Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Frogs and Toads

Order Anura (Frogs and Toads)

Five families of anurans are found in the Northeast (Bufonidae, Hylidae, Pelobatidae, Ranidae, and Microhylidae). The highest diversity of anurans in the Northeast occurs within the family Hylidae (17 species), followed by the Ranidae (8 species), and the Bufonidae (4 species). The only endemic frog in the Northeast is the New Jersey chorus frog (Pseudacris feriarum kalmi). (Note: the taxonomy of this group is under revision). Pelobatidae and Microhylidae are represented by only one species each, Scaphiopus holbrookii and Gastrophryne carolinensis, respectively. Frogs and toads in the Northeast exhibit a biphasic life cycle consisting of aquatic egg and larval stages followed by metamorphosis into a terrestrial juvenile. Once mature, adults remigrate back to water to reproduce. Most anurans breed in lentic waters, but some also use lotic waters. The time between metamorphosis and first breeding ranges from 1-4 years (Duellman and Trueb 1994). The longevity of anurans varies from 1 to 15 or more years (Flower, 1925). Most anurans reproduce in temporary or permanent pond or wetland systems, where males call to attract females. Fewer species use streams or rivers (e.g., Rana catesbeiana, R. clamitans melanota, R. palustris). Some anurans require fishless temporary ponds for successful reproduction (e.g., Scaphiopus holbrookii, Rana sylvatica), whereas others can use a wide range of temporary or permanent ponds (e.g., many species within the Bufonidae, Hylidae and Ranidae). After metamorphosis, anurans can range widely (up to 6 km) from aquatic sites using a variety of terrestrial habitats (Dodd 1996). Anurans use various terrestrial refugia including caves, underground burrows and other subterranean habitats, tree roots, rock crevices, and can be found under surface debris such as fallen logs and rocks. Tree frogs use arboreal retreats.


Hyla cinerea in arboreal habitat
Hyla cinerea in arboreal habitat

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