Lithobates sylvaticus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Ranidae

Scientific Name: Lithobates sylvaticus (LeConte, 1825)
Common Name(s):
English Wood Frog
Lithobates sylvatica LeConte, 1825
Rana sylvatica LeConte, 1825
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2014. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0 (7 July 2014). Electronic Database. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA. Available at:

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-08-25
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Stuart, S.N.
Contributor(s): Hammerson, G.A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Angulo, A. & Hobin, L.
Listed as Least Concern in view of the large extent of occurrence, large number of sub-populations and localities, and large population size.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in North America (Canada and United States) from Alaska to Labrador (Chubbs and Phillips 1998), south to New Jersey, northern Georgia and northern Idaho; it has a spotty distribution south to northern Colorado in Rocky Mountains, there are also disjunctive sub-populations in Arkansas-Missouri (Conant and Collins 1991, Stebbins 2003). It ranges farther north than any other North American amphibian.
Countries occurrence:
Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland I, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward I., Québec, Saskatchewan, Yukon); United States (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming)
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It is abundant and widespread, with a stable population.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It occurs in various kinds of forest/woodland habitats; edges of ponds and streams; also willow thickets and grass/willow/aspen associations. When inactive, it hides in logs, humus, leaf-litter or under logs and rocks. Eggs are laid and larvae develop usually in 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 (Riha and Berven 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).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

There are no records of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats to local sub-populations include intensive timber harvesting practices that reduce canopy closure, understorey vegetation, uncompacted forest litter or coarse woody debris (moderately to well-decayed) in areas surrounding breeding sites (deMaynadier and Hunter Jr. 1999). Negative impacts of intensive timber harvesting extend at least 25-35 m into uncut forest (deMaynadier and Hunter Jr. 1998). It is not considered likely to be at risk from present acidification inputs in the Rocky Mountains (Corn and Vertucci 1992).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions
No species-specific conservation actions are needed. It occurs in many protected areas.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ 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

Bibliography [top]

Bagdonas, K.R. and Pettus, D. 1976. Genetic compatibility in wood frogs. Journal of Herpetology: 105-112.

Barbour, R.W. 1971. Amphibians and Reptiles of Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington.

Berven, K.A. 1988. Factors affecting variation in reproductive traits within a population of wood frogs (Rana sylvatica). Copeia: 605-615.

Berven, K.A. and Grudzien, T.A. 1990. Dispersal in the wood frog (Rana sylvatica): implications for genetic population structure. Evolution: 2047-2056.

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

Chubbs, T.E. and Phillips, F.R. 1998. Distribution of the wood frog, Rana sylvatica, in Labrador: an update. Canadian Field-Naturalist: 329-331.

Collins, J.T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles, 3rd edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles: Herpetological Circular: 1-41.

Conant, R. and Collins, J.T. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Conant, R. and Collins, J.T. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. Third edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA, USA.

Corn, P.S. and Vertucci, F.A. 1992. Descriptive risk assessment of the effects of acidic deposition on Rocky Mountain amphibians. Journal of Herpetology: 361-369.

DeGraaf, R.M. and Rudis, D.D. 1983. Amphibians and Reptiles of New England: Habitats and Natural History. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, USA.

deMaynadier, P.G. and Hunter, Jr., M.L. 1998. Effects of silvicultural edges on the distribution and abundance of amphibians in Maine. Conservation Biology: 340-352.

deMaynadier, P.G. and Hunter, Jr., M.L. 1999. Forest canopy closure and juvenile emigration by pool-breeding amphibians in Maine. Journal of Wildlife Management: 441-450.

Frost, D.R. 1985. Amphibian Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Allen Press and the Association of Systematic Collections, Lawrence, Kansas.

Green, N.B. and Pauley, T.K. 1987. Amphibians and Reptiles in West Virginia. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Guttman, D., Bramble, J.E. and Sexton, O.J. 1991. Observations on the breeding immigration of wood frogs Rana sylvatica reintroduced in east-central Missouri. American Midland Naturalist: 269-274.

Hammerson, G.A. 1982. Amphibians and Reptiles in Colorado. Colorado Division of Wildlife, Denver, Denver.

Hammerson, G.A. 1999. Amphibians and reptiles in Colorado. Second edition. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Heatwole, H. 1961. Habitat selection and activity of the wood frog, Rana sylvatica Le Conte. American Midland Naturalist: 301-313.

Hopey, M.E. and Petranka, J.W. 1994. Restriction of wood frogs to fish-free habitats: how important is adult choice? Copeia: 1023-1025.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Karns, D.R. 1992. Effects of acidic bog habitats on amphibian reproduction in a northern Minnesota peatland. Journal of Herpetology: 401-412.

Martof, B.S. 1970. Rana sylvatica. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles: 1-4.

Martof, B.S. and Humphries, R.L. 1959. Geographic variation in the wood frog, Rana sylvatica. American Midland Naturalist: 350-389.

Mazerolle, M.J. 2001. Amphibian activity, movement patterns, and body size in fragmented peat bogs. Journal of Herpetology: 13-20.

Minton Jr, S.A. 1972. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science Monographs 3, Indianapolis, IN, USA.

Petranka, J.W. and Kennedy, C.A. 1999. Pond tadpoles with generalized morphology: is it time to reconsider their functional roles in aquatic communties? Oecologia: 621-631.

Porter, K.R. 1969. Description of Rana maslini, a new species of wood frog. Herpetologica: 212-215.

Riha, V.F. and Berven, K.A. 1991. An analysis of latitudinal variation in the larval development of the wood frog (Rana sylvatica). Copeia: 209-221.

Sadinski, W.J. and Dunson, W.A. 1992. A multilevel study of effects of low pH on amphibians of temporary ponds. Journal of Herpetology: 413-422.

Smith, H.M. 1978. A Guide to Field Identification: Amphibians of North America. Golden Press, New York, NY, USA.

Squire, T. and Newman, R.A. 2002. Fine-scale population structure in the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) in a northern woodland. Herpetologica: 119-130.

Stebbins, R.C. 1985. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Vogt, R.C. 1981. Natural History of Amphibians and Reptiles of Wisconsin. Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI, USA.

Zeyl, C. 1993. Allozyme variation and divergence among populations of Rana sylvatica. Journal of Herpetology: 233-236.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2015. Lithobates sylvaticus. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T58728A78907321. . Downloaded on 22 June 2018.
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