Upland chorus frogs live in moist terrestrial areas, but they typically do not stray far from the temporary breeding sites. These areas include wet woodlands, land surrounding ponds, and moist lowland areas in the coastal plain and piedmont. They are less common in mountainous areas. Any area of land that has abundant vegetation and water access, like lakes, ponds, or streams, can be habitable by upland chorus frogs. Swamps associated with riverine systems, marshes, and bogs also are suitable habitats. Anthropogenic interactions add suitable pseudo-habitats, like ditches and draining systems, as well as reclaimed strip mines. These interactions create temporary water sites optimal for breeding. Temporary breeding sites can also be caused by heavy rain fall, and depressions left in soil from larger animals.
Upland chorus frogs breed in these temporary pools, and they do not mate in permanent water sources. The eggs are laid in shallow breeding pools in grass or woodland areas. The tadpoles hatch on the vegetation, and remain underwater until metamorphosing into young adult frogs.
Adult upland chorus frogs travel short distances from these pools to more permanent terrestrial habitats. They return to the waterbodies when the breeding season starts again.
Elevations across their range are 0 to 700 m. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Ethier, et al., 2021; IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2021; Lemmon, 2009; Opsina, et al., 2020; Smith, et al., 2005; Wilson, 1995; Wright and Wright, 1949)
Adult upland chorus frogs are brown, tan, or gray. They are identifiable by the three stripes (or occasionally broken, spotty stripes) that typically run down the dorsum. There may also be a triangular dark blotch between the eyes, although some South Carolina populations lack it. The ventral side is lighter than the dorsum and ranges from light tan to white. Males and females differ by appearance: females tend to be larger in size (snout-vent length of 25-33 mm) than males (23-31 mm). Further, in the breeding season, males' throats are brownish-yellow.
The eggs of upland chorus frogs are 1.2-2.0 mm in diameter and exist within a gelatinous case reaching 5-7.8 mm in diameter. The eggs are white or yellow. Average egg mass length was 23.3 mm and average width was 14.6 mm.
The tadpoles are very dark, but they can be black, dark olive or brown. Tadpoles also have gold flecks on the dorsal side and white or brown colors on the belly. Sias (2006) found that the average newly-hatched tadpole SVL was 7.5 mm (range was 6.3 to 9.2 mm). The snouts of tadpoles are round and at the end stages the tadpoles’ total length is 34-36 mm. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Huheey and Stupka, 1967; Lemmon, 2009; Sias, 2006; Wright and Wright, 1949)
Eggs are laid by female upland chorus frogs in clutches of typically 10-40, although Dodd (2013) reported ranges of 4 to 600. Across the breeding season, ranges of of 500 to 1,500 eggs are reported. It is common for them to release more eggs after their first breeding season, November to January. These eggs are attached to vegetation in clusters within 25 cm of the water's surface and hatch within 14 days. If eggs are laid during colder temperatures, larvae will take longer to hatch.
Sias (2006) found that the average newly-hatched tadpole SVL was 7.5 mm (range was 6.3 to 9.2 mm) Average egg mass length was 23.3 mm and average width was 14.6 mm.
As tadpoles, temperatures affect survival and growth rates. Colder temperatures lead to inactivity. Temperatures too hot lead to death. Tadpoles of the upland chorus frogs can acclimate well in a wide range of temperatures. When climate conditions are working in the favor of the larvae, tadpoles swim rapidly in the water in the weeks before metamorphosing. The larvae stop swimming when encountering plants or debris in water. Tadpoles metamorphose into adult frogs in 7 to 14 weeks post-hatching.
During metamorphosis larvae start to develop front legs, hind legs, and lungs to prepare for terrestrial living. The toes and subcular tubercles progress with the loss of the cloacal and larval mouthparts, and the forelimbs and mature mouth develop. The tail is reabsorbed and metamorphosis is finished once a snout-vent size range of 7.8 to 12 mm is achieved.
Sexual maturity occurs 1-2 years after metamorphosis. These frogs, like all frogs, grow indeterminately. (Chantell, 1968; Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Lannoo, 2005; Platz and Lathrop, 1993; Sias, 2006)
During the breeding season, females choose mates. Weather conditions (warmer temperatures and sufficient precipitation) post-hibernation affect when the eggs will be laid. Male chorus frogs, as their name suggests, form large choruses and begin calling several days before breeding commences. They begin calling when the air temperature is 10 °C or above, and water temperature exceeds 6 °C. Temperatures of 10 to 15 °C and up to 22 °C are typical for breeding to occur. They only breed in non-permanent water sources.
Male chorus frogs start mating calls from the edge of temporary pools or in the water by floating or supporting themselves on vegetation. Once females hear the advertisement call and choose males, females face and arch the dorsal end of their body towards males, and amplexus occurs. As the eggs are released through the oviducts, the males release sperm through their vent. When released, the eggs are immediately fertilized and settle on the vegetation. After amplexus, male chorus frogs immediately disperse.
Male compete with one another during the mating season to mate with females. Females will have multiple mates throughout lifetimes. Males are polygamous and could mate with multiple females in a single season. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Ethier, et al., 2021; Michelson, 2012; Moriarty and Cannatella, 2004; Opsina, et al., 2020; Steelman and Dorcas, 2010)
Upland chorus frogs’ breeding season ranges from December to late April and occurs at breeding pools. They mate via amplexus and employ external fertilization. Females lay eggs on the vegetation surrounding breeding sites. Temperatures around the range of 10 °C up to 22 °C are typical for breeding to occur. Fertilization occurs immediately after amplexus. During warmer temperatures eggs can hatch in 3-4 days and during colder temperatures can hatch between 7-14 days. Independence is immediate at hatching.
These chorus frogs are polygamous. Male chorus frogs begin breeding 8-10 months after metamorphosis (about 1 year of age), while females typically begin breeding at around 2 years. Females begin to develop ova during the fall, and by winter the eggs are fully developed and ready to be laid. During the first breeding period, female chorus frogs have fewer eggs in their clutches, ranging from 4 to 275 eggs total; in their second year and beyond, total across all clutches range from 282 to 1500 eggs. Some females can lay up to 534 eggs in a single clutch. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Ethier, et al., 2021; Michelson, 2012; Moriarty and Cannatella, 2004; Opsina, et al., 2020; Steelman and Dorcas, 2010)
Upland chorus frogs do not provide care for their offspring. After breeding has been completed, there is no further parental investment from either parent. (Dodd Jr., 2013)
The lifespan of upland chorus frogs in the wild is not well researched. Similar species in the genus like spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), live up to 4 years with an average of 2-3 years. Boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata) live on average 2-3 years and up to 7 years. The lifespan of these frogs is said to be underestimated and more research is needed to determine the true lifespan of the upland chorus frogs and others in this genus.
The two most common causes of mortality in tadpoles is oxygen starvation when the temporary pools dry up prior to metamorphosis and death due to cold.
Male and female upland chorus frogs are solitary prior and after breeding season and show no aggression towards other members, unless males are competing for females. Occasionally, males will mount one another, and one struggles to become free. In breeding pools, they typically maintain distances about 30 cm or more away from one another.
It is unclear whether these frogs are diurnal or nocturnal. Male choruses to begin the breeding season occur during daylight (noon and 18:30 h) and evening hours (midnight), but are least common around dawn. Tadpoles are likely diurnal, foraging in the non-permanent waters.
After breeding season, adult frogs retreat to wet terrestrial forest habitats where there is an abundance of leaf litter. Upland chorus frogs do not travel far (maximum of 200 m away) from breeding sites post-breeding season and no migration occurs. They are not commonly arboreal, and more often found in the leaf litter.
Male chorus frogs only call in a trill-like fashion regularly during breeding season, and can do so diurnally or nocturnally. Male and females upland chorus frogs can make single-chip warning calls when provoked or attacked by predators.
Not all populations hibernate, and more southern populations within their range may remain active year-round. For those that do hibernate, chorus frogs do not dig. They instead hibernate below objects like downed logs or in existing small mammal tunnels located in their habitats. They are not entirely freeze-tolerant, but high levels of glucose in their blood can reduce their chances of freezing.
Male chorus frogs choose to call from areas with thick foliage to remain hidden or from open areas once breeding season begins. Female chorus frogs choose their mate depending on the call the male chorus frogs make. Male chorus frogs can show aggression when breeding territory is threatened by other males. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Platz and Lathrop, 1993; Sias, 2006)
Post-breeding movements of upland chorus frogs are limited to 200 m away from breeding sites. Home ranges have not been reported for these frogs, but the home range of of western chorus frogs (Psuedacris triseriata) was recorded at 641 and 6,024 m^2 (Sias 2006).
Males only defend small areas around breeding pools, and generally stay 30 cm away from one another. However, aggressive territorial defense has not been documented. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Sias, 2006)
Upland chorus frogs communicate with a series of calls described as a “the sound of a thumb running over the teeth of a comb” (Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008). Dodd (2013) described the call as lasting 0.8 seconds, with an average of 17 trills in that time. The call was followed by a 1.2-second pause. They call at a frequency of 2800 Hz. Typically, male upland chorus frogs make these calls during the winter and spring months; temperature directly impacts the amount of calls. The time of day also affects the frequency of the calls, 2100 - 0000h being one of the times the calls are heard the most, and 1600-2100h being another common time frame.
The upland chorus frog makes most of its calls during the mating season: winter to early spring. Males form large choruses and begin several days before mating begins. Female upland chorus frogs do not make chorus calls. Male upland chorus frogs display their vocal sacs when making the calls to attract females as a potential mate. If chosen, the male will immediately assume the mating amplexus position, climbing and grasping onto the back of the female.
Between male upland chorus frogs, when threatened or attacked by another male, a stronger more shrill call is made. The call warns the other male to back down from the attack. When the call does not work, males will attempt to escape the grasp of the other male. Male upland chorus frogs do not retreat when approached by other males. Typically, one male will turn away allowing no need for defense or fighting.
These chorus frogs can see in color, as they show a response to blue light wavelengths. The presence of yellow-brown colors on the males' throat in the breading season also suggests that color plays a role in breeding.
They are known to use celestial orientation to find their way to breeding pools, and they can respond to visual cues from conspecifics. When males are within 30 cm of one another, they do not retreat, but Dodd (2013) described the males as watch each other's moves. Although past laboratory experiments have noted that these chorus frogs can differentiate odors across different habitats, it is not believed that they use this to navigate back to their breeding pools. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; Ethier, et al., 2021; Huheey and Stupka, 1967; IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2021; Lemmon, 2009; Opsina, et al., 2020)
Upland chorus frogs are insectivores. They consume the larvae and adults of ants (family Formicidae), beetles (order Coleoptera), flies (order Diptera), caterpillars (order Lepidoptera), and other insects. They also consume springtails (subclass Collembola), mites (class Arachnida), snails and slugs (order Gastropoda). Dodd (2013) reported that half of the diet of recently-metamorphosed frogs is comprised of mites and springtails.
Upland chorus frogs do not actively hunt prey, electing instead to sit and wait for the prey to come within capturing range (1m). They generally feed in the leaf litter of the forest floor. Males do not hunt for prey during mating season, while female upland chorus frogs consume prey for the entire year.
Upland chorus frog tadpoles are most susceptible to predators, but anti-predator defense includes the ceasing of movement when contacted by a predator. Predators of tadpoles include predaceous diving beetles, dragonfly larvae, marbled salamander (Ambystoma opatum) larvae, eastern newts (Notopthalmus viridescens), eastern garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis), and some species of spiders including six-spotted fishing spiders (Dolomedes triton). Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) consume larvae in laboratory conditions, and would likely do so in the wild; however, these fish are only present in permanent waterbodies.
Adult upland chorus frogs use natural camouflage and foliage to avoid predation. This includes the brown, black, or tan spots and patterns on the dorsum of the frogs. Predators of adults include diving beetles, water spiders (Argyroneta aquatica), owls, water snakes (Nerodia), and turtles. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008)
Upland chorus frogs prey on insects and small arthropods and are preyed on by larger species of amphibians, reptiles and spiders. They are host species to cnidarian parasites (Myxozoa melleni) and nematodes (Oswaldocruzia leidyi). A protozoan ciliate in the genus Vorticella can also parasitize tadpoles. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Dorcas and Gibbons, 2008; McAllister, et al., 2013; Sias, 2006)
Upland chorus frogs have no negative economic impacts on humans. (IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2021)
Upland chorus frogs are listed as a species of "Least Concern" on IUCN Red List and have no special status on US Federal List, CITES, and State of Michigan List. Nature Serve Explorer shows upland chorus frogs with a status of "Vulnerable" in West Virginia and "Critically Imperiled" in Pennsylvania.
Ranavirus causes conservation concern to researchers due to potential increase in hatchling death rates. They can be threatened by housing development, urbanization and industrialization of natural areas, development of roads and railroads, and logging areas. Tadpoles are killed by extreme cold or in temporary ponds drying up too soon; therefore, climate change may be a factor in the future.
Research is still being done to determine the risk of the ranavirus to amphibian species. A basic understanding of these frogs’ distribution, population size and trends, ecology, and threats is needed for conservation actions to take place. Given that taxonomic status is still uncertain for upland chorus frogs, clear differentiations among similar species is warranted. (Dodd Jr., 2013; Haislip, et al., 2011; IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2021; Lannoo, 2005; NatureServe Explorer, 2022)
Jahsmine Fowler (author), Radford University, Sierra Felty (editor), Radford University, Bianca Plowman (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, Victoria Raulerson (editor), Radford University, Christopher Wozniak (editor), Radford University, Genevieve Barnett (editor), Colorado State University.
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.
uses sound to communicate
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.
a wetland area rich in accumulated plant material and with acidic soils surrounding a body of open water. Bogs have a flora dominated by sedges, heaths, and sphagnum.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
to jointly display, usually with sounds, at the same time as two or more other individuals of the same or different species
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.
particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
fertilization takes place outside the female's body
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
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.
the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.
Animals with indeterminate growth continue to grow throughout their lives.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
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).
marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.
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.
eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.
uses touch to communicate
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).
uses sight to communicate
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