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Comparative microhabitat characteristics at oviposition sites of the California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii)

December 11, 2013

We studied the microhabitat characteristics of 747 egg masses of the federally-threatened Rana draytonii (California red-legged frog) at eight sites in California. our study showed that a broad range of aquatic habitats are utilized by ovipositing R. draytonii, including sites with perennial and ephemeral water sources, natural and constructed wetlands, lentic and lotic hydrology, and sites surrounded by protected lands and nested within modified urban areas. We recorded 45 different egg mass attachment types, although the use of only a few types was common at each site. These attachment types ranged from branches and roots of riparian trees, emergent and submergent wetland vegetation, flooded upland grassland/ruderal vegetation, and debris. eggs were deposited in relatively shallow water (mean 39.7 cm) when compared to maximum site depths. We found that most frogs in artificial pond, natural creek, and artificial channel habitats deposited egg masses within one meter of the shore, while egg masses in a seasonal marsh averaged 27.3 m from the shore due to extensive emergent vegetation. Rana draytonii appeared to delay breeding in lotic habitats and in more inland sites compared to lentic habitats and coastal sites. eggs occurred as early as mid-december at a coastal artificial pond and as late as mid-April in an inland natural creek. We speculate that this delay in breeding may represent a method of avoiding high-flow events and/or freezing temperatures. Understanding the factors related to the reproductive needs of this species can contribute to creating, managing, or preserving appropriate habitat, and promoting species recovery.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2013
Title Comparative microhabitat characteristics at oviposition sites of the California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii)
Authors Jeff A. Alvarez, David G. Cook, Julie L. Yee, Michael G. van Hattem, Darren R. Fong, Robert N. Fisher
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Index ID 70125307
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center