Pseudacris brachyphonaMountain Chorus Frog

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Geographic Range

Pseudacris brachyphona, the mountain chorus frog, is found in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern North America. They can be found from northwestern Pennsylvania to central Alabama. (Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Jensen, et al., 2008; Walker, 1932)

Habitat

Mountain chorus frogs live mostly in higher elevations throughout Appalachia and have been discovered at elevations as high as 1050 meters. During their mating season, their most common habitats are small grassy vernal ponds or temporary rainwater pools. After the mating season, they travel to higher elevations and drier land. Eggs and tadpoles live in breeding pools until they undergo metamorphosis. When tadpoles morph into adults they also choose upland habitats. (Barbour, 1957; Conant and Collins, 1998; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Jensen, et al., 2008)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • temporary pools
  • Range elevation
    1050 (high) m
    3444.88 (high) ft

Physical Description

Mountain chorus frogs are relatively small frogs. Although, the average mass could not be found, adult male total body length ranges from 26 to 30 mm and adult females from 28 to 34 mm. Coloring varies among individuals, but most are light brown with stripes or spots of varying shades of brown along their backs. They tend to have a stripe that starts along their snouts and runs across their eyes and back, blending into their dorsal patterning. Their legs are usually yellow and their throats can be between yellow and black (males) or white (females). Coloration also varies with age. (Barbour, 1957; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Walker, 1932)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range length
    26 to 34 mm
    1.02 to 1.34 in
  • Average length
    28 mm
    1.10 in

Development

Mountain chorus frogs goes through the process of metamorphosis during their life cycle. Shortly after mating, females lay their eggs in clutches near the water’s edge in the breeding pond. Hatching occurs 6 to 10 days after the eggs are laid. The fully aquatic, gilled tadpoles live in the pond. During this period of growth, which lasts 50 to 60 days, tadpoles grow in size and start to develop hind legs. The frog’s legs bud when the tadpole is approximately 19 mm long. As the legs grow, the tail of the tadpole decreases in size until it is completely gone. Once the frog’s legs have formed, the lungs gradually replace the gills as a means of respiration. Once the lungs are fully formed, the frogs move outside of the water only returning to water to mate. (Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Gaudin, 1974; Platz and Forester, 1988; Walker, 1932)

Reproduction

Mountain chorus frogs begin their breeding season from early spring (around February) into late spring (June). During this time, males and females can mate multiple times but females generally only produce one clutch of eggs. Males begin the mating season by locating small breeding ponds. Once they find a suitable habitat they begin calling; this is the main way the males attract females. Females arrive at these pools and are greeted by males who grasp onto their backs to begin the mating ritual. After mating, males try to attract other females for mating. After breeding, females and males return to their terrestrial, forested habitats. (Green, 1938; Platz and Forester, 1988)

Mountain chorus frogs breed once a year from late winter to early summer. Females lay their eggs in small clutches of 10 to 50 individual eggs. They lay multiple clutches, adding up to around 300 offspring that begin to hatch 5 to 7 days after they are laid. (Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Elliott, 2004; Green, 1938; Jensen, et al., 2008; Platz and Forester, 1988)

  • Breeding interval
    Mountain chorus frogs breed once a year
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from early to late spring.
  • Range number of offspring
    150 to 500
  • Average number of offspring
    300
  • Range time to hatching
    4 to 10 days
  • Average time to hatching
    5-7 days
  • Average time to independence
    0 minutes

There is little parental care given to the offspring of Pseudacris brachyphona. After mating, males and females return to dry forested habitats. (Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Green, 1938; Jensen, et al., 2008; Platz and Forester, 1988)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Many mountain chorus frogs die while in the egg or tadpole stage, only 15 percent reaching adulthood. If they reach sexual maturity, the mortality rate for these frogs is decreased to nearly half of that for juveniles. Average lifespan is approximately 5 years for those that reach adulthood, with some reaching 7 years. (Green, 1938; Green, 1938)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    7 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    5 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    5 years

Behavior

Most information on mountain chorus frogs show that they are relatively solitary animals, only interacting with other members of the species during mating season. Males interact in the vernal ponds only when it's necessary to defend the areas in which they breed. (Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Green, 1938; Mitchell and Reay, 1999; Platz and Forester, 1988)

Home Range

Mountain chorus frogs do not defend territories, although males may defend small areas in breeding ponds. They are also not thought to wander far from forested areas near potential breeding ponds. (Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Green, 1938)

Communication and Perception

Mountain chorus frogs generally only communicate with other individuals during the breeding season. Males use a call that is specific to their species in order to attract mates. The call has been described as distinct high-pitched chirps that are slightly shrill. The succession of their calls is rapid, occurring at a rate of 50 to 70 times a minute but lasts no more than 20 seconds. It is not known if P. brachyphona uses any other means of communication. (Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Elliott, 2004; Green, 1938; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Elliott, 2004; Green, 1938)

Food Habits

Mountain chorus frogs rely mostly on insects as a food source. They eat beetles, which make up about 45 percent of their diet. Other prey items include spiders (25 percent), bugs (13 percent), ants, leafhoppers, fliescentipedes, earthworms, and butterfly and moth larvae makes up the other 17 percent. (Cocroft, 1994; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Jensen, et al., 2008)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • terrestrial worms

Predation

As tadpoles, mountain chorus frogs are preyed on by a wide range of potential predators near breeding pools, including fish, predatory insects, and other frogs. As they mature, predators are limited to larger frogs and snakes. American bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) are known predators. Their only known anti-predation adaptation would be using the coloration of their skin as camouflage. (Jensen, et al., 2008; Walker, 1932)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Mountain chorus frogs help control the populations of some species of insects found throughout their range as they prey on them. They are also prey to other frogs. Although parasite loads for this species is unknown, nematodes and trematodes have been found inside other species in the genus Pseudacris. (Goldberg, et al., 1996; Jensen, et al., 2008; Walker, 1932; Whitaker Jr., 1971)

Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Mountain chorus frogs feed on insects and help control pests. (Cocroft, 1994; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Jensen, et al., 2008; Walker, 1932)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of mountain chorus frogs on humans.

Conservation Status

Mountain chorus frogs are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List and are not mentioned on any of the other conservation lists. They are not currently considered to be in danger of extinction.

Contributors

Elisabet Minter (author), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

choruses

to jointly display, usually with sounds, at the same time as two or more other individuals of the same or different species

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

heterothermic

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

metamorphosis

A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

polygynandrous

the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Barbour, R. 1957. Observations on the Mountain Chorus Frog, Pseudacris Brachyphona (Cope) in Kentucky. American Midland Naturalist, 57/1: 125-128.

Cocroft, R. 1994. A Cladistic Analysis Of Chorus Frog Phylogeny (Hylidae: Pseudacris). Herpetologica, 50/4: 420-437.

Conant, R., J. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Dorcas, M., W. Gibbons. 2008. Frogs and Toads of the Southeast. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press.

Elliott, L. 2004. The Calls of Frogs and Toads. Mechanicaburg, PA: Stackpole Books.

Gaudin, A. 1974. An Osteological Analysis of Holarctic Tree Frogs, Family Hylidae. Journal Of Herpetology, 8/2: 141-152.

Goldberg, S., C. Bursey, E. Gergus, B. Sullivan, Q. Truong. 1996. Helminths from Three Treefrogs Hyla arenicolor, Hyla wrightorum, and Pseudacris triseriata (Hylidae) from Arizona. The American Society of Parasitologists, 82/5: 833-835.

Green, N. 1938. The Breeding Habits of Pseudacris Brachyphona (Cope) with a Description of the Eggs and Tadpole. Copeia, 1938/2: 79-82.

Green, N., T. Pauley. 1987. Amphibians and Reptiles in West Virginia. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Hoffman, R. 1995. On the Occurrence of Two Species of Hylid Frogs in Virginia. Herpetologica, 11/1: 30-32.

Jensen, J., C. Camp, W. Gibbons. 2008. Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press.

Lemmon, E., A. Lemmon, D. Cannatella. 2007. Geological and Climatic Forces Briving Speciation in the Continentally Distributed Trilling Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris). Evolution, 61/9: 2086-2103.

Lemmon, E., A. Lemmon, J. Collins, J. Lee-Yaw, D. Cannatella. 2007. Phylogeny-based Delimitation of Species Boundaries and Contact Zones in the Trilling Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 44/3: 1068-1082.

Mitchell, J., K. Reay. 1999. Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Moriarty, E., D. Cannatella. 2004. Phylogenetic Relationships of the North American Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris: Hylidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 30/2: 409-420.

Platz, J., D. Forester. 1988. Geographic Variation in Mating Call Among the Four Subspecies of the Chorus Frog: Pseudacris Triseriata (Wied). Copeia, 1988/4: 1062-1066.

Turner, F. 1962. The Demography of Frogs and Toads. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 37/4: 303-314.

Walker, C. 1932. Pseudacris Brachyphona (Cope), A Valid Species. The Ohio Journal of Science, 32: 379-384.

Whitaker Jr., J. 1971. A Study of the Western Chorus Frog, Pseudacris triseriata, in Vigo County, Indiana. Journal of Herpetology, 5/3/4: 127-150.