This frog has a stocky body, long legs and prominent tarsal pads. Adults reach a body length of 35 mm. Dorsal coloration varies from light brown or grey to olive-grey. The venter is paler. A distinct white stripe runs from the upper lip to the tympanum. Dark lateral and paramedian stripes are well defined and extend onto the tibiae and femora when the legs are flexed. There is a suffusion of bright yellow on the undersides of the hind legs.
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.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )
endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Discontinuously distributed from western Pennsylvania southwest to northeastern Mississippi, central Alabama, and Georgia (Conant and Collins 1991). Recently reconfirmed as extant in North Carolina (Floyd and Kilpatrick 2002). Ranges to elevations of at least 3,500 ft (1,100 m) (Conant and Collins 1991).
Distribution and Habitat
Found in central western Pennsylvania southward to Alabama, southwest Georgia, and northeastern Mississippi, primarily in the Appalachian Plateau physiographic province. Populations occuring in Ohio and Pennsylvannia lie south of the line of maximum glaciation. Isolated populations occur in the Iron Mountains of Virginia, central northern Georgia and adjacent parts of North Carolina and Tennessee, the panhandle of west Virginia, and western Florida.
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.
Range length: 26 to 34 mm.
Average length: 28 mm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently
Length: 4 cm
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.
Range elevation: 1050 (high) m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; mountains
Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; temporary pools
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Wooded hilly areas. Terrestrial. Probably hides under objects or underground when inactive. Eggs and larvae develop in pools in or adjacent to woods: spring pools, flooded ditches, pools along streams, woodland ponds. Eggs are attached to leaves, sticks, or other vegetation in water.
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Migrates between breeding pools and nonbreeding terrestrial habitats.
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.
Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Vermivore)
Comments: Metamorphosed frogs eat various small invertebrates obtained on the ground. Larvae eat organic debris, algae, and plant tissue.
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.
- nematodes (Nematoda)
- trematode parasites (Trematoda)
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.
- American bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
Life History and Behavior
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.
Communication Channels: acoustic
Other Communication Modes: choruses
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Comments: Primarily nocturnal but also diurnal, especially when breeding. Inactive during coldest months in north.
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.
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
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.
Status: wild: 7 (high) years.
Status: wild: 5 years.
Status: wild: 5 years.
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.
Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)
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.
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.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous
There is little parental care given to the offspring of Pseudacris brachyphona. After mating, males and females return to dry forested habitats.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female)
Lays clutch of about 1000 eggs (distributed among small clusters), usually late winter or early spring but also during rainy weather in summer. Eggs hatch in 3-4 days. Larvae metamorphose in 4-9 weeks (7-9 weeks in West Virginia, Green and Pauley 1987).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pseudacris brachyphona
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.
Global Short Term Trend: Unknown
Comments: Status is poorly known. Hulse et al. (2001) mapped 28 locations at the northern extent of the range in Pennsylvania but stated that all of these are historical records; "no specimens have been reported in the past 20 years or so."
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Breeding season is from December to April for populations in Alabama and from March to July in the Central Appalachians. Eggs are attached to submerged detritus in small masses of 10-50.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are no known adverse effects of mountain chorus frogs on humans.
Mountain chorus frogs feed on insects and help control pests.
Positive Impacts: controls pest population
Mountain chorus frog
The mountain chorus frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) is a species of frog in the Hylidae family, endemic to the United States. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, rivers, intermittent rivers, swamps, freshwater marshes, intermittent freshwater marshes, freshwater springs, ponds, open excavations, and canals and ditches. It is threatened by habitat loss.
The mountain chorus frog is a small frog, but an intermediate size for the genus Pseudacris. It is colored different shades of grey or brown, including sorghum brown, deep brownish-drab, or mars brown. It is stocky in the body and broader in the head, which is very close to the structure and size of H. femoralis, the pine woods tree frog. The adult frog grows from 1.0 to 1.4 in long. The males are usually between 24 and 32 mm and the females between 27 and 34 mm. The mountain chorus frog has a unique triangle between the eyes and a white line on the upper lip; the male uniquely has a dark throat.
The mountain chorus frog can usually be found on the hillsides of southwestern Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, southeastern Ohio, eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, northern Alabama, northern Mississippi, and Tennessee. They live on springy hillsides, grassy pools, and ditches, typically distant from water. The wooded hillsides where the frogs live are up to 3,500 feet in elevation.
The mountain chorus frog has a unique call. It is a faster, higher note, and holds a distinct quality and form. The repetitions are quicker and the pitch higher. When a whole chorus of them are heard, one can tell them apart from other groups. The Mountain chorus frog's call has a rate of 50 to 70 times a minute and can be continued for several minutes, though they usually stop in 15 to 20 seconds. This distinct call is rapid and can be heard on a clear night up to a quarter mile away. Their voice has a bit of a nasal quality to it and sounds like a wagon wheel turning that needs oil. It is a harsh, raspy "wreeck" or "reek" sound.
Mountain chorus frogs are part of the family Hylidae, also known as the tree frogs. Tree frogs are one of the largest families in the Salientia order. Because they are so colorful and have many acrobatic talents, they have been called the "clowns and high-wire artists" of the amphibian world. The almost 500 species of tree frogs are found all over the world, in tropical regions and to the Canadian woods, and Australia. They are found in places where toads are usually found.
The mountain chorus frog breeds in February through April. The female lays eggs in small, shallow bodies of water in the woods or waterways near the woods. If the frog lives near the base of a hill, it will lay eggs in ditches, pools along streams, or springs. The eggs are laid in groups of 10 to 50. They attach to vegetation and total about 500 eggs. The tadpole stage lasts for about 50 to 56 days. Once the tadpoles reach 8 mm, they metamorphose into frogs.
- Wright, 230/231
Knapp, Walter W. . "Mountain Chorus Frog." The Frogs & Toads of Georgia. 09 Sept 2006. 27 Oct 2007 <http://wwknapp.home.mindspring.com/docs/mountain.chorus.frog.html>.
Mattison, Chris. Frogs and Toads of the World. New York: Facts on File, Inc, 1987.
"Mountain Chorus Frog." Ohio Department of Natural Resources. 30 Jan 2007. 27 Oct 2007 <http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Home/species_a_to_z/speciesguide_default/mountainchorusfrog/tabid/6689/Default.aspx>.
Simon, Hilda. Frogs and Toads of the World. New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1975.
"Virginia Wildlife Information" Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. 19 Nov. 2007. <http://www.dgif.state.va.us/wildlife/species/display.asp?id=020011>.
Wright, Albert Hazen, and Anna Allen Hazen. Handbook of Frogs and Toads. 3rd. Ithaca, New York: Comstock Publishing Company, Inc., 1949.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: A molecular phylogeny of Pseudacris based on mtDNA data (Moriarty and Cannatella 2004) revealed four strongly supported clades within Pseudacris: (1) A West Coast Clade containing regilla and cadaverina, (2) a Fat Frog Clade including ornata, streckeri, and illinoensis, (3) a Crucifer Clade consisting of crucifer and ocularis, and (4) a Trilling Frog Clade containing all other Pseudacris. Within the Trilling Frog Clade, brimleyi and brachyphona form the sister group to the Nigrita Clade: nigrita, feriarum, triseriata, kalmi, clarkii, and maculata. The Nigrita Clade shows geographic division into three clades: (1) populations of maculata and triseriata west of the Mississippi River and Canadian populations, (2) southeastern United States populations of feriarum and nigrita, and (3) northeastern United States populations of feriarum, kalmi, and triseriata. Current taxonomy does not reflect the phylogenetic relationships among populations of the Nigrita Clade (Moriarty and Canatella 2004). For example, the molecular data appear to indicate that triseriata, maculata, and clarkii in the western United States are conspecific, but the authors indicated that further sampling and analysis of the Trilling Frog Clade are needed before their relationships can be determined and an appropriate taxonomy established. Moriarty and Cannatella (2004) found that subspecific epithets for crucifer (crucifer and bartramiana) and nigrita (nigrita and verrucosa) are uninformative, and they therefore discouraged recognition of these subspecies. They concluded that further study is needed to determine if illinoensis warrants status as a distinct species. Molecular data were consistent with retention of regilla, cadaverina, ocularis, and crucifer in the genus Pseudacris.
See Cocroft (1994) for a cladistic analysis of chorus frog phylogeny based on a combination of published morphological, biochemical, and behavioral data sets.