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western chorus frog

Pseudacris triseriata

What do they look like?

Striped Chorus Frogs are characterized by a white or cream colored stripe along the upper lip, bordered by a dark brown stripe running through the eye from the nostril to the groin. There are usually 3 dark stripes running down the back, although these may be broken into rows of spots in some. Background color ranges from brown to gray or olive. The underside is white or cream colored, possibly with dark spots on the chin and throat. Their coloration makes them difficult to see in their usual habitat. Males have a yellow colored vocal sac that appears as a dark, loose flap of skin when not calling. The skin of Striped Chorus Frogs is typically moist and bumpy, and the toes end in slightly expanded toepads. Adult length is usually 1.9 to 3.9 cm, with males usually smaller than females. Striped Chorus Frog tadpoles have gray or brown bodies that are round in shape. Their tail fins are clear, often with dark flecks. Their intestinal coil can be seen through the bronze belly skin.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range length
    19.0 to 39.0 mm
    0.75 to 1.54 in

Where do they live?

Striped Chorus Frogs are found from midwestern through eastern North America, from southern Quebec, in Canada, west to South Dakota and as far south as Kansas and Oklahoma.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Striped Chorus Frogs can be found in a variety of habitats, including marshes, meadows, swales, and other open areas. Less frequently they can be found in fallowed agricultural fields, damp woods, and wooded swamps. They use areas without permanent water, instead breeding in small ponds that often dry up in summer. This reduces predation on their eggs by fish or turtles, which will not be found in these kinds of ponds. However, in dry years Striped Chorus Frogs risk the ponds drying too quickly, resulting in total failure of all of their eggs for that year.

How do they grow?

The rate of development of the eggs and larvae is dependent on water temperature, with specimens in colder water requiring more time for development. Maximum length before metamorphosis is about 3cm.

How do they reproduce?

In Michigan, the breeding season of Striped Chorus Frogs begins in mid-March and runs through late May, although most activity occurs in April. These periods can vary, with breeding taking place earlier in the southern end of the range and later in the north. Breeding sites include the edges of shallow ponds, flooded swales, ditches, wooded swamps, and flooded fields. Breeding choruses early in the season can be heard on clear, sunny days, but shift to evenings or cloudy, rainy days as the season progresses.

Females lay lay 500-1500 eggs in several loose, gelatinous clusters attached to submerged grasses or sticks. Each cluster will typically have 20 to 300 eggs. Hatching generally occurs in 3 to 14 days and tadpoles transform into tiny froglets 40 to 90 days after that. Striped Chorus Frogs can mature and breed in less than one year.

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Striped Chorus Frogs breed each year in the spring.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from March to May.
  • Range number of offspring
    500.0 to 1500.0
  • Range time to hatching
    14.0 (high) days
  • Range
    40.0 to 90.0 days

After laying their eggs in clusters on vegetation there is no further parental care in Striped Chorus Frogs.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement

How long do they live?

Most Striped Chorus Frogs will probably die as tadpoles or froglets. Once they reach adulthood, Striped Chorus Frogs may live for about 5 years.

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    5.0 years

How do they behave?

Striped Chorus Frogs tend to remain close to their breeding grounds throughout the year. They often hide from predators beneath logs, rocks, leaf litter, and in loose soil or animal burrows. They will typically hibernate in these places as well. Striped Chorus Frogs are most active at night or in moist weather. They are mainly solitary, except when they form large breeding aggregations in the spring.

How do they communicate with each other?

Picking the small end of a high quality fine tooth comb with a fingernail can reproduce the call of the western chorus frog. The call sounds like "Cree-ee-ee-ee-eek", rising in speed and pitch as it progresses. Striped Chorus Frog males use these calls to attract females to breeding sites during the breeding season. Striped Chorus Frogs also use their keen vision to capture prey.

What do they eat?

Striped chorus frogs eat a variety of small invertebrates, including ants, flies, beetles, moths, caterpillars, leafhoppers, and spiders. Newly formed froglets feed on smaller prey, including mites, midges, and springtails. Tadpoles are herbivorous, foraging mostly on algae in the water.

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats non-insect arthropods

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Striped chorus frogs are preyed on by large birds, small mammals, and snakes. Tadpoles and froglets can be preyed on by other frogs, crayfish, fish, turtles, and dragonfly larvae.

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Striped Chorus Frogs help to control insect populations where they live, they also act as an important food source for their predators.

How do they interact with us?

Striped Chorus Frogs (and most other frogs) act as critical indicator species of habitat quality. Because the larval and adult forms of this species occupy different levels of the food chain, deformities that occur can be the result of contamination of either their aquatic or terrestrial habitats. This makes this species valuable in determining the overall health of both ecosystems. The permeable skin of Striped Chorus frogs makes them particularly vulnerable to contaminants.

Are they endangered?

Striped Chorus Frogs can be common to locally abundant, although some areas have shown a decline in their numbers. One subspecies is listed as special concern in the state of Michigan. This species appears to be quite tolerant of human activities, considering its presence in agricultural and suburban areas. Caution must be exercised during agricultural practices, as runoff containing pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers often fills breeding ponds, exposing eggs and larvae to contamination.

Contributors

Kevin Gardiner (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University.

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

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.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

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.

freshwater

mainly lives in water that is not salty.

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.

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.

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

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

solitary

lives alone

swamp

a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.

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.

References

Conant, R., J. Collins. 1991. Peterson Field Guides: Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.

 
University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Gardiner, K. 2000. "Pseudacris triseriata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 25, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Pseudacris_triseriata/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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