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Lithobates chiricahuensis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AMPHIBIA ANURA RANIDAE

Scientific Name: Lithobates chiricahuensis
Species Authority: (Platz and Mecham, 1979)
Common Name(s):
English Chiricahua Leopard Frog
Spanish Rana-de Chiricahua
Synonym(s):
Rana chiricahuensis Platz and Mecham, 1979
Taxonomic Notes: Northern populations of this species might represent a distinct species. Smith and Ciszar (2003) consider the record of L. pustulosus from 13km W Matáchic, Chihuahua, Mexico, to actually refer to L. chiricahuensis.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2ace ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Georgina Santos-Barrera, Geoffrey Hammerson, Michael Sredl
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Justification:
Listed as Vulnerable because of an observed population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations, inferred from a shrinkage in distribution due to habitat destruction and degradation, and the effects of exotic species, disease, and unknown factors. The generation length is estimated to be five years.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is known from Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, and from Mexico (Platz and Mecham 1979). The range of this species is divided into two areas. The first includes northern montane populations along the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau (= Mogollon Rim) in central and eastern Arizona and west-central New Mexico. The second includes southern populations located in the mountains and valleys south of the Gila River in south-eastern Arizona and south-western New Mexico, and extends into Mexico along the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental (Platz and Mecham 1979). Populations in the northern portion of the range might soon be described as a new species (Platz pers. comm.). Elevations of Chiricahua Leopard Frog localities range from 1,000-2,710m asl (Platz and Mecham 1979; Sredl et al. 1997; Smith and Chiszar 2003).
Countries:
Native:
Mexico; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is rare in suitable habitat. It is known from several dozen locations in Arizona and New Mexico, in addition to others elsewhere in the range. Local abundance appears to fluctuate greatly. Populations in stock tanks generally include fewer than 100 individuals. Historically, it occurred at 212 sites in Arizona, 170 in New Mexico, and 12-13 in Mexico (USFWS 2000). These numbers pertain to both R. chiricahuensis and the undescribed new species from the northern portion of the range. It is now absent from many historical localities and numerous mountain ranges, valleys, and drainages within its former range (USFWS 2000). Where still present, populations often are few, small, and widely scattered (USFWS 2000). Possibly some disappearances from historical sites represent natural fluctuations rather than long-term declines caused by human impacts, but in most areas disappearances appear to reflect real, on-going declines (USFWS 2000).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species occurs in a wide variety of permanent and semi-permanent aquatic systems in oak, mixed oak and pine woodlands, chaparral, grassland, and even desert habitats (Stebbins 1985b). The perennial or near-perennial habitats from which they are known or likely to have occurred and reproduced include springs, cienegas, earthen cattle tanks, small creeks, and slack water of main-stem rivers (Sredl and Jennings 2005). Many habitats are modified or artificial aquatic systems (Sredl et al. 1997; Sredl and Saylor 1998). Deep areas, root masses, and undercut banks are used when escaping capture. Habitat heterogeneity is likely important. The frogs will move into newly created suitable habitat rapidly, if near to occupied habitat (Sredl and Jennings 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The most important threats are disease (chytridiomycosis, documented in this species as early as 1992), non-native predators and competitors (bullfrogs, sport fish, crayfish), effects of small, isolated populations, loss of aquatic habitat through drying, damming, diverting, or siltation, and heavy grazing (USFWS 2002).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It occurs in Coconino, Tonto, Apache, Sitgreaves, Gila, and Coronado national forests (Jennings 1995; Sredl et al. 1997). Both the northern and southern populations of R. chiricahuensis are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2002, and a recovery team was established in 2003. Conservation actions will include both short-term interim actions to prevent further deterioration of the species’ status, and longer-term planning for eventual recovery of the species. Arizona Game and Fish Commission Order 41 prohibit the collection of this species from the wild in Arizona. It is included as Wildlife of Special Concern in Arizona (Arizona Game and Fish Department 1996). Priority research topics include identification of the importance of disease, pesticides and other contaminants, climate change, UV radiation, fire management, and possibly other threats to the status and recovery potential of the Chiricahua Leopard Frog. Also, research is needed on key aspects of the frog’s status, distribution, and ecology.

Citation: Georgina Santos-Barrera, Geoffrey Hammerson, Michael Sredl 2004. Lithobates chiricahuensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 November 2014.
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