Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Co-occurence of Chiricahua leopard frogs (Lithobates chiricahuensis) with sunfish (Lepomis)

January 9, 2020

Invasive species are a major threat to the persistence of native species, particularly in systems where ephemeral aquatic habitats have been replaced by permanent water and predators, such as fish, have been introduced. Within the Altar Valley, Arizona, the invasive American bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus (formerly Rana catesbeianus), has been successfully eradicated to help recover Chiricahua leopard frogs (Lithobates chiricahuensis). However, other nonnative predators including sunfish (Lepomis) are present in some permanent water bodies. During four consecutive years (2014–2017), we detected both the federally threatened Chiricahua leopard frog and sunfish at one permanent water body in the Altar Valley. This suggests that despite the potential negative effect of predatory fish on amphibians, there may be conditions where the Chiricahua leopard frog can co-occur with this nonnative predator. A better understanding of rare situations of co-occurrence with nonnative predators may contribute to our understanding of why co-occurrence happens in some, but not all, systems and whether conservation strategies can be developed in situations where eradication of nonnative predators is infeasible.