Northern leopard frogs (Rana [Lithobates] pipiens) are considered sensitive, threatened, or endangered in all western states and western Canadian provinces. Historically present in eastern Washington in 6 major river drainages, leopard frogs are now only known to occur at 2 localized areas in the Crab Creek drainage in Grant County. During the summers of 2002-2005, we surveyed both areas to document extent of leopard frog distributions and to describe habitat and vertebrate community characteristics associated with leopard frog site occupancy. At Gloyd Seeps, 2 juvenile leopard frogs were observed in a total of 8.2 person-days of searching along a 5-km stream reach. At Potholes Reservoir, we surveyed 243 wetland sites in 7 management units known to have been occupied by leopard frogs during the 1980s. We confirmed leopard frog presence at only 87 sites (36%) in 4 management units. Site occupancy models for individual ponds indicated that, compared to unoccupied sites, occupied sites had slightly greater pond depths, less tall emergent vegetation, more herbaceous vegetative cover, and fewer neighboring ponds containing nonnative predatory fish. Models developed at the 1-km2 scale indicated that occupied areas had greater average midsummer pond depths, fewer ponds occupied by bullfrogs (Rana [Lithobates] catesbeiana) and carp (Cyprinus carpio), and more herbaceous vegetation surrounding ponds. The Gloyd Seeps population now appears defunct, and the Potholes Reservoir population is in sharp decline. Unless management actions are taken to reduce nonnative fish and bullfrogs and to enhance wetland vegetation, leopard frogs may soon be extirpated from both sites and possibly, therefore, from Washington.
Additional publication details
Distribution and postbreeding environmental relationships of Northern leopard frogs (Rana [Lithobates] pipiens) in Washington