Lithobates chiricahuensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Ranidae

Scientific Name: Lithobates chiricahuensis (Platz and Mecham, 1979)
Common Name(s):
English Chiricahua Leopard Frog
Spanish Rana-de Chiricahua
Rana chiricahuensis Platz and Mecham, 1979
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2015. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. New York, USA. Available at:
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
Needs updating
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)
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 occurrence:
Mexico; United States
Additional data:
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).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

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.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.6. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.9. Wetlands (inland) - Freshwater Springs and Oases
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.2. Artificial/Aquatic - Ponds (below 8ha)
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.5. Artificial/Aquatic - Excavations (open)
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.3. Habitat & natural process restoration
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.3. Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Energy production & mining -> 3.2. Mining & quarrying
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.8. Abstraction of ground water (unknown use)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Blackburn, L., Nanjappa, P. and Lannoo, M.J. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA.

Bradley, G.A., Rosen, P.C., Sredl, M.J., Jones, T.R. and Longcore, J.E. 2002. Chytridiomycosis in native Arizona frogs. Journal of Wildlife Diseases: 206-212.

Clarkson, W.R. and Rorabaugh, J.C. 1989. Status of leopard frogs (Rana pipiens complex: Ranidae) in Arizona and southeastern California. Southwestern Naturalist: 531-538.

Degenhardt, W.G., Painter, C.W. and Price, A.H. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Fernandez, P.J. 1996. A facility for captive propagation of Chiricahua leopard frogs (Rana chiricahuensis). Herpetoculture, pp. 7-12. International Herpetological Symposium.

Frost, J.S. and Bagnara, J.T. 1977. Sympatry between Rana blairi and the southern form of leopard frog in southeastern Arizona (Anura: Ranidae). Southwestern Naturalist: 443-453.

Frost, J.S. and Platz, J.E. 1983. Comparative assessment of modes of reproductive isolation among four species of leopard frogs (Rana pipiens Complex). Evolution: 66-78.

Goldberg, C.S., Field, K.J. and Sredl, M.J. 2003. Ramsey Canyon leopard frog identity crisis: mitochondrial DNA analyses support designation as Chiricahua leopard frog. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program Technical Report 218, Phoenix, Arizona.

Green, D.M. and Delisle, D.M. 1985. Allotriploidy in natural hybrid frogs, Rana chiricahuensis x R. pipiens, from Arizona: chromosomes and electrophoretic evidence. Journal of Herpetology: 385-390.

Hillis, D.M. 1988. Systematics of the Rana pipiens complex: puzzle and paradigm. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics: 39-63.

Hillis, D.M., Frost, J.S. and Wright, D.A. 1983. Phylogeny and biogeography of the Rana pipiens complex: a biochemical evaluation. Systematic Zoology: 132-143.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2004).

Jennings, R.D. 1988. Ecological studies of the Chiricahua leopard frog, Rana chiricahuensis, in New Mexico. Report to Share with Wildlife, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Jennings, R.D. 1995. Investigations of recently viable leopard frog populations in New Mexico: Rana chiricahuensis and Rana yavapaiensis. Report submitted to New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Endangered Species Program, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Jennings, R.D. and Scott, Jr. 1993. Ecologically correlated morphological variation in tadpoles of the leopard frog, Rana chiricahuensis. Journal of Herpetology: 285-293.

Jennings, R.D. Activity and reproductive phenologies and their ecological correlates among populations of the Chiricahua leopard frog, Rana chiricahuensis. Unpublished report for New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Mecham, J.S. 1968. Evidence of reproductive isolation between two populations of the frog, Rana pipiens, in Arizona. Southwestern Naturalist: 35-44.

Platz, J.E. and Mecham, J.S. 1979. Rana chiricahuensis, a new species of leopard frog (Rana pipiens Complex) from Arizona. Copeia: 383-390.

Platz, J.E. and Mecham, J.S. 1984. Rana chiricahuensis. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles: 1-2.

Rosen, P.C., Schwalbe, C.R., Parizek, D.A.J., Holm, P.A. and Lowe, C.H. 1995. Introduced aquatic vertebrates in the Chiricahua region: effects on declining ranid frogs. In: DeBano, L.F., Gottfried, G.J., Hamre, R.H. and Edmi, C.B. (eds), Biodiversity and management of the Madrean Archipelago: the sky islands of southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experimental Station, Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Sredl, M.J. and Jennings, R.D. 2005. Rana chiricahuensis (Platz and Mecham, 1979) Chiricahua Leopard Frogs. In: Lannoo, M.J. (ed.), Status and Conservation of U.S. Amphibians. Volume 2: Species Accounts, University of California Press, Berkeley, California.

Sredl, M.J. and Saylor, L.S. 1998. Conservation and Management Zones and the role of earthen cattle tanks in conserving Arizona leopard frogs on large landscapes. In: Feller, J.M. and Strouse, D.S. (eds), Environmental, Economic, and Legal Issues Related to Rangeland Water Developments, pp. 211-225. The Center for the Study of Law, Science and Technology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

Sredl, M.J., Howland, J.M., Wallace, J.E. and Saylor, L.S. 1997. Status and distribution of Arizona’s native ranid frogs. In: Sredl, M.J (ed.), Ranid Frog Conservation and Management, pp. 37-89. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, Arizona.

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Citation: Georgina Santos-Barrera, Geoffrey Hammerson, Michael Sredl. 2004. Lithobates chiricahuensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T58575A11805575. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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