Distribution and Conservation Status of the Newly Described Species of Leopard Frog in the Coastal NE

Rana pipiens

The recent discovery of a cryptic species of leopard frog in the Northeast means that nine states (CT, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA) may have to redefine their faunal checklists and/or lists of Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The new leopard frog appears to be of conservation concern in at least portions of its range, and until the states are able to address some basic information gaps, conservation efforts in the Northeast will be challenged with uncertain taxonomic statuses, potentially flawed bases for species and/or site prioritizations, and misappropriations of limited resources for strategic inventory, research, and/or management action. Through a multi-agency collaborative effort, we will 1) Determine conclusively which leopard frog species occur presently and occurred historically in the nine states; 2) Refine the northeastern distribution of the new species relative to the two other leopard frogs; 3) Contrast multi-level habitat associations among the three species; and 4) Refine the separation of species via field characters (calls, morphology) to facilitate future inventory, monitoring, and status assessments of the new species without reliance on genetic testing. Extensive bioacoustic surveys in 2014 will define the ranges of each species and identify sites for an intensive survey effort of occupied sites in 2014-2015 to characterize habitat associations, obtain tissue for genetic testing, and examine suspected rangewide morphological differences. The proposed study will provide northeastern states with a better capacity to implement sound, well-informed conservation strategies for native amphibians and their habitats.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2017

Our original project schedule had genetic analysis final in December 2015, with data analysis and writing in winter and early spring 2016. Initial genetic analyses led to confusing results, however, and the analysis was not completed to everyone’s satisfaction until June 2016. Therefore, we requested and received a project extension until spring 2017. Based on this new schedule, we made good progress on data analysis in July-September given the busyness of the summer field season.

Expected end date: April, 30 2017

Progress Reports

Project Leader

Name: Dr. Matthew Schlesinger

Title: Chief Zoologist

Organization: NY Natural Heritage Program

Email: matthew.schlesinger@dec.ny.gov

Address: 625 Broadway 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233

Phone: (518) 402-8939

Other Principal Investigators

Name: John Bunnell

Organization: New Jersey Pinelands Commission

Email: john.bunnell@njpines.nj.state

Name: Joanna Burger

Organization: Rutgers University

Email: burger@biology.rutgers.edu

Name: Jenny Dickson

Organization: CT Dept of Environmental Protection

Email: Jenny.Dickson@ct.gov

Name: Jeremy Feinberg

Organization: SUNY College of Env Science

Email: jerfein@eden.rutgers.edu

Name: James Gibbs

Organization: SUNY College of Env Sci and For

Email: jpgibbs@esf.edu

Name: Erik Kiviat

Organization: Hudsonia

Email: kiviat@bard.edu

Name: John Kloepfer

Organization: VA Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries

Name: Jacob Kubel

Organization: MA Div Fish and Wildlife

Email: jacob.kubel@state.ma.us

Name: Nate Nazdrowicz

Organization: Univ of Del

Email: spinifer@aol.com

Name: Holly Niederriter

Organization: Delaware Dept of Nat Res and Env Cons

Email: Holly.Niederriter@state.de.us

Name: Christopher Raithel

Organization: RI Dept Env Man

Email: christopher.raithel@dem.ri.gov

Name: Alan Richmond

Organization: Univ of MA

Email: alanr@bio.umass.edu

Name: Bradley Shaffer

Organization: Dept Eco and Evol Bio, UCLA

Email: brad.shaffer@ucla.edu

Name: Scott Smith

Organization: MD Dept of Nat Res

Email: sasmith@dnr.state.md.us

Name: Tom Tyning

Organization: Berkshire Community College

Email: ttyning@berkshirecc.edu

Name: Chris Urban

Organization: PA Fish and Game Commission

Email: curban@pa.gov

Name: Brian Zarate

Organization: NJ Div Fish and Wildlife

Email: Brian.Zarate@dep.state.nj.us