Lithobates sylvaticus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Lithobates sylvaticus
Species Authority: (LeConte, 1825)
Common Name(s):
English Wood Frog
Lithobates sylvatica LeConte, 1825
Rana sylvatica LeConte, 1825

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-08-14
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Luedtke, J.
Contributor(s): Hammerson, G.A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Angulo, A.
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution and presumed large population.
2004 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in northern North America 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 subpopulations in Arkansas-Missouri (Stebbins 1985, Conant and Collins 1991). It ranges farther north than any other North American amphibian.
Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland I, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward I., Qu├ębec, 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)
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is abundant and widespread.
Population Trend: Stable

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 (Berven and Grudzien 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 reports of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats to local subpopulations 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 1999). Negative impacts of intensive timber harvesting extend at least 25-35 m into uncut forest (deMaynadier and Hunter 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: No species-specific conservation actions are needed. It occurs in many protected areas.

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. 2014. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. Available at: (Accessed: 13 November 2014).

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.

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 2014. Lithobates sylvaticus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 01 April 2015.
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