) for information on negative effects of timber harvest. Diller and Wallace (1999) emphasized that current timber harvest practices are not as detrimental as those used in the past. Despite negative effects of logging, this species frequently occurs in many young forests that have been harvested one or more times in the past. Sensitivity to timber harvest may depend on surface geology and harvest practices (Adams and Bury 2002, Welsh and Lind 2002).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Probably declining, based on habitat trends; few population data are available.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, unknown degree of decline in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly to moderately vulnerable.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Cascades and the Pacific Coast from southern British Columbia south to northwestern California (Nielson et al. 2001, Stebbins 2003).

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: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CA, OR, WA
Canada BC

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)
CA Del Norte (06015), Humboldt (06023), Mendocino (06045), Shasta (06089), Siskiyou (06093), Tehama (06103)*, Trinity (06105)
OR Clackamas (41005), Coos (41011), Curry (41015), Douglas (41019), Jackson (41029), Josephine (41033), Lane (41039), Lincoln (41041), Linn (41043), Marion (41047), Polk (41053), Tillamook (41057), Yamhill (41071)
WA Chelan (53007), Clallam (53009), Clark (53011), Cowlitz (53015), Grays Harbor (53027), Jefferson (53031), King (53033), Kittitas (53037), Lewis (53041), Mason (53045), Okanogan (53047), Pacific (53049), Pierce (53053), Skagit (53057), Skamania (53059), Snohomish (53061), Thurston (53067), Wahkiakum (53069), Whatcom (53073), Yakima (53077)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Methow (17020008)+, Lake Chelan (17020009)+, Upper Columbia-Entiat (17020010)+, Wenatchee (17020011)+, Upper Yakima (17030001)+, Naches (17030002)+, Lower Yakima, Washington (17030003)+, Middle Columbia-Hood (17070105)+, Lower Columbia-Sandy (17080001)+, Lewis (17080002)+, Lower Columbia-Clatskanie (17080003)+, Upper Cowlitz (17080004)+, Lower Cowlitz (17080005)+, Lower Columbia (17080006)+, Coast Fork Willamette (17090002)+, Upper Willamette (17090003)+, Mckenzie (17090004)+, North Santiam (17090005)+, South Santiam (17090006)+, Middle Willamette (17090007)+, Yamhill (17090008)+, Molalla-Pudding (17090009)+, Clackamas (17090011)+, Hoh-Quillayute (17100101)+, Queets-Quinault (17100102)+, Upper Chehalis (17100103)+, Lower Chehalis (17100104)+, Grays Harbor (17100105)+, Willapa Bay (17100106)+, Nehalem (17100202)+, Wilson-Trusk-Nestuccu (17100203)+, Siletz-Yaquina (17100204)+, Alsea (17100205)+, Siuslaw (17100206)+, North Umpqua (17100301)+, South Umpqua (17100302)+, Coos (17100304)+, Coquille (17100305)+, Sixes (17100306)+, Upper Rogue (17100307)+, Middle Rogue (17100308)+, Applegate (17100309)+, Lower Rogue (17100310)+, Illinois (17100311)+, Chetco (17100312)+, Fraser (17110001)+, Nooksack (17110004)+, Upper Skagit (17110005)+, Sauk (17110006)+, Lower Skagit (17110007)+, Stillaguamish (17110008)+, Skykomish (17110009)+, Snoqualmie (17110010)+, Lake Washington (17110012)+, Duwamish (17110013)+, Puyallup (17110014)+, Nisqually (17110015)+, Skokomish (17110017)+, Hood Canal (17110018)+, Puget Sound (17110019)+, Dungeness-Elwha (17110020)+, Crescent-Hoko (17110021)+
18 Smith (18010101)+, Mad-Redwood (18010102)+, Lower Eel (18010105)+, South Fork Eel (18010106)+*, Mattole (18010107)+, Big-Navarro-Garcia (18010108)+, Upper Klamath (18010206)+, Scott (18010208)+, Lower Klamath (18010209)+, Salmon (18010210)+, Trinity (18010211)+, South Fork Trinity (18010212)+, Lower Pit (18020003)+, Mccloud (18020004)+, Sacramento headwaters (18020005)+, Cow Creek (18020151)+, Cottonwood Creek (18020152)+*, Clear Creek-Sacramento River (18020154)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small frog with a tail-like appendage in males.
Reproduction Comments: Breeds May-October, mostly in fall. Fertilization is internal; male has a tail-like copulatory organ. Clutch size averages 44-75; eggs are laid in July, hatch in August-September. Larval period lasts 2-4 years in mountains and northern areas, 1 year in a few coastal Oregon populations (Bury and Adams 1999) and in lowland streams of California (Wallace and Diller 1998). May not breed until 7-8 years old or 6-8 years after metamorphosis (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Ecology Comments: Adult and subadult frogs usually are less commonly encountered than are larvae. For example, in California, Diller and Wallace (1999) found 693 A. truei larvae but only 32 metamorphosed individuals over four years in 54 of 72 randomly selected streams, though researchers have found higher densities in other areas. Diller and Wallace found 0.04-0.76 larvae per square meter (mean 0.24), whereas Hawkins et al. (1988) recorded mean densities of 0.58 to 4.40 larvae per square meter in three different classes of watersheds near Mt. St. Helens in Washington; two of the three sampled streams contained two larval cohorts.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, High gradient, Moderate gradient, Pool, Riffle, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Clear, cold swift-moving mountain streams with coarse substrates. Primarily in older forest sites; required microclimatic and microhabitat conditions are more common in older forests (Welsh 1990). Diller and Wallace (1999) reported that canopy cover, temperature, and forest age in managed forests were not significantly different between occupied and unoccupied stream reaches in northern California; however, this probably reflects past timber harvest patterns. May be found on land during wet weather near water in humid forests or in more open habitat. During dry weather stays on moist stream-banks. Lays eggs in long strings under stones in water.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Larva feed mostly on diatoms. Adults eat a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates.
Phenology Comments: Adults most active April-October, depending on locality.
Length: 5 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Maintenance of cool, forested, unsilted streams and stream corridors is a basic conservation need.
Monitoring Requirements: Wallace and Diller (1998) suggested that stream surveys for this species in coastal northern California be completed by early August (in some streams larvae are absent in fall).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Tailed Frogs

Use Class: Not applicable
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.
Mapping Guidance: For occurrence separations in suitable habitat, measure distances as stream-kilometers (not straight-line distance).
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Tailed frogs are closely tied to clean, cold streams. Adults will forage in upland habitat, but only during cool, wet weather (Nussbaum et al. 1983). Because upland habitat does not support reproduction or long-term residency, it comprises unsuitable habitat for purposes of occurrence separation.

Adults generally exhibit very limited movements. In Montana, no reproductively mature adults moved more than 40 meters from one year to the next (Daugherty and Sheldon 1982). In another Montana study, frogs made seasonal migrations that appeared to be related to avoidance of warm water temperatures (Adams and Frissell 2001); distances moved are uncertain but may have been a couple hundred meters or more. Also, during studies of old-growth forests in the early 1980s, adult Ascaphus were caught in pitfall traps more than 500 m from known streams, though perhaps rivulets were closer (R. B. Bury, pers. comm., 2000). This suggests that some tailed frogs might disperse multiple kilometers over their lifespan. Dispersal movements are poorly known, but it seems likely that considerable movement of larvae, juveniles, and even adults periodically occurs along stream corridors. The separation distance for suitable habitat reflects the likely low probability that occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent truly independent populations.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Gaines, E.; revised by G. Hammerson
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: 05May2004
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Gaines, E., and G. Hammerson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 05May2004
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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  • Ascaphus truei/Pacific Tailed Frog. Copyright Dave Fraser.

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  • Aubry, K.B., and P.A. Hall. 1991. Terrestrial amphibian communities in the southern Washington Cascade Range. Pages 327-337 in L. F. Ruggio, K. A. Aubry, A.B. Carey and M.H. Huff, eds. Wildlife and vegetation in unmanaged Douglas-fir forests. U. S. Forest Service, PNW Research Station, Portland, OR. PNW-GTR-285.

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