The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog is a medium-sized frog that was listed as endangered on June 30, 2014. Living in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, these frogs prefer lakes, ponds, marshes, meadows and streams at elevations ranging from 4,500 to 12,000 feet (1,370 to 3,660 meters).
Threats to the frog include:
- Habitat destruction due to dams and water diversions, recreation, grazing, road construction and timber harvesting
- Impacts of , including wildfire and drought
- Introduction of trout, bullfrogs and other non-native species that carry diseases and eat the frog
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs live in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains in lakes, ponds, marshes, meadows and streams at elevations ranging from 4,500 to 12,000 feet (1,370 to 3,660 meters). Their range extends from the western Sierra Nevada north of Fresno County and the eastern Sierra Nevada in Inyo and Mono counties. They are primarily found on National Forests and National Parks in Lassen, Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mono, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, and Inyo counties, California.
A considerable inland body of standing water.
A landmass that projects conspicuously above its surroundings and is higher than a hill.
A natural body of running water.
Areas such as marshes or swamps that are covered often intermittently with shallow water or have soil saturated with moisture.
Adults feed on terrestrial and aquatic insects and other amphibians. Adults forage for prey at the bottoms of lakes, ponds and streams, as well as in shallow waters and onshore. Tadpoles feed on algae.
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs maximize body temperatures during the day by basking in the sun, moving between water and land and concentrating in the warmer shallows along the shoreline.
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs return to the same overwintering and summer habitats each year. Both adults and tadpoles overwinter for up to nine months in the bottoms of lakes, ponds and in-stream pools that are at least 5.6 feet deep (1.7 meters); however, overwinter survival may be greater in lakes that are at least 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) deep. Rock crevices, holes and ledges near water offer protection to overwintering frogs when water bodies freeze over completely.
The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog is a medium-sized frog. Males are slightly smaller than females.
Length: 1.5 to 3.75 in (40 to 95 mm)
Adult coloration is highly variable; individuals tend to have a mix of brown and yellow coloring on their upper body, but they can also be gray, red or greenish-brown. Most individuals have dark spots or splotches on their back and yellow or light-orange undersides and undersurface of the hind limbs.
While the life span of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs is unknown, they are presumed to be long-lived amphibians.
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs reach sexual maturity at 3 and 4 years of age. Adults emerge from overwintering sites immediately following snowmelt and move toward breeding sites. They will even move over ice to get there. The frogs breed in the shallows of ponds and lakes or in inlet streams.
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs deposit their eggs underwater in clusters, which they attach to rocks, gravel or vegetation. Each clutch can contain 15 to 350 eggs per mass. Eggs hatch between 16 to 21 days after fertilization.
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs closely resemble the mountain yellow-legged frog, but can be distinguished by their shorter legs.
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