Lithobates tarahumarae 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Ranidae

Scientific Name: Lithobates tarahumarae (Boulenger, 1917)
Common Name(s):
English Tarahumara Frog
Rana tarahumarae Boulenger, 1917
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2014. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6 (27 January 2014). New York, USA. Available at: (Accessed: 27 January 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A3e ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): James Rorabaugh, Georgina Santos-Barrera, Geoffrey Hammerson
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Listed as Vulnerable because of a population decline, projected to be more than 30% over the next 10 years, inferred from the possible impact of chytridiomycosis on this species.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species' historical range included extreme south-central Arizona, USA, (known from Tinaja, Sycamore, and Pena Blanca/Alamo canyons in the Atascosa-Pajarito-Tumacacori Mountains complex; and Gardner, Big Casa Blanca, and Adobe canyons in the Santa Rita Mountains; Rio Altar and Santa Cruz River drainages), south in the Sierra Madre Occidental and adjacent sky island mountain ranges in Sonora and Chihuahua to northern Sinaloa, Mexico, at elevations from 460-2,070m asl (Zweifel 1968c, Hale and May 1983, Hale 2001). Most localities are in the mountains of eastern Sonora. The Tarahumara Frog has been extirpated from the USA since 1983, and more recently, from several sites in northern Sonora (Hale and May 1983, Hale et al. 1995, Hale 2001).
Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Tarahumara Frogs are known from 63 localities (Rorabaugh and Hale 2005). The status of the species has been closely tracked in Arizona and at selected localities in Sonora. Extirpations from Arizona localities occurred from 1948-1983. The last wild Tarahumara Frog observed in the USA was found dead in Big Casa Blanca Canyon in May 1983. Two northern Mexican populations were recorded as having declined in the early 1980s (Hale and May 1983). Surveys from May 1998 to May 2000 in Sonora yielded Tarahumara Frogs at 6 of 11 historical localities and three new localities (Hale et al. 1998, Hale 2001). The status of the species in Chihuahua and Sinaloa is unknown. Generally, where the species is currently extant, no long-term declines are apparent (Rorabaugh and Hale 2005). However, since chytridiomycosis is confirmed in this species, and populations have been lost, future declines can be expected.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species inhabits streams and plunge pools in canyons located within oak and pine-oak woodland, and the Pacific coast tropical area (foothill thorn scrub and tropical deciduous forest; Hale and May 1983, McCranie and Wilson 1987). Plunge pools in canyons with low mean flows (<0.2 cubic feet per second) and relatively steep gradients (>60m per km of stream) provide the best breeding sites (Hale and May 1983, Hale 2001). Permanent water is necessary for metamorphosis. At Pena Blanca Spring and Tinaja Canyon, Arizona, and Arroyo El Salto, north-eastern Sonora, Tarahumara Frogs inhabited artificial impoundments (Hale and May 1983, Hale 2001, Rorabaugh and Hale 2005).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Hale and Jarchow (1988) listed the following possible causal mechanisms in the extirpation of Tarahumara Frog populations: 1) winter cold; 2) flooding or severe drought; 3) competition; 4) predation; 5) disease; and 6) heavy metal poisoning. Airborne pollutants from copper smelters might have been responsible for toxic levels of cadmium in streams inhabited by Tarahumara Frogs (Hale and Jarchow 1988); however, frogs found during die-offs exhibited symptoms that are now associated with chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease known to affect amphibians globally. Histology of frogs collected during die-offs in Arizona and Sonora from 1974-1999 revealed the presence of chytrids (Hale 2001, Rorabaugh and Hale 2005, T.R. Jones and P.J. Fernandez pers. comm.). Cold weather can be a contributing factor in mortality (Hale and Jarchow 1988) and might be associated with chytridiomycosis-related mortality (Hale 2001). Other threats include introduced predatory fishes (e.g. green sunfish and bluegill) and bullfrogs (Hale and Jarchow 1988). The Tarahumara Frog is now apparently replaced by the bullfrog in the Pena Blanca area in Arizona (Clarkson and Rorabaugh 1989). Poor agricultural practices at Arroyo El Cobre in southern Sonora resulted in erosion from slopes and sedimentation of pools inhabited by the Tarahumara Frog. The Tarahumara Frog has apparently been replaced at this site by Rana pustulosa and R. magnaocularis (Hale 2001).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: A team of U.S. and Mexican partners are working to re-establish the Tarahumara Frog back into Big Casa Blanca and Sycamore canyons, Arizona (Rorabaugh and Humphrey 2002, Rorabaugh and Hale 2005). The range of the species includes the Mount Wrightson and Pajarita wilderness areas in Arizona, and La Reserva Para Protecíon de Flora y Fauna Sierra de Alamos-Río Cuchujaqui, Sonora.

Citation: James Rorabaugh, Georgina Santos-Barrera, Geoffrey Hammerson. 2004. Lithobates tarahumarae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T58731A11832982. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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