Save The Frogs in Arizona (2012)

An update from Arizona by Michael G. Starkey, SAVE THE FROGS! Advisory Committee Chairman

When you think of Arizona, what comes to mind? Cacti, rattlesnakes, or tumbleweeds right? However, when I think of Arizona… I think of frogs!

I know what you are thinking: “Frogs? In a desert?” It’s true! Arizona has many different types of ecosystems that support a great diversity of amphibian species. From lush forests to arid deserts, frogs can be be found! In Arizona, there are 25 species of amphibians and they all need your help!

Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Rana chiricahuensis

The Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Rana chiricahuensis

Introduction: SAVE THE FROGS! was invited by the National Park Service to speak at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I gave a presentation to staff, docents, and visitors about amphibian ecology and conservation. After my talk, I headed south to participate in Chiricahua Leopard Frog surveys with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Amphibians in Arizona are facing considerable challenges and conservation is key to their survival. Currently there are 7 species of amphibians that are protected in the state. One species, the Chiricahua Leopard Frog, faces threats from competition with non-native American Bullfrogs, loss of habitat, and the deadly chytrid fungus. Arizona Game and Fish have been working incredibly hard to save the Chiricahua Leopard Frog from extinction with an extensive recovery plan. As the Chiricahua Leopard Frog is declining from much of its historic range, it is crucial to keep up to date on how the frogs are persisting where they still exist.

Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Rana chiricahuensis, Frog habitat

We headed to the Galiuro Mountain Range and surveyed frog densities at various ponds and canyons. Luckily the frogs can still be found here, but Arizona Game and Fish are monitoring their populations closely to make sure they are surviving and thriving.

Chiricahua Leopard Frog Tadpoles, Rana chiricahuensis

Photo: Katrina Smith, Arizona Game and Fish Department

We found many Chiricahua Leopard Frog tadpoles, juveniles, and adults. We even found an egg mass! This egg mass was about the size of a football and was absolutely beautiful. It is great to see that the frogs are breeding here in the Galiuros!

Leopard Frog, Frog Eggs

This time of year the tadpoles are metamorphosing into frogs and when there are lots of frogs, then the predators are not too far away! We were incredibly fortunate to see an amazing predator/prey relationship take place as a Black-necked Gartersnake, Thamnophis cyrtopsis, consumed a juvenile Chiricahua Leopard FrogEven though the frog is a protected species, it is important to understand that amphibians play a integral role in balancing ecosystems by being a food source for many different species.

Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Rana chiricahuensis, Black-necked Gartersnake, Frog predators

With the dedicated efforts coordinated by Arizona Game and Fish, hopefully we can see a rebound in amphibian populations in Arizona. However, these frogs need our help today!

Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Rana chiricahuensis

Chiricahua Leopard Frogs, Rana chiricahuensis

How you can help frogs in Arizona:

Use less water: Water is necessary for amphibians and most municipal water supplies are diverting water from their natural locations. Frogs need these clean, natural water bodies to live and breed in. Do your part by being water smart! Do not let the tap run, use water saving appliances in your home, and plant native plants in your yards that use less water.

Slow down on rainy nights: During those heavy summer rains, Amphibians like to take their time crossing the road…give them a brake! Roadkill is a significant cause of frog mortality in many parts of the world. Drive slower on wet nights. Help a frog or toad cross the road (careful: don’t cause an accident or get squashed yourself).

Find out more ways to help amphibians in Arizona from going extinct:

Come see me speak on September 18th in Tucson, AZ:

SAVE THE FROGS! Advisory Committee Chairman Michael Starkey will be giving a presentation titled “The Amphibian Extinction Crisis: Current issues facing amphibians worldwide and what you can do about it!” for the Tucson Herpetological Society. This event is open to the public and will be held at 7pm in room 103 at the University of Arizona, Bio5/Keating Building in Palo Tucson, AZ.

For more information, please click here:

Canyon Tree Frog, Hyla arenicolor

Canyon Tree Frog metamorph, Hyla arenicolor

Thank you for reading and see you at my talk! Together we can save the frogs!

Written by Michael G. Starkey, SAVE THE FROGS! Advisory Committee Chairman