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Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)
Northern cricket frog (Acris crepitans), an endangered species in Wisconsin, prefer ponds, lakes, and a variety of habitats along and adjacent to streams and rivers including, marshes, fens, sedge meadows, low prairies, and exposed mud flats. The species tends to breed in quite water (no or low flow) and may also move from streams and rivers to adjacent wetlands and ponds. Cricket frogs cannot tolerate freezing or complete inundation for more than 24 hours during the winter and seek a variety of microhabitats that provide suitable overwintering conditions, including crayfish burrows, small mammal burrows, rotted-out root channels, seepage areas where groundwater flow prevents freezing at the surface or spaces created by sloughing streambanks. Cricket frogs are active from late-March through November. Breeding occurs from mid-May through mid-August, with some larvae not transforming until late September. See the species guidance document for avoidance measures and management guidance from the Natural Heritage Conservation Program.
Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin
The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.
|Federal Status in Wisconsin||none|
|Tracked by NHI||Y|
This document contains identification and life history information for Northern Cricket Frog. It also describes how to screen projects for potential impact to this species, lists avoidance measures, and provides general management guidance.
Links to additional Northern Cricket Frog information
Other links related to amphibians
- Wisconsin Amphibian and Reptile Regulations
- A Field Guide to Amphibian Larvae and Eggs of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa
- PARC (Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation)
- NAAMP (North American Amphibian Monitoring Program)
- Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey
- Wisconsin's Amphibians and Reptiles (PUB ER-110 2009)
Wildlife Action Plan
Information from Wisconsin's Wildlife Action Plan.
Native community (habitat) associations
The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Northern Cricket Frog. Only natural communities for which Northern Cricket Frog is "significantly" (score=3) or "moderately" (score=2) associated are shown. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.
|Southern Sedge Meadow||3|
Ecological landscape associations
The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Northern Cricket Frog. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.
Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*
Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.
* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.
- Continued research on grazing and impacts of other farming practices is needed to achieve more ecologically sound farming practices.
- Education and outreach efforts, focused on landowners and farmers living where the frogs occur, are needed to improve the long-term sustainability of populations.
- Implement streambank protection programs to restore and insure long-term maintenance of bank buffers.
- Long term monitoring is needed to evaluate population status and track trends of representative populations. The annual frog and toad survey is not sufficient.
- Preserve habitat for known populations through long term land protection.
- Reintroductions may be appropriate following habitat restoration or creation.
- Research is needed to better understand specific life history parameters, such as identifying the microhabitats used for overwintering, to determine how metapopulation dynamics may be influencing the distribution and status of this species in Wisconsin, a
- Wildlife habitat in general is poorly represented in zoning and planning, and major strides are needed in policy and education here. This is especially important for this short-lived species, which may need functional landscape connectivity intact to pre
- Work with Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and other landowner incentive programs to restore and create wetlands (ponds) along occupied stream corridors to increase breeding habitat.
Threats and issues
- Research is ongoing to determine the potential impacts of climate on the decline of cricket frogs at the northern fringe of their range. Most experts feel the decline is at least partially attributable to harsh winters (extreme cold and little snow fall) from the 1950's through the mid-1980's, coupled with land use changes that prevent recolonization of ponds and normal metapopulation interactions.
- Agricultural run-off causing turbidity, eutrophication and sedimentation degrades habitat for this species.
- Natural succession to a more closed canopy forest appears to reduce or eliminate this species.
- Shoreline development degrades or eliminates habitat for this species.
- Moderate to intensive grazing can cause extensive shoreline disturbance and impact turbidity.
- Alterations of aquatic habitats may favor increasing pathogen (trematodes) vectors such as snails, resulting in an increased incidence of malformations, potentially affecting recruitment rates.
- Possible bullfrog predation in areas where it has been introduced or has invaded.
- Cricket frogs, being generally restricted to aquatic habitats, may be especially sensitive to pollutants entering the water. Runoff of pesticides, like atrazine, may threaten frogs directly by killing eggs, larvae, or adults. Indirect effects of pesticides may include alterations in behavior (frogs are less able to escape predators) and changes in the food base (invertebrates are killed by pesticides). Contaminants may also alter sex ratios of amphibians, resulting in reduced reproductive success.
- Poor water quality in general (e.g., low dissolved oxygen) may be a limiting factor for cricket frogs, which seem to be especially sensitive to this.
- Water quality and disease factors are thought to be causing malformations, and may be affecting reproductive success.
- A variety of pollution problems may be factors, including mercury, acid rain, salt, and nutrient loading (especially nitrates).
- A short life span and limited dispersal capablity may make this species more vulnerable to local extinctions.