Pseudacris sierra
Pseudacris sierra
(Sierran Chorus Frog)
Amphibians-Frogs
Native Transplant
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Pseudacris sierra (James, Mackey, and Richmond, 1966)

Common name: Sierran Chorus Frog

Synonyms and Other Names: Central Pacific Chorus Frog, Pseudacris regilla

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Pseudacris sierra is a small hylid (treefrog) with a SVL (snout-vent length) of 19-50 mm (0.75-2 in) and small toe pads (disks) (Stebbins, 2003). The dorsal coloration of these color-changing, sometimes mottled, frogs also varies genetically:  green, reddish, tan, gray, brown, or black, but typically green or shades of brown (Stebbins, 1972, 2003; Leonard et al., 1993; Lamar, 1997; Werner et al., 2004).  Unlike Pseudacris cadaverina, the California chorus frog, a black or dark brown eyestripe or mask is more often present, green is the more common dorsal color, and the toe pads are not as large and conspicuous (Powell et al., 1998; Stebbins, 2003). Distinct morphological criteria for distinguishing P. sierra from its sister species the northern Pacific chorus frog, Pseudacris regilla, and the Baja California chorus frog, P. hypochondriaca, have not yet been established. See the species accounts titled “Pseudacris hypochondriaca (Hallowell, 1854)” and “Pseudacris regilla (Baird and Girard, 1852)” on this website. The Sierran chorus frog’s call is a stereotypical, loud, two-part “kreck-ek” or “ribbit” (Stebbins, 2003); it is identical to its sister species P. hypochondriaca, the most commonly used frog call on Hollywood movie soundtracks regardless of the locality depicted in the movie (Davidson, 1995, 1996; Stebbins, 2003; Beltz, 2005). It is shorter, lower-pitched, and less musical than the call made by P. cadaverina (Stebbins, 2003). Recordings of the calls of P. sierra, under the name P. regilla, are available on CDs (Davidson, 1995, 1996; Elliott et a., 2009).  The tadpoles of P. sierra are light greenish gray or olive brown, have high tail fins, and the internal viscera can be seen ventrally (Stebbins, 1972, 2003; Werner et al., 2004).

Sierran chorus frogs have been illustrated by a variety of authorities (Test, 1898; Wright and Wright, 1949; Stebbins, 1954, 1959, 1972, 1985, 2003; Basey, 1976; Smith, 1978; Behler and King, 1979; Kricher, 1993; Leonard et al., 1993; Stebbins and Cohen, 1995; Lamar, 1997; Werner et al., 2004; Beltz, 2005; Elliott et al., 2009; Krysko et al., 2011: MorphoBank Project No. p538, www.morphobank.org). Halliday (2002) and Werner et al. (2004) illustrate deformities found in natural populations.

Size: SVL is 19-50 mm.

Native Range: Pseudacris sierra is indigenous to Pacific and western regions of North America, from southeastern Oregon, western Montana, western Idaho, Nevada, through central California (Test, 1898; Stebbins, 1959, 1972, 2003; Jameson et al., 1966; Basey, 1976; Campbell et al., 1982; Nussbaum et al., 1983; Leonard et al., 1993; Lamar, 1997; Duellman and Sweet, 1999; Boundy, 2001; Ripplinger and Wagner, 2004; Werner et al., 2004; Recuero et al., 2006a, b; Elliott et al., 2009).

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: Howland (1996) lists “P. regilla” as being nonindigenous in Arizona without providing specific locality data. Moreover, Brennan and Holycross (2006) list “P. regilla” populations in Maricopa and Pima Counties, and extreme northwestern Mohave County as nonindigenous. As these publications came out before P. hypochondriaca was split from P. sierra by Recuero et al. (2006a, b), it is not clear what species of chorus frog is involved.

Stebbins (1985, 2003) suspects that Sierran chorus frogs in Soda Springs, California, are introduced.  He is probably referring to a city by that name in Tulare County, as two other Soda Springs in California (Nevada and Mendocino Counties), are well within the indigenous range of P. sierra in that state.

On 24 August 1983, two P. sierra were intercepted (UF 116750–51) on bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) seedlings at a cargo dock at the Miami International Airport, Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida (Krysko et al., 2011). The shipment originated from a horticultural business in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California. On 3 November 1986, a gravid female P. sierra was intercepted in a shipment of climbing bird’s nest ferns (Microsorium punctatum “Grandiceps”) that reached a plant nursery at 2005 Jaudon Road in Dover, Hillsborough County, Florida, and was subsequently transferred to the Florida Department of agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry (DPI), Gainesville, and then the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) (UF 65748: Krysko et al., 2011). The origin of the ferns and frog was the same horticultural business above in Santa Rosa, California. On 20 June 2007, an adult P. sierra was intercepted in a shipment of starter ferns (plant species not specified) in a different nursery located at 4630 Reola Road, Dover, Hillsborough County, Florida (Krysko et al., 2011). This specimen was originally transferred to DPI (Entomology number E2007–4456), before being deposited in the FLMNH (UF 152457: Krysko et al., 2011: MorphoBank Project No. p538, www.morphobank.org). This plant shipment also originated from the same horticultural business in Santa Rosa, California.

Means of Introduction: It is not entirely known how a nonindigenous species of the P. regilla complex was introduced to Arizona although plant nurseries are involved in a some cases (Brennan and Holycross, 2006). It is interesting to note that Howland (1996) seemed unaware that indigenous populations of P. hypochondriaca exist in the northwestern region of the state (Stebbins, 1985, 2003; Brennan and Holycross, 2006; Recuero et al., 2006a).

The means of introduction for the P. sierra population in Tulare County is unknown, and it is possible it may be an indigenous population (Stebbins, 1985). Perhaps it is a relict population.

All the P. sierra specimens intercepted in Florida arrived from horticultural shipments (Krysko et al., 2011).

Status: Nonindigenous chorus frogs are established in Arizona (Brennan and Holycross, 2006), but it is not clear which species is involved.

Suspected nonindigenous P. sierra are established in Tulare County, California (Stebbins, 2003).  They seem confined to this area.

Nonindigenous P. sierra in Florida were all intercepted (Krysko et al., 2011), and not established. However, its persistent entry into Florida for nearly 25 years through the same horticultural commerce from California is certainly cause for concern (Krysko et al., 2011).

Impact of Introduction: The impact of suspected nonindigenous Pseudacris in Arizona and California will remain unclear as long as their exact species identity or status as nonindigenous or indigenous populations remains uncertain. The P. sierra intercepted in Florida had no impact.

Remarks: The taxonomy of the P. regilla complex has been reviewed or summarized by numerous authors (Test, 1898; Jameson et al., 1966; Case et al., 1975; Frost, 1985, 2000, 2007; Collins and Taggart, 2002, 2009; Crother et al., 2003; Ripplinger and Wagner, 2004; Faivovich et al., 2005; Frost et al., 2006, 2008; Recuero et al., 2006a, b).  Although currently placed in the genus Pseudacris, at one time all species in the Pacific chorus frog complex were in the genus Hyla (reviewed by Frost, 2000); Pacific “treefrogs.” Recuero et al. (2006a) revised the Pacific chorus frog complex, and then corrected the taxonomy (Recuero et al., 2006b), by splitting it into three species: P. hypochondriaca, P. sierra, and P. regilla (Frost et al., 2008). See the species accounts titled “Pseudacris regilla (Baird and Girard, 1852)” and “Pseudacris hypochondriaca (Hallowell, 1854)” on this website. The natural history and biology of P. sierra and its two sister species are summarized by Wright and Wright (1949), Nussbaum et al. (1983), Leonard et al. (1993), Stebbins and Cohen (1995), Stebbins (2003), Werner et al. (2004), and Elliott et al. (2009).

Pseudacris sierra frequents a variety of habitats and elevations, from sea level to mountains, grasslands, forests, and farmlands (Kricher, 1993; Leonard et al., 1993; Lamar, 1997; Boundy, 2001; Stebbins, 2003). This adaptable little hylid is chiefly a terrestrial, nonclimber, preferring to remain among low plants near or along water (Leonard et al., 1993; Stebbins, 2003; Elliott et al., 2009). Individuals of varying colors will preferentially select microhabitat substrates that most closely match their individual color (Stebbins and Cohen, 1995; Werner et al., 2004). They breed and lay their eggs in a variety of waters including marshes, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, slow streams, and roadside ditches (Nussbaum et al., 1983; Kricher, 1993; Leonard et al., 1993; Stebbins, 2003; Werner et al., 2004; Elliott et al., 2009).

References: (click for full references)

Basey, H. E. 1976. Discovering Sierra Reptiles and Amphibians. Yosemite Natural History Association/Sequoia Natural History Association in cooperation with National Park Service, [place of publication not provided].

Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York. 743 pp.

Beltz, E. 2005. Frogs. Inside Their Remarkable World. Firefly Books Ltd, Richmond Hill, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York. 175 pp.

Boundy, J. 2001. Herpetofaunal surveys in the Clark Fork Valley region, Montana. Herpetological Natural History 8(1): 15-26.

Brennan, T. C., and A. T. Holycross. 2006. Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix. 150 pp.

Campbell, R. W., M. G. Shepard, B. M. Van Der Raay, and P. T. Gregory. 1982. A bibliography of Pacific Northwest herpetology. British Columbia Provincial Museum Heritage Record (14):i-vi, 1-151.

Case, S. M., P. G. Haneline, and M. F. Smith. 1975. Protein variation in several species of Hyla. Systematic Zoology 24(3): 281-295.

Collins, J. T., and T. W. Taggart. 2002. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles & Crocodilians. Fifth Edition. The Center for North American Herpetology, Lawrence, Kansas.  44 pp

Collins, J. T., and T. W. Taggart. 2009. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles & Crocodilians. Sixth Edition. The Center for North American Herpetology, Lawrence, Kansas.  44 pp.

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Davidson, C. 1995. Frog and Toad Calls of the Pacific Coast. Vanishing Voices. Library of Natural Sounds, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca. Audio CD Recording.

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Duellman, W. E., and S. S. Sweet. 1999. Distribution patterns of amphibians in the Nearctic Region of North America. Pp. 31-109. In: W. E. Duellman (editor). Patterns of Distribution of Amphibians. A Global Perspective. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 633 pp.

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Author: Somma, L.A.

Revision Date: 11/1/2011

Citation Information:
Somma, L.A., 2017, Pseudacris sierra (James, Mackey, and Richmond, 1966): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2780, Revision Date: 11/1/2011, Access Date: 11/20/2017

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [11/20/2017].

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