Surveys for presence of Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa): background information and field methods

Interagency Special Status / Sensitive Species Program (ISSSSP)

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The Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) is the most aquatic of the native frogs in the Pacific Northwest. The common name derives from the pattern of black, ragged-edged spots set against a brown or red ground color on the dorsum of adult frogs. Oregon spotted frogs are generally associated with wetland complexes that have several aquatic habitat types and sizeable coverage of emergent vegetation. Like other ranid frogs native to the Northwest, Oregon spotted frogs breed in spring, larvae transform in summer of their breeding year, and adults tend to be relatively short lived (3-5 yrs). Each life stage (egg, tadpole, juvenile and adult) has characteristics that present challenges for detection. Breeding can be explosive and completed within 1-2 weeks. Egg masses are laid in aggregations, often in a few locations in large areas of potential habitat. Egg masses can develop, hatch, and disintegrate in <2 weeks during warm weather. Tadpoles can be difficult to identify, have low survival, and spend most of their 3-4 months hidden in vegetation or flocculant substrates. Juveniles and adults are often difficult to capture and can spend summers away from breeding areas. Moreover, a substantial portion of extant populations are of limited size (<100 breeding adults), and field densities of all life stages are often low. An understanding of the biology of the species and use of multiple visits are thus important for assessing presence of Oregon spotted frogs. This report is meant to be a resource for USDA Region 6 Forest Service (FS) and OR/WA Bureau of Land Management (BLM) personnel tasked with surveying for the presence of Oregon spotted frogs. Our objective was to summarize information to improve the efficiency of field surveys and increase chances of detection if frogs are present. We include overviews of historical and extant ranges of Oregon spotted frog. We briefly summarize what is known of Oregon spotted frog habitat associations and review aspects of behavior and ecology that are likely to affect detectability in the field. We summarize characteristics that can help differentiate Oregon spotted frog life stages from other northwestern ranid frogs encountered during surveys. Appendices include examples of data collection formats and a protocol for disinfecting field gear.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Other Government Series
Surveys for presence of Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa): background information and field methods
Series title:
Interagency Special Status / Sensitive Species Program (ISSSSP)
Year Published:
U.S. Forest Service
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
48 p.; Appendices
United States