Species Profile

Western Chorus Frog Great Lakes / St. Lawrence - Canadian Shield population

Scientific Name: Pseudacris triseriata
Taxonomy Group: Amphibians
Range: Ontario, Quebec
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2008
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened


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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Western Chorus Frog

Western Chorus Frog Photo 1

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Description

The Western Chorus Frog is a small frog. It measures about 2.5 cm in length weighs about 1 g. Its slightly elongated body is shaped somewhat like a small pear, and its head is narrow and pointed. It has long toes with very small toe-pads. The skin is finely granular in texture. The coloration varies from brown to grey to olive. The most striking marks on the body are the three dark lines along the back, hence the Latin name triseriata. The Western Chorus Frog also has a white line on its upper lip and a dark line from the tip of the head to the groin. Males have a vocal sac, which appears as a dark flap when relaxed and as a yellow balloon when expanded. In the spring, the distinctive croaking of the Western Chorus Frog makes it easy to detect. The call of the male resembles the sound of a fingernail being drawn along a metallic comb. This croaking call resonates; in favourable weather conditions it can be heard from almost a kilometre away. The Western Chorus Frog is a very secretive species and is rarely seen outside the breeding season.

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Distribution and Population

In Canada, the Western Chorus Frog is found in southern Ontario and southwestern Quebec. It is also present in the central and northeastern United States, from Kansas and Oklahoma to Michigan and northern New York. In southern Ontario, its range is bounded by the United States border in the south, Georgian Bay in the northwest, and south of Algonquin Park and up the Ottawa River valley to the vicinity of Eganville in the east. In Quebec, it is found in the Outaouais region (along the Ottawa River between Gatineau and Île du Grand Calumet) and in the Montérégie region (south of the St. Lawrence River, including Île Perrot, in the southwestern part of the province). There are approximately 100 locations, divided into two distinct populations: the Carolinian population (southwestern Ontario) and the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence–Canadian Shield population (other regions of Ontario and Quebec).     It is impossible at this time to give even a rough estimate of the abundance of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence–Canadian Shield population of the Western Chorus Frog in Canada. Since the 1950s, population losses of about 37% per decade have been documented in Quebec. From 1995 to 2006, population numbers at Ontario sites decreased at an estimated rate of 3.5% per year, resulting in a total decrease of 30%. In many cases where populations have declined because of changes in land use, the populations have not recovered.

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Habitat

The Western Chorus Frog is primarily a lowland terrestrial species. In marshes or wooded wetland areas, it is found on the ground or in low shrubs and grass. It is a poor climber. Like all other frogs, the Western Chorus Frog requires both terrestrial and aquatic habitats in close proximity. For breeding and tadpole development, it requires seasonally dry temporary ponds devoid of predators, particularly fish. The Western Chorus Frog is very rarely found in permanent ponds. Although it uses aquatic habitat during the breeding season, the Western Chorus Frog is a poor swimmer.   The species hibernates in its terrestrial habitat, under rocks, dead trees or leaves, or in loose soil or animal burrows, even though these sites are sometimes flooded.   Habitat destruction in suburban areas of southwestern Quebec is so rapid that populations there may be extirpated from their known habitats by 2030. Habitat loss in agricultural areas is slower, but, as was observed in southwestern Quebec between 1950 and 1990, changes that intensify agricultural practices can produce rapid and catastrophic decreases in Western Chorus Frog populations.

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Biology

Western Chorus Frogs generally live no more than a year and breed in the first spring after metamorphosis. In Canada, the Western Chorus Frog breeds mainly in April, sometimes beginning as early as the end of March, with calling sometimes continuing until mid-May. The Western Chorus Frog is among the first species to call in the spring. Females lay between 373 and 1500 eggs in small irregular masses in shallow water. The eggs adhere to submerged vegetation or sink below the surface of the water. They hatch 3 to 27 days later (depending on water temperature). It takes approximately two months for tadpoles to change into froglets, which grow very quickly and reach maturity in late summer. Tadpoles feed on algae, and froglets feed on small invertebrates, such as beetles, mites and other small arthropods. During summer and fall, Western Chorus Frogs eat a variety of small invertebrates, such as ants, spiders, slugs and snails. The Western Chorus Frog has many potential predators, including insects, leeches, salamanders, fish, snakes and birds. The high mortality rate at all life stages means that the survival of a population depends on the recruitment of new individuals each year.

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Threats

In Canada, the most serious threat to the Western Chorus Frog is habitat destruction or alteration. Most of the sites of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence–Canadian Shield population are located on land owned for future development. For urban construction or industrial agriculture, the land is drained and filled, resulting in the direct loss of many individuals, the elimination of the temporary ponds required for breeding, and significant degradation of the quality of the remaining terrestrial habitat. This process results in smaller habitat areas that are fragmented into isolated patches. The Western Chorus Frog has great difficulty adapting to habitat fragmentation and reduced habitat quality. The frogs have relatively low mobility and relatively high fidelity to their natal ponds. The population of pond-breeding frogs fluctuates greatly from year to year. This means that if a reduction in habitat quality coincides with a natural decrease in population numbers, local extinction is very likely to result.   Vehicular traffic on roads is another factor threatening the Western Chorus Frog. Roads of any size inhibit dispersal of the frogs and cause some mortality.   Chemical pollutants can pose a direct threat to the health of amphibians. Frog populations are particularly vulnerable to nutrient loading from industrial agriculture. Many breeding sites are also vulnerable to contamination by pesticides, herbicides and other pollutants.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Western Chorus Frog, Great Lakes / St. Lawrence - Canadian Shield population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata), Great Lakes/ St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield Population, in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

CWS-Quebec Species at Risk Recovery Unit

  • Unité du rétablissement des espèces en péril du SCF-QC - Chair/Contact -
    Phone: 1-855-253-6708  Send Email

Quebec Western Chorus Frog Recovery Team

  • Lyne Bouthillier - Chair/Contact - Government of Quebec
    Phone: 450-928-7608  Send Email

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

21 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment - Western Chorus Frog, Carolinian & Great Lakes/St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield Populations (2008)

    Western Chorus Frog – Carolinian population The species was considered a single unit and designated Not at Risk in May 2001. Split into two populations in April 2008. The Carolinian population was designated Not at Risk in April 2008. Western Chorus Frog – Great Lakes/St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population The species was considered a single unit and designated Not at Risk in May 2001. Split into two populations in April 2008. The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population was designated Threatened in April 2008.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Western Chorus Frog, Great Lakes / St. Lawrence - Canadian Shield population (2008)

    Ongoing losses of habitat and breeding sites for this small frog due to suburban expansion and alteration in farming practices have resulted in losses of populations and isolation of remaining habitat patches. Populations in Quebec are documented to have declined at a rate of 37% over 10 years and are expected to continue to decline. Despite there being some areas where chorus frogs remain evident, surveys of populations in Ontario indicate a significant decline in abundance of 30% over the past decade.

Recovery Strategies

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park of Canada (2016)

    Bruce Peninsula National Park (BPNP) and Fathom Five National Marine Park (FFNMP) lie at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula which separates Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. The peninsula is 90 km in length and its most prominent feature is the Niagara Escarpment which runs along the entire eastern edge. Within BPNP, the escarpment forms the Georgian Bay shoreline and is recognized as part of the core area of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.  BPNP was established by the federal government in 1987 to protect a representative example of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Lowlands natural region. Because of the fragmented nature of the park properties, many of the stresses on the park’s ecosystem originate from outside its boundaries. For this reason, First Nations, local residents, non-governmental organizations, and other groups and land users play an important role in managing, restoring, and protecting the northern Bruce ecosystem. 
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Georgian Bay Islands National Park of Canada (2016)

    Georgian Bay Islands National Park (GBINP) is located in southeastern Georgian Bay in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country. Georgian Bay is home to the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, the 30,000 Islands, and the park acts as a southern gateway into this area. Comprising 63 dispersed islands and shoals the total area of the park is 14 km2 from the Centennial Group in the south to McQuade Island 50 kilometres northward. Situated just 150 km from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), GBINP is within a half-day’s drive for millions of Canadians. Created in 1929 it is Canada’s smallest national park straddling two natural regions and forms a core protected area of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. The park lies on the edge of the Canadian Shield and is home to both northern and southern plants and animals. The islands are renowned for the variety of reptiles and amphibians they support. The park also has significant cultural value, having been occupied continuously for over 5,500 years. Maintenance and restoration of ecological integrity is the first priority of national parks (Canada National Parks Act s.8(2)). Species at risk, their residences, and their habitat are therefore protected by existing national park regulations and management regimes. In addition, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) prohibitions protecting individuals and residences apply automatically when a species is listed, and all critical habitat in national parks and national historic sites must be legally protected within 180 days of being identified.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Thousand Islands National Park of Canada (2016)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Thousand Islands National Park of Canada is a Species At Risk Act action plan (SARA s.47) for four species: American Water-willow (Justicia americana), Butternut (Juglans cinerea), Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), and Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus). The plan also outlines measures to monitor and manage 30 other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in the park. This plan applies only to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Thousand Islands National Park of Canada.

Orders

  • Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes / St. Lawrence - Canadian Shield Population) (2016)

    The Government of Canada has made an Emergency Order for the protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes / St. Lawrence - Canadian Shield Population (GLSLCS) in the Bois de la Commune in La Prairie, Quebec. The objective of the Emergency Order is to provide protection to the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) by addressing the imminent threat to its recovery, including by protecting the habitat identified in the Order to stabilize the metapopulation and help the recovery of the species.
  • Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes / St. Lawrence — Canadian Shield Population) (2016)

    This Web page has been archived on the Web. Archived Content Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the Contact Us page. The Government of Canada has made an Emergency Order for the protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes / St. Lawrence - Canadian Shield Population (GLSLCS) in the Bois de la Commune in La Prairie, Quebec. The objective of the Emergency Order is to provide protection to the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) by addressing the imminent threat to its recovery, including by protecting the habitat identified in the Order to stabilize the metapopulation and help the recovery of the species. Further to the news release the Emergency Order linked below came into force on July 8, 2016.
  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2009)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of the assessments conducted pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act [amphibians, arthropods, birds, lichens, plants and reptiles] (2010)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 - 2008 (2008)

    2008 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species (2009)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by March 20, 2009 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 19, 2010 for species undergoing extended consultations.

Residence Description

  • Description of Residence for the Western Chorus Frog – Great Lakes, St. Lawrence- Canadian Shield Population (Pseudacris triseriata) in Canada (2016)

    The following is a description of residence for the Western Chorus Frog, Great Lakes, St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population (Pseudacris triseriata, hereafter Western Chorus Frog), created for the purpose of implementing section 33 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) which relates to the damage or destruction of residences. Such damage or destruction can result from any alteration to the topography, geology, soil conditions, vegetation, chemical composition of air/water, surface or groundwater hydrology, micro-climate, or sound environment which either temporarily or permanently impairs the function(s) of the residence of one or more individuals.

Related Information

  • Imminent Threat Assessment for the Western Chorus Frog (2015)

    This document assesses the threats to the Western Chorus Frog, Great Lakes/St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population (Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS)), using the best available information, with the aim of informing an opinion as to whether or not this wildlife species faces imminent threats to its survival or recovery in Canada, as per section 80 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA).
  • Protecting the Western Chorus Frog, Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield Population (2016)

    This brochure provides information about the Western Chorus Frog, Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield (GLSLCS) population, a species at risk in Canada, as well as about the measures that Environment and Climate Change Canada is taking to protect this species. This brochure is also part of the efforts being made to help affected individuals and organizations understand the Emergency Order and the impact it will have on their activities.
  • Public Notice - Public Meetings on the Western Chorus Frog (2016)

    On July 12 and 14, 2016, Environment and Climate Change Canada will host information sessions on the Species at Risk Act Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence - Canadian Shield population). The Order is intended to address the imminent threat to the species’ recovery in the municipalities of La Prairie, Candiac and Saint-Philippe.
  • Summary – Emergency Order for the Protection of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population) (2016)

    The purpose of this Order is to address the imminent threat to the recovery of the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population (GLSLCS)) by providing protection for the La Prairie metapopulation through measures that include protection of the habitat identified in the Order.

Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette

Exceptions

  • Public Registry Notice for s.83 Exceptions - Former Camp Ipperwash (2015)

    As per the Memorandum of Understanding between DND, Environment Canada, and the Parks Canada Agency: 6.1 c) Activities occurring on Defence Establishments that are considered necessary for public safety in accordance with paragraph a) and authorized under the National Defence Act and the Explosives Act are: Remediation of contaminated sites; and Securing, handling, destruction or disposal of unsafe munitions, including unexploded explosive ordnance.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update March 31, 2017