Resolution regarding the status of northeastern populations of Chorus FrogsWhereas: The call of the Chorus Frog, Pseudacris triseriata, is an emblem of the arrival of spring,
and whereas around the Great Lakes and in the St Lawrence drainage the counterpoint of the distinctive creaking call of the Western or Midland Chorus Frog, Pseudacris triseriata triseriata, assures listeners of diversity among the short whistled sleigh-bell notes of the more widespread Spring Peeper, Pseudacris crucifer,
and whereas the presence of this species around the Great Lakes and St Lawrence, at the northeastern extremity of its range, is a reminder of the Hypsithermal, when, in the warm climates that immediately followed deglaciation, a peninsula of prairie habitat and species spread northeast between the Appalachians and the Shield,
and whereas, Chorus Frogs have here depended on a traditionally diverse landscape to thrive, as have the Upland Sandpiper, Indigo Bunting, Loggerhead Shrike, and many other species which live around traditional agricultural habitats, but are now declining.
and whereas in recent decades Chorus Frogs have become extinct, or nearly extinct, in Vermont, have suffered substantial declines in Quebec, and seem to have also declined in western and northern New York, and in eastern Ontario, the Lake Huron drainage of Ontario, and around Toronto,
and whereas in the first five years of the Marsh Monitoring programme, Chorus Frogs were the only species of Frog or Toad to significantly decline in frequency in the Great Lakes Basin (Weeber & Vallianatos. 2000. The Marsh Monitoring Program 1995-1999).
and whereas none of us know of a region in the lower Great Lakes or St Lawrence basin where Chorus Frog populations can safely be regarded as stable,
and whereas urbanization, intensified agriculture (especially tile drainage and nitrate-rich runoff), and the return of forests by secondary succession have been shown to eliminate Chorus Frog populations, and various forms of habitat fragmentation are thought to contribute to these extinctions,
and whereas the habitat of Chorus Frogs seems like the ideal place for People to establish new buildings and facilities in which to live and work, while increasing human residences, industry, traffic, and services fundamentally change the landscape in ways that often lead to the decline of Chorus Frogs and other middle landscape species,
and whereas: in Ontario, at least, the property tax system does not allow rebates or other incentives to landowners who maintain diversity on middle landscape habitats such as the small wetlands, wet fields, and ditches used by the Chorus Frog,
and whereas, herpetologists have listened to the calls of Chorus Frogs in the spring, without knowing much about larval life, or anything about the non-breeding life of adults or juveniles, or interactions with other species,
and whereas, while we fear declines, in many areas these are inadequately documented, and we know little about rates of recolonization at sites where Chorus Frogs have once ceased to call
We, the First International Conference on Northeastern Pseudacris triseriata, assembled in Kemptville, Grenville County, Ontario, on 4 March 2001:declare Chorus Frogs a totem of early spring and the middle landscape, whose abundance signifies all that is best about rural land use patterns of 19th and 20th century agricultural settlement around the Great Lakes and in the St Lawrence drainage, and a totem of the Prairie Peninsula/hypsithermal history of this region, and of the vulnerability of biotic diversity in settled landscapes...
express our profound unease about the species' prospects in this area in coming decades...
commend the governments of Vermont, Quebec, and New York for assigning ‘Endangered,' ‘Vulnerable' and ‘Restricted' status to the species in their jurisdictions...
commend the government of Quebec for its support of ongoing monitoring and life history studies of Chorus Frogs...
commend the United States Geological Survey for supporting resurveys of sites in New York where Chorus Frogs were inventoried in the 1970s...
urge our herpetological colleagues, naturalists, and the general public to keep these known and suspected declines in mind when thinking about the impact of human activities on diversity...
and urge governments and municipal planners to recognize Chorus Frogs as a conspicuous species which will continue to thrive in a truely rural landscape, to monitor Chorus Frog populations, and to modify land use plans, zoning, and taxation to accommodate the requirements of Chorus Frogs as these become evident, in order to preserve the rural character of settled areas.
in support of these aims we suggest the following actions:- publish expanded abstracts of our presentations at the conference website.
- assemble a library and bibliography of Chorus Frogs in general, and especially of unpublished documents about the species in the northeastern portion of its range.
- resurvey as many sites as possible by spring listening, and continue to repeatedly resurvey sites where Chorus Frogs and Peepers have been heard in the past, ensuring that both current surveys and all historical records are deposited in jurisdictional herpetological atlases
- check the status of the easternmost populations of Boreal Chorus Frogs (P. t. maculata) around Thunder Bay, White River, and elsewhere in northern Ontario, and along the James Bay coast of Ontario and Quebec,
- test ecological hypotheses by using GIS methods to transform distributional data from herpetological atlases into tests of hypotheses for declines, and develop metapopulation models based on survey records of extirpation and recolonization.
- study the life history of the species in the non-breeding seasons.
- assess the possibility of a general decline in Ontario, both by documenting absence from places where the species previously occurred, and by identifying any regions in Ontario where Chorus Frog populations are stable or increasing
- listen at alvars, old prairies, and other open areas where the species might have lived before agricultural settlement, to hear how Chorus Frogs are doing there.
- contact Bird Atlases to ask that they make provision for their observers to learn, and record diurnal auditions of, the calls of both Pseudacris species.
- locally reintroduce Chorus Frogs to places where they have disappeared in a context of finding how many reintroductions are required to offset loss of metapopulation connections
- assemble all existing records, and relisten at all sites in the Ontario Brockville/ Merrickville/ Kemptville/ Ottawa map quadrats, preparatory to an analysis of air photos to see what ecological changes are associated with changes in the status of Chorus Frogs.
- experiment with backyard and garden ponds in which Chorus Frogs can reproduce, and prepare (EOBM) a pamphlet about the ecological consequences of such water bodies, and of swimming pools, in residential areas.
- suggest that gravelpit restoration plans include Amphibian and reptile habitat - especially for Chorus Frogs - and that those who seek to manage ecologically benign golf courses take the persistence of Chorus Frogs as a sign of success in this enterprise.
- maintain and establish, by grazing and burning, areas of tall-grass prairie with pothole-like ponds where Chorus Frogs can flourish within a diverse grassland ecosystem, even in regions where such prairies would be engulfed by forest if not actively maintained,
- educate the general public about the ecological significance of Chorus Frogs, and the difference
between their calls and those of Peepers, incorporate .Frog-watchers in the survey process, and
urge political awareness of Chorus Frogs decline.
First International Conference on Northeastern Chorus Frogs 3-4 March, 2001At The Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum, 24 presenters from various parts of southern and eastern Ontario, southwestern Quebec, northern and western New York State, and Vermont, shared their findings on Chorus Frogs: their history, habits, evidence and reasons for decline, and plans for further study and conservation strategies.
last updated : 10 March 2001, and moved to pinicola.ca 17 February 2006, F. W. Schueler.
back to the Chorus Frog Conference page