Vegas Valley Leopard Frog - Rana fisheri

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Kingdom Animalia (Animals)

Reconstruction

A reconstruction of the 'extinct' Vegas Valley Leopard Frog. Created by Peter Maas for The Sixth Extinction website.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 licence.

Phylum Chordata (Chordates)
Class Amphibia (Amphibians)
Order Anura (Frogs and Toads)
Family Ranidae (Ranid Frogs, True Frogs, etc.)
Genus Rana
Species Rana fisheri
Authority Stejneger, 1893
   
TSEW Status Rediscovered (RE), Year assessed: 2011
IUCN Status Extinct (EX), Year assessed: 2004
   
English Name Vegas Valley Leopard Frog, Las Vegas Leopard Frog, Mogollon Rim Leopard Frog, (Northern) Chiricahua Leopard Frog
Chinese Name 拉斯維加斯豹紋蛙
Dutch Name Vegas Valley Luipaardkikker, Las Vegas Luipaardkikker
German Name Vegas Valley Leopardfrosch, Las Vegas Leopardfrosch
Japanese Name ベガスヒョウガエル
   
Synonyms Rana pipiens fisheri; Rana onca fisheri; Rana (Lithobates) fisheri; Rana (Pantherana) fisheri; Rana (Rana) fisheri; Lithobates fisheri; Rana chiricahuensis Platz & Mecham, 1979
Taxonomy

There have been some extensive changes in ranid taxonomy (Frost et al. 2006). The status of this taxon has always been controversial. It was described as a distinct species (Rana fisheri), but some workers regarded Rana fisheri as conspecific with Rana onca, and others who regarded Rana fisheri as most closely related to Rana chiricahuensis, with the name Rana onca applying to a non-Rana chiricahuensis group taxon. (Frost 2000) Lithobates was considered a subgenus of Rana by Dubois in 1992, but recent research consider it a valid genus on itself. The scientific name Rana fisheri has been changed into Lithobates fisheri. (Frost 2006; Frost et al. 2006; Frost and Darrel 2007)

However, not everyone recognises these recent taxonomic changes. For example, AmphibiaWeb retains the genus Rana for this species. Its website says: "A fundamental goal of AmphibiaWeb is to promote clear communication among biologists through efficient information storage and retrieval. The majority of the new names proposed by Frost et al. (2006) are disconnected from the vast amount of previous amphibian research that has taken place, and thus adopting this new taxonomy hinders effective dissemination of information. At some point, when the hypotheses of relationships in Frost et al. have been tested with additional data, better taxon sampling, and more realistic analytical methods, changes may be in order. At least for the time being however, we have elected to retain the traditional names for amphibian taxa pending publication of a phylogenetic taxonomy for additional branches of the living amphibian portion of the Tree of Life (e.g., Hillis et al., 2001; Hillis & Wilcox, 2005; Ron et al., 2006). Until the ICZN amends its rules to allow for naming supraspecific clades, a compromise must be reached between the two alternative systems of classification currently in use (Hillis, 2007)." (AmphibiaWeb, 2008)

Characteristics

The Vegas Valley Leopard Frog was a medium-sized frog, that was about 5 to 7,5 centimetre (2-3 inches) from nose to rear. This frog was olive green above and with honey yellow hind limbs. This species had pale stripes on the folds between its back and sides. Its legs were short and stocky. (Angus et al. 2000) This species differed externally from other leopard frogs in its very faint (or absent spotting) and in the absence of the usual white jaw-stripe (Day, 1981).

Food

The Vegas Valley Leopard Frog probably ate insects, spiders, and other invertebrates, as well as small vertebrates, including fish and their own young. (Angus et al. 2000)

Reproduction

TadpoleVegas Valley Leopard Frogs may have bred in springs and streams where the adults lived much of the year, as water temperatures permitted. Egg masses are not known, but metamorphic individuals were collected in the same habitats as those used by adults. Young frogs appeared from April through August. (Wright and Wright 1949; Angus et al. 2000)

Image: a Vegas Valley Leopard Frog tadpole. Created by Peter Maas for The Sixth Extinction website. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 licence.

Range & Habitat

Range MapThis frog was historically only known from a number of localities at the headwaters of Las Vegas Creek and numerous artesian springs in the Las Vegas Valley (Linsdale 1940), as well as Tule Springs, Clark County, southern Nevada, United States of America (Stebbins 1951; Jennings et al. 1995), at elevations between 370 and 760 m (Platz 1984; Stebbins 1985). The densest populations of the Vegas Valley leopard frog were at three large springs that were at the western edge of what is currently Las Vegas, at the headwaters of Las Vegas Creek (Wright and Wright 1949). 

Image: a map of the United States with the previous range (in red) and present range (in green) of the Vegas Valley Leopard Frog. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The species was restricted to freshwater streams, springs, seeps, and adjacent riparian (cottonwoods, willows, and tules) habitat associated with Upper Las Vegas Valley (Wright and Wright 1949). (IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe 2004)

History

E. W. Nelson collected the paratype of this species from Las Vegas Ranch near Las Vegas on 9 March 1891 (Platz 1984). Norwegian-born American ornithologist, herpetologist and zoologist Leonhard Hess Stejneger (born 30 October 1851 - died 28 February 1943) described this species as Rana fisheri in 1893.

Historically the Vegas Valley leopard frog must have been relatively abundant and easily found, because collections of large numbers of specimens were taken in two days in 1913 (99 frogs) and one day in 1938 (14 frogs) (Van Denburgh and Slevin 1921; CAS 2001; MVZ 2001). After 1900, urbanization of the valley led to capping of the springs and overdraft of groundwater (Jones and Cahlan 1975). The Vegas Valley population began disappearing due to habitat loss resulting from spring capture and ground water pumping by the growing city of Las Vegas. Around 1920, Bullfrogs Rana catesbeiana (sometimes as Lithobates catesbeianus) were introduced into the Las Vegas area and this species has become common by the mid-1930s (Cowles and Bogert 1936; Center for Biological Diversity and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance 2002) This led to a further decline of the Vegas Valley leopard frog. 

A. Vanderhorst collected ten specimens of this species at Tule Springs on 13 January 1942. These frogs were the last recorded specimens of the Vegas Valles leopard frog, and are now in the University of Michigan Museum of Comparative Zoology collection (Platz 1984). Extensive searches in the region have failed to locate this species  (Jennings & Hammerson 2004). Although some suitable habitat persists within or near the former range of this species, only the Bullfrog can be found there (Jennings & Hammerson 2004). The Vegas Valley leopard frog was now believed to be extinct (Jennings et al. 1995).

Rediscovery

In 2011, genetic analyses by Evon Hekkala of Fordham University in New York City and colleagues confirmed that DNA samples from museum specimens of the Vegas Valley Leopard Frogs (Rana fisheri) were indistinguishable from DNA samples from the northwestern Mogollon Rim population of the Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Rana chiricahuensis). The southeastern population of the Chiricahua Leopard Frog may be a separate species. According to nomenclatural priority, the northwestern Mogollon Rim population of Rana chiricahuensis, described in 1979, is referable to the in 1893 described, extinct population of the species, Rana fisheri. Rana chiricahuensis may remain a valid taxon for the southeastern population of the Chiricahua Leopard Frog. (Hekkala et al. 2011)

Rediscovered Rediscovered

Photographs: The left-hand photograph shows a Chiricahua Leopard Frog or rediscovered Vegas Valley Leopard Frog from Coconino National Forest, Arizona. Photographed by Jim Rorabaugh / USFWS on 20 November 2010. The right-hand photograph shows a Chiricahua Leopard Frog or rediscovered Vegas Valley Leopard Frog from Sycamore Canyon, Arizona. Photographed by Jim Rorabaugh / USFWS on 20 November 2009. Both photographes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Full resolution versions can be found on Wikimedia Commons [1] [2] and Flickr [1] [2].

Conservation Attemps

It occurs in Coconino, Tonto, Apache, Sitgreaves and Gila national forests. Like the southern population of the Chiricahua Leopard Frog, the northern population of Chiricahua Frogs (the rediscovered Vegas Valley Leopard Frog) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2002, and a recovery team was established in 2003. Conservation actions will include both short-term interim actions to prevent further deterioration of the species’ status, and longer-term planning for eventual recovery of the species. Arizona Game and Fish Commission Order 41 prohibit the collection of this species from the wild in Arizona. It is included as Wildlife of Special Concern in Arizona (Arizona Game and Fish Department 1996). Priority research topics include identification of the importance of disease, pesticides and other contaminants, climate change, UV radiation, fire management, and possibly other threats to the status and recovery potential of the Chiricahua Leopard Frog. Also, research is needed on key aspects of the frog’s status, distribution, and ecology. (Santos-Barrera et al. 2004)

Relatives

The relict leopard frog (Rana onca) is the closest living relative of the Vegas Valley leopard frog.

Links

Vegas Valley Leopard Frog - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

References

AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2008. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed: Mar 9, 2008).

Angus et al. 2000. Victims - Seven species no longer with us. Vanishing Frogs. A project planned, written, and researched by the students in the Advanced Editing class at  Arizona State University (fall 2000 semester). (Available online)

California Academy of Sciences (CAS). 2001. California Academy of Sciences herpetology holdings (includes Stanford University collections). San Francisco, California.

Center for Biological Diversity and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. 2002. Petition to list the relict leopard frog (Rana onca) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. (Available online)

Cowles, R. B. and C. Bogert. 1936. The herpetology of the Boulder Dam region (Nev., Ariz., Utah). Herpetologica 1(2):33-42.

Day, D., 1981, The Doomsday Book of Animals, Ebury Press, London. ISBN 0 85223 183 0.

Frost, Darrel R. 2000. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 2.20 (1 September 2000). Electronic Database accessible at http://research.amnh.org/herpetology/amphibia/index.php. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.

Frost, Darrel R. 2006. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 4 (17 August 2006). Electronic Database accessible at http://research.amnh.org/herpetology/amphibia/index.php. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.

Frost, Darrel R. 2007. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 5.1 (10 October, 2007). Electronic Database accessible at http://research.amnh.org/herpetology/amphibia/index.php. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.

Frost et al. 2006. The amphibian tree of life. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Number 297. New York. Issued March 15, 2006.

Hekkala et al. (2011). Resurrecting an extinct species: archival DNA, taxonomy, and conservation of the Vegas Valley leopard frog. Conservation Genetics, Published online: 28 May 2011 [http://www.springerlink.com/content/b51231q85l6n3605/]. DOI: 10.1007/s10592-011-0229-6.

Hillis, D. M. 2007. Constraints in naming parts of the Tree of Life. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 42:331-338.

Hillis, D. M., D. A. Chamberlain, T. P. Wilcox, and P. T. Chippindale. 2001. A new species of subterranean blind salamander (Plethodontidae : Hemidactyliini : Eurycea : Typhlomolge) from Austin, Texas, and a systematic revision of central Texas paedomorphic salamanders. Herpetologica 57:266-280.

Hillis, D. M., and T. P. Wilcox. 2005. Phylogeny of the New World true frogs (Rana). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34:299-314.

IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. <www.globalamphibians.org>. Accessed on 15 October 2004.

Jennings, R.D., Riddle, B.R. and Bradford, D. 1995. Rediscovery of Rana onca, the relict leopard frog, in southern Nevada with comments on the systematic relationships of some leopard frogs (Rana pipiens complex) and the status of populations along the Virgin River. Unpublished report.

Jennings, R. & Hammerson, G. 2004. Rana fisheri. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 10 December 2006.

Jones, F. L. and J. F. Cahlan. 1975. Water. A history of Las Vegas. Vol. 1. Las Vegas Valley Water District, Las Vegas, Nevada. ix+171 pp.

Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley (MVZ). 2001. Museum of Vertebrate Zoology collection holdings. Berkeley, California. 

Linsdale, J. M. 1940. Amphibians and reptiles of Nevada. Proceeding of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 73(8):197-257.

Platz, J. E. 1984. Status report for Rana onca Cope. Unpublished report prepared for Office of Endangered Species, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico. iv+27 pp.

Ron, S. R., J. C. Santos, and D. C. Cannatella. 2006. Phylogeny of the tungara frog genus Engystomops (=Physalaemus pustulosus species group; Anura: Leptodactylidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39:392-403.

Santos-Barrera, G., Hammerson, G., Sredl, M. (2004). Lithobates chiricahuensis. In: IUCN (2011). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 August 2011.

Stebbins, R. C. 1951. Amphibians of western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley, California. ix+539 pp.

Stebbins, R. C. 1985. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.. Mild. Nat. 77:323-355.

Stejneger, L. 1893. Annotated list of the reptiles and batrachians collected by the Death Valley Expedition in 1891, with descriptions of new species. North American Fauna 7: 159-228.

Van Denburgh, J. and J. R. Slevin. 1921. A list of the amphibians and reptiles of Nevada, with notes on the species in the collection of the Academy. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 4th ser., 11(2): 27-38.

Wright, A.H. and Wright, A.A. 1949. Handbook of frogs and toads of the United States and Canada, third Edition. Comstock Publishing Company, Inc, Ithaca, New York, USA.

   
Citation: Maas, P.H.J. (2011). Vegas Valley Leopard Frog - Rana fisheri. In: TSEW (). The Sixth Extinction Website. <http://www.petermaas.nl/extinct>. Downloaded on .
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Updated: 21 August 2011

 

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