Lithobates pipiens


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Lithobates pipiens
Species Authority: (Schreber, 1782)
Common Name(s):
English Northern Leopard Frog
Rana pipiens Schreber, 1782
Taxonomic Notes: The animals in Panama belonging to the Lithobates pipiens complex have not yet been named as a separate species. They are therefore treated here under the name Lithobates pipiens, though they are clearly not conspecific with true L. pipiens from North America.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Geoffrey Hammerson, Frank Solís, Roberto Ibáñez, César Jaramillo, Querube Fuenmayor
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is known from Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay, Canada, south to Kentucky and New Mexico, USA (Stebbins 1985, Conant and Collins 1991). It has a spotty distribution in the west, where it has been introduced in many localities. It is also known from Panama where it is endemic to the central cordillera and western Pacific lowlands, although this is most likely an undescribed species (see taxonomic note). It occurs at approximately 100-600m asl in the eastern portion of the Panamanian distribution.
Canada; Panama; United States
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In North America there are thousands of populations. The total adult population size is probably in the hundreds of thousands or millions. It is still widespread and common in many areas, especially in lowland areas, but many other populations appear to have declined, especially in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, where the species no longer is extant in most localities where historically it occurred (Corn and Fogleman 1984; Corn et al. 1989; Koch and Peterson 1995; J. Reichel, unpublished map, 1996). It has nearly disappeared from the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, though natural wetland habitats remain apparently undisturbed with acceptable water quality (Koch and Peterson 1995). It is apparently extirpated from most of its historical range in Washington (Leonard et al. 1999). It has not been observed in recent years in the few historical localities in Oregon (Csuti et al. 1997). Local extirpations have been reported for Alberta (Russell and Bauer 1993) and British Columbia (Orchard 1992). In Panama it can be common in some areas but declining in parts of its range.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Springs, slow streams, marshes, bogs, ponds, canals, flood plains, reservoirs, and lakes; usually permanent water with rooted aquatic vegetation. In summer, commonly inhabits wet meadows and fields. Takes cover underwater, in damp niches, or in caves when inactive. Over winters usually underwater. Eggs are laid and larvae develop in shallow, still, permanent water (typically), generally in areas well exposed to sunlight. Generally eggs are attached to vegetation just below the surface of the water. In northern Minnesota, successful reproduction in acidic bog water either does not occur or is a rare event (Karns 1992).
In Panama, it is a largely terrestrial species of humid lowland and montane forest.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats and degree of threat vary greatly across its range. Threats include habitat loss, commercial over-exploitation, and in some areas, probably competition/predation by bullfrogs or other introduced species. The decline in Rocky Mountains (Corn et al. 1989) is not due to acidification of breeding habitats (Corn and Vertucci 1992). Laboratory results suggest that there might be an interaction between crowding, temperature, and mortality from bacterial infection (e.g., red-leg disease); there was higher mortality when frogs were subjected to crowding and high temperatures (Brodkin et al. 1992). Agricultural chemicals such as atrazine have caused feminisation of frogs in agricultural areas (Hayes et al. 2002). In Panama it is threatened by general habitat loss due to the destruction of natural forests.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Populations exist in dozens or hundreds of protected areas, though management of those areas might not take leopard frogs into consideration. In Panama it has been recorded from Parque Nacional Altos de Campana. Taxonomic research is needed to resolve this species complex.

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.

Brodkin, M.A., Simon, M.P., DeSantis, A.M. and Boyer, K.J. 1992. Response of Rana pipiens to graded doses of the bacterium Pseudomnas aeruginosa. Journal of Herpetology: 490-495.

Brodman, R., Cortwright, S. and Resetar, A. 2002. Historical changes of reptiles and amphibians of northwest Indiana fish and wildlife properties. American Midland Naturalist: 135-144.

Carr, L.W. and Fahrig, L. 2001. Effect of road traffic on two amphibian species of differing vagility. Conservation Biology: 1071-1078.

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.

Corn, P.S. and Fogleman, J.C. 1984. Extinction of montane populations of the northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) in Colorado. Journal of Herpetology: 147-152.

Corn, P.S., Stolzenburg, W. and Bury, R.B. 1989. Acid precipitation studies in Colorado and Wyoming: interim report of surveys of montane amphibians and water chemistry. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report: 56 pp.

Csuti, B., Kimmerling, A.J., O'Neil, T.A., Shaughnessy, M.M., Gaines, E.P. and Huso, M.M.P. 1997. Atlas of Oregon wildlife: distribution, habitat, and natural history. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis.

Cunjak, R.A. 1986. Winter habitat of northern leopard frogs, Rana pipiens, in a southern Ontario stream. Canadian Journal of Zoology: 255-257.

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.

Dole, J.W. 1965. Summer movement of adult leopard frogs, Rana pipiens (Schreger), in northern Michigan. Ecology: 236-255.

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

Gilbert, M., Leclair Jr., R. and Fortin, R. 1994. Reproduction of the northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) in floodplain habitat in the Richelieu River, P. Quebec, Canada. Journal of Herpetology: 465-470.

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.

Hayes, T., Haston, K., Tsui, M., Hoang, A., Haeffele, C. and Vonk, A. 2002. Feminization of male frogs in the wild. Nature: 895-896.

Ibáñez, R., Solís, F., Jaramillo, C. and Rand, S. 2000. An overwiew of the herpetology of Panama. In: J.D. Johnson, R.G. Webb and O.A. Flores-Villela (eds), Mesoamerican Herpetology: Systematics, Zoogeography and Conservation, pp. 159-170. The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 23 November 2004.

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

Koch, E.D. and Peterson, C.R. 1995. Amphibians and Reptiles of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Leonard, W.P., McAllister, K.R. and Friesz, R.C. 1999. Survey and assessment of northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) populations in Washington state. Northwestern Naturalist: 51-60.

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

Rittschoff, D. 1975. Some aspects of the natural history andecology of the leopard frog, Rana pipiens. Ph.D. Thesis, pp. 212 pp. Univ. Mich.

Russell, A.P. and Bauer, A.M. 1993. The amphibians and reptiles of Alberta. University of Calgary Press and University of Alberta Press, algary and Edmonton, Alberta.

Schlaepfer, M.A., Hoover, C. and Dodd, C.K.,Jr. 2005. Challenges in Evaluating the Impact of the Trade in Amphibians and Reptiles on Wild Populations. BioScience: 256-264.

Species at Risk Branch. 2002. Species at Risk Range Maps. Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada. (, Ottawa.

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.

Young, B., Sedaghatkish, G., Roca, E. and Fuenmayor, Q. 1999. El Estatus de la Conservación de la Herpetofauna de Panamá: Resumen del Primer Taller Internacional sobre la Herpetofauna de Panamá. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia.

Zenisek, C.J. 1963. A study of the natural history and ecology of the leopard frog, Rana pipiens (Schreber). Ph.D. Thesis, pp. 153 pp. Ohio State Univ., Columbus.

Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson, Frank Solís, Roberto Ibáñez, César Jaramillo, Querube Fuenmayor 2004. Lithobates pipiens. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 05 September 2015.
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