Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Invasion of American bullfrogs along the Yellowstone River

January 20, 2016

The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is a globally distributed invasive species that was introduced to the Yellowstone River floodplain of Montana. Knowledge about floodplain habitat features that allow for bullfrog persistence and spread will help identify effective control strategies. We used field surveys in 2010, 2012 and 2013 to describe bullfrog spread in the Yellowstone River floodplain and the habitat features that are associated with bullfrog occupancy and colonization. Bullfrogs in our study area expanded from ~ 60 km in 2010 to 106 km in 2013, and are spreading to up- and downstream habitats. The number of breeding sites (i.e., presence of bullfrog eggs or larvae) increased from 12 sites in 2010 to 45 sites in 2013. We found that bullfrogs were associated with deeper waters, emergent vegetation and public-access sites, which are habitat features that characterize permanent waters and describe human-mediated introductions. Control strategies that reduce the hydroperiod of breeding sites may help to limit bullfrog persistence and spread, while an increase in public outreach and education may help prevent further bullfrog introductions at public-access sites.