National Wildlife Refuge System

New Frog Species Identified

Leopard frog at Great Swamp Refuge, NJ
Leopard frog at Great Swamp Refuge, NJ
Credit:Colin Osborn/USFWS

A new species of leopard frog has been identified in the New York metropolitan area and at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in nearby New Jersey.

The new frog was first identified by its mating call. “It’s pretty undramatic,” said doctoral student Jeremy Feinberg to a television reporter, “but for a trained biologist, you notice it and it sounds very different.” Feinberg previously worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  He expects to continue looking for the new frog on other refuges on Long Island. It has also been documented at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, NJ.

DNA testing has now confirmed that the frog is indeed a new species; it had frequently been confused with the southern leopard frog. The new species has not yet been named.

Great Swamp Refuge deputy manager Steve Henry says the frog appears to be fairly common at Great Swamp and Wallkill River Refuges, “undoubtedly due to the habitat protection offered by refuges,” added Henry. “The frog’s range is small, however, and the species faces numerous threats from the densely populated area in which it lives.”

In the scientific journal article discussing their finding, Feinberg and his colleagues conclude that “species endemic to the Northeast require swift management attention to preserve what biodiversity still remains in the region. Our study revealed a new leopard frog species in the midst of this highly developed region of the U.S., suggesting that the densely populated Northeast still harbors cryptic biodiversity that remains to be discovered.”

Last updated: March 19, 2012