Atlantic Coast Leopard Frogs (Rana kauffeldi): Discoveries on Staten Island by Jeremy Feinberg

by DerdriuMarriner

Savvy science creates the twenty-first century’s Age of Discovery. It helps experts get what they seek and more. It inspires Jeremy Feinberg’s finding Atlantic Coast leopard frogs.

The recognition of frogs hiding in plain sight along the coastal eastern United States of America comes almost eight decades after the first suggestion of the species’ existence. Suspicions regarding occurrences of a third leopard frog species in New York and environs indeed date back to 1936 - 1937. They deal with the savvy expertise and solid experience of Carl Kauffeld (April 11, 1911 – July 10, 1974), as:
• American Museum of Natural History director;
• Amphibian and reptile specialist and writer;
• Staten Island Zoo director.

But it is only in the twenty-first century that due is given after field and lab analyses from 2008 onward and official publications in 2012 and 2014 by Rutgers University-trained scientist Jeremy Feinberg.

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz: identifier of Ranidae, true frog family ~

1810 enamel miniature
Transylvania University, Lexington, Fayette County, Bluegrass Region, north central Kentucky
Transylvania University, Lexington, Fayette County, Bluegrass Region, north central Kentucky

 

Dark spots covering their upper sides and reminding viewers of leopard markings account for the common name leopard frogs. The name also bespeaks membership in the true frog family, Ranidae, identified in 1814 by Ottoman Empire-born European scientist Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz (October 22, 1793 – September 18, 1840), as:

  • Autodidact (“self-instructed”) in English, Greek, Italian, Latin, Spanish;
  • Bilingualist in French, German;
  • Polymath (“having learned much”) in anthropology, biology, botany, geology, linguistics, zoology;
  • Professor at Transylvania University of Lexington, Kentucky;
  • Trader of botanical specimens.  

True frogs exhibit:

  • Brown and green coloration;
  • Dark or yellowish spots;
  • Moist skin;
  • Powerful legs;
  • Slim waists;
  • Webbed feet.

They also get called pond frogs while leopard frogs additionally may be described as meadow frogs.

 

Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens, formerly known as Rana pipiens): New World true frog, native of Canada's Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay, southward into U.S. to Kentucky and New Mexico; disjunct population in eastern Panama

Welland Canal, Southern Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, east central Canada
Welland Canal, Southern Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, east central Canada

 

Subtropical and temperate weather appeals to leopard frogs (Rana spp). The spotted amphibians indeed are found in:

  • Europe;
  • North America.

Some species can survive in the Western Hemisphere as far south as Mexico and the Central American countries of:

  • Belize;
  • Guatemala;
  • Honduras;
  • Nicaragua.  

Some wildlife-loving amateurs also consider within the leopard frog’s southernmost American bio-geographies the Central American countries of:

  • Costa Rica;
  • El Salvador;
  • Panama.

But all leopard frog species converge in requiring within the above-mentioned, wide-ranging distributional ranges niches which offer access to:

  • Individualized territories;
  • Invertebrate prey;
  • Unpolluted air, lands, and moisture;
  • Vegetative cover;
  • Warm-weather temperatures of 60 – 80°F (16 – 27°C), with daytime averages of 77°F (25°C) and with night-time lows at 59°F (15°C);
  • Water bodies.

 

subspecies of Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus utricularia):

Southern Leopards, which inhabit southeastern third of U.S., have two subspecies: L. sphenocephalus sphenocephalus and L. spenocephalus utricularia
Tampa, Hillsborough County, west central Florida
Tampa, Hillsborough County, west central Florida

 

All species of leopard frogs also articulate similar natural histories. The leopard frog’s lifespan begins as one of 3,000 – 6,000 eggs bulk-deposited by each mother-to-be during species-specific mating seasons. The mass gives flat, white impressions. Each egg has a diameter of 0.067 inches (1.7 millimeters). Successfully fertilized eggs hatch into tadpoles whose individual lengths hover around 2.56 – 3.27 inches (65 – 83 millimeters). Young leopard frogs must wait 2 – 3 years before realization of:

  • Physical adulthood, with species-defined sizes ranging from 1.75 inches (4.45 centimeters) for the smallest -- the relict leopard (Rana onca) -- to 5.25 inches (13.34 centimeters) for the largest -- the Chiricahua (Rana chiricuensis).
  • Sexual maturity.

The complete life cycle takes 6 – 9 years.

 

Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber (January 17, 1739 - December 10, 1810) is credited with official presentation of Northern Leopard Frog in 1782.

Ignaz Dörfler, Botaniker-Porträts (1907), No. 37
Ignaz Dörfler, Botaniker-Porträts (1907), No. 37

 

The historically most familiar, numerous, and widespread leopard frog species are the northern (Rana pipiens) and the southern (Rana sphenocephala). Formal acquaintance of wildlife-loving amateurs and professionals with the first-mentioned species dates back to 1782, thanks to Weißensee-born German scientist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber’s (January 17, 1739 – December 10, 1810) industriousness, as:

  • Author of Die Säugethiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen (“Mammals Illustrated from Nature with Descriptions”);
  • Professor of materia medica (pharmacology) at University of Erlangen.

Official presentation of the second-mentioned species contrastingly goes back to 1886. It showcases Philadelphia-born United Statesian scientist Edward Drinker Cope’s (July 28, 1840 – April 12, 1897) expertise, as:

  • Anatomist;
  • Herpetologist (Amphibian and reptile specialist);
  • Ichthyologist (Fish specialist);
  • Paleontologist.

 

Edward Drinker Cope (July 28, 1840 – April 12, 1897) is credited with official presentation of Southern Leopard Frog in 1886.

undated portrait by Frederick Gutekunst (September 25, 1831 - Sep. 25, 1831)
undated portrait by Frederick Gutekunst (September 25, 1831 - Sep. 25, 1831)

 

The northern leopard frog’s southeastern coastal limits approximate the southern leopard frog’s northeastern coastal limits in:

  • Connecticut;
  • New Jersey;
  • New York.

Tri-State convergence points articulate:

  • Predictions of a third species by Carl Kauffeld in 1936 – 1937;
  • Proof of Rana kauffeldi by Jeremy Feinberg in 2008 – 2014.

But the Atlantic Coast leopard frog’s physique -- superficially similar to those of the above-mentioned semi-sympatric (“part-overlapping”) species -- challenge quick identification. Telltale differences nevertheless emerge respecting:

  • Behavior, with super-short breeding seasons in March;
  • Genetics, per DNA and mitochondrial analyses;
  • Morphology, with black-spotted rear-legs and larger vocal sacs;
  • Vocalizations, with low-pitched, single-pulsed chuck -- not ak-ak-ak, chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck.

Kauffeld frogs additionally handle boggy wetland niches which northerners and southerners avoid.

 

Photographs of Rana kauffeldi: "Male frog presented live: (a) whole body, dorsolateral view and (b) dorsal view; and preserved: (c) dorsal view and (d) ventral view."

Photographers: Brian R. Curry (a), Brian Zarate (b), and Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell (c–d).
Jeremy Feinberg et al., "Cryptic Diversity in Metropolis" (2014), Figure 2
Jeremy Feinberg et al., "Cryptic Diversity in Metropolis" (2014), Figure 2

 

Atlantic Coast leopard frogs breed at 50 – 64.4°F (10 – 18°C) during March (sometimes April – June, October – November) in:

  • Cattail (Typha spp), maple (Acer rubrum), reed (Phragmites australis) meadowlands;
  • Ephemeral pools;
  • Freshwater wetlands:
  • Open-canopied marshes;
  • Riverside floodplains;
  • Slow-flowing streams;
  • Tide-influenced backwaters.

Substantiation demands long heads with:

  • Black-specked, brown-grained, cream-spotted tympanum (hearing organ);
  • Dark eye-patches;
  • Ivory-striped, slate-grey mouth;
  • Prominent eyes, nostrils;
  • Tapered snout, with brown and darker backward-running bands.

Each short fore-arm displays four fringeless, round-tipped, unwebbed fingers. Both long hind-legs exhibit:

  • Brown-spotted bars, elongations;
  • Equal-sized shanks, thighs;
  • Five grey-webbed, round-tipped toes.

Brown-spotted, mint-grey, olive-green, smooth-skinned bodies have:

  • Dark, side-paired vocal sacs;
  • Granulated groin;
  • Light-spotted, yellow-green undersides;
  • Pink-grey lower-limb inner-sides;
  • Raised folds, from eyes to pelvis;
  • Yellow-green upper-limb inner-sides.

 

Leopard frog distributions in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic US: An arrow indicates type locality for Rana kauffeldi ~

"Left: currently recognized IUCN (2012) range maps for R. pipiens (green) and R. sphenocephala (red) with areas of potential overlap (hatched). Right: newly interpreted distributions for all three leopard frog species including R. kauffeldi."
Jeremy Feinberg et al., "Cryptic Diversity in Metropolis" (2014), Figure 1
Jeremy Feinberg et al., "Cryptic Diversity in Metropolis" (2014), Figure 1

Conclusion

 

Scientists attribute to amphibians ecological roles as:

  • Environmental obligates;
  • Keystone species.

Such attributions communicate the fact that caecilians (vision-challenged worm look-alikes), frogs, salamanders, and toads doing well or poorly reveal environments respectively:

  • In balance;
  • Off kilter.

Few or no amphibians exist in air-, land-, water-polluted venues. Contamination and disease indeed hit amphibians hard. What with amphibians consequently dying worldwide, it is reassuring to discover Kauffeld frogs populating the eight-state, 485-mile (780.53-kilometer) I-95 corridor from Connecticut through North Carolina. The discovery reveals:

  • Importance of government protection, scientific research, and wildlife-loving activism;
  • Kauffeld frog resistance to the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis;
  • Significance of such environmental education-friendly volunteer networks as Master Gardener, Master Naturalist, and North American Amphibian Monitoring programs.

 

Crossing a bridge to discover a new species of true frogs: view across Verrazano Narrows Bridge toward Staten Island, ostensibly counter-intuitive discovery locale of Rana kauffeldi by Jeremy Feinberg.

Rana kauffeldi is first new amphibian species discovered in New York or New England since 1882.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Snyder
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Snyder

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

George Washington Bridge, on a late winter afternoon, spans Hudson River to connect I-95 traffic with Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood and Fort Lee, Bergen County, New Jersey ~

Atlantic Coast Leopard Frogs apparently favor habitats along I-95 corridor from Connecticut southward to North Carolina.
New York City
New York City

Sources Consulted

 

Baggaley, Kate. 29 October 2014. “New Frog Species Discovered in New York City.” Science News.org. Washington, D.C.: Magazine of the Society for Science & the Public. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new-frog-species-discovered-new-york-city

“Carl Kauffeld.” Mombu.com: Mombu the Reptiles Forum > Reptiles. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.mombu.com/reptiles/reptiles/t-carl-kauffeld-1717120.html

CBC. 30 October 2014. “New Leopard Frog Species Found in New York City.” Canada News. Yahoo! News Network. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: https://ca.news.yahoo.com/leopard-frog-species-found-york-161933926.html

Chamary, J.V. 31 October 2014. “New Frog Species Discovered in New York City.” Forbes.com: Innovation & Science. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jvchamary/2014/10/31/new-frog-new-york/

Dörfler, Ignaz. 1907. Botaniker-Porträts. Wien (Vienna), Austria: I. Dörfler.

Edmonds, Devin. 13 June 2005. “Leopard Frogs (Rana pipiens and R. utricularia).” Amphibian Care: Caresheets. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.amphibiancare.com/frogs/caresheets/leopardfrog.html

Elliott, Lang; Gerhardt, Carl; and Davidson, Carlos. 2009. The Frogs and Toads of North America: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Identification, Behavior, and Calls. Boston, MA; and New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Feinberg, J.A.; Newman, C.E.; Watkins-Colwell, G.J.; Schlesinger, M.D.; Zarate, B.; Curry, B.R.; Shaffer, H.Bradley; Burger, J. 2014. "Cryptic Diversity in Metropolis: Confirmation of a New Leopard Frog Species (Anura: Ranidae) from New York City and Surrounding Atlantic Coast Regions." PLoS ONE 9(10):e108213. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108213

Gidman, Jenn. 30 October 2014. “New Frog Species Has Croak Unlike Any Other.” Newser.com: Science. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.newser.com/story/197969/scientists-hit-jackpot-with-new-cryptic-species-of-frog.html

Griggs, Brandon. 31 October 2014. “New Species of Frog Found in … NYC.” News 4 Jax.com: News > U.S./World News. Jacksonville, FL: WJXT. CNN.com: U.S. Edition. Atlanta, GA: Cable News Network, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved November 4, 2014. Available at:

  • http://myfox8.com/2014/10/31/new-frog-species-found-habitat-stretches-to-nc/
  • http://www.news4jax.com/news/us-world-news/new-species-of-frog-found-in-nyc/29459012
  • http://pix11.com/2014/10/31/new-species-of-frog-discovered-on-staten-island/
  • http://www.wgal.com/national/new-species-of-frog-found-in-nyc/29459012

Keim, Brandon. 29 October 2014. "Big City, Big Surprise: New York City's Newest Species Is a Frog." National Geographic (USA): News > Animals. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141029-frog-species-new-york-city/

Keown, Gerald. 10 July 2008. “In Memory of Carl Kauffled.” Southwestern Center for Herpetological Research: SWCHR Forums. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://southwesternherp.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1215719054

Lally, Robin. 29 October 2014. “New Frog Discovered Inhabiting I-95 Corridor from Connecticut to North Carolina.” EurekAlert!.org: Public Releases. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-10/ru-nfd102714.php

"Leopard Frog." Frog World.net. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://frogworld.net/leopard-frog/

Netburn, Deborah. 29 October 2014. "New Species of Frog Found in New York City -- First Time Since 1882." LA Times.com: Science > Science Now. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-new-york-city-frog-20141029-story.html

Newman, Catherine E.; Feinberg, Jeremy A.; Rissler, Leslie J.; Burger, Joanna; Shaffer, H. Bradley. 2 May 2012. “A New Species of Leopard Frog (Anura: Ranidae) from the Urban Northeastern US.” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 63(2):445-455.

Nuwer, Rachel. 29 October 2014. "New Leopard Frog Found in New York City." Smithsonian.com: Science > Nature. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/new-leopard-frog-found-new-york-city-180953182/?no-ist

otr2009. 31 October 2014. "New Leopard Frog Species Found in New York City." On the River. Blog by Martine Riviere. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://ontheriver09.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/new-leopard-frog-species-found-in-new-york-city/

Rafinesque-Schmaltz, C.S. 1814. Précis des Découvertes et Travaux Somiologiques. Palermo, Sicily: Royale Typographique Militaire.

  • Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library at: http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/27701#page/9/mode/1up

Rafinesque-Schmaltz, C.S. 1814. Principes Fondamentaux de Somiologie. Palermo, Sicily.

Rafinesque-Schmaltz, C.S. 1814. Specchio delle Scienze. Palermo, Sicily.

Smith, Brett. 30 October 2014. “New Species of Leopard Frog Confirmed in New York City.” redOrbit.com: News > Science. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113268973/leopard-frog-in-new-york-rana-kauffeldi-103014/

Spotts, Pete. 30 October 2014. "New Leopard Frog Species Calls New Jersey's I-95 Corridor Home (+ Video)." The Christian Science Monitor: Science. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2014/1030/New-leopard-frog-species-calls-New-Jersey-s-I-95-corridor-home-video

Stockton, Nick. 29 October 2014. “New Species of Frog Discovered in New York City.” WIRED.com: Science. Boone, IA: WIRED Magazine; and New York, NY: Condé Nast. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/new-species-frog-discovered-new-york-city/

Turley, Jonathan. 15 March 2012. “Frogetaboutit: New Species of Frog Discovered in the Big Apple.” Jonathan Turley.org. Retrieved Novmeber 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://jonathanturley.org/2012/03/15/frogetaboutit-new-species-of-frog-discovered-in-the-big-apple/

Turley, Jonathan. 30 October 2014. “Meet Rana Kauffeldi: The New Frog Species Named After the Man Who First Found It 80 Years Ago.” Jonathan Turley.org. Retrieved November 4, 2014.

  • Available at: http://jonathanturley.org/2014/10/30/meet-rana-kauffeldi-the-new-frog-species-named-after-the-man-who-first-found-it-80-years-ago/

 

 

Jeremy Feinberg's new species of frog was found in illustrious company: in the area of the Statue of Liberty and the Staten Island Zoo.

upper left photo cropped from Figure 2 quartet (J. Feinberg et al., "Cryptic Discovery in Metropolis")
upper left photo cropped from Figure 2 quartet (J. Feinberg et al., "Cryptic Discovery in Metropolis")
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

The Frogs and Toads of North America: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Identification, Behavior, and Calls by Lang Elliott, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson ~

First to show all of the frogs of North America. Photo-filled and comprehensive. 70-minute audio compact disc includes the calls of nearly every species.
frog-themed books

Frog and Princess Love: black t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

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Ardea Wildlife Pets jigsaw puzzle ~ Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Arizona: photo by John Cancalosi

10x14 Photo Puzzle with 252 pieces. Packed in black cardboard box 5 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 1/5. Puzzle image 5x7 affixed to box top.
Photo Jigsaw Puzzle - Ardea Wildlife Pets

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 11/04/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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