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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Cascades Frog - Rana cascadae

Slater, 1939
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Cascades Frog California Range Map
Historic Range in California: Red


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Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County Adult in creek, Siskiyou County
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Adult, Siskiyou County Adult under water, Siskiyou County Adult in pond, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County
Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County
Adult underside
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, Siskiyou County Adult in habitat, Siskiyou County
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog    
Adult, Siskiyou County Adult, found near Bear Creek east of Mt. Shasta in the southeastern corner of Siskiyou County. © Dave Biggs

   
Juveniles
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Juvenile, Siskiyou County Juvenile, Siskiyou County Juvenile, Siskiyou County Juvenile, Siskiyou County
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Juvenile, Siskiyou County Juvenile, Siskiyou County Juvenile, Siskiyou County Juvenile, Siskiyou County
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog    
Juvenile, Siskiyou County

Juvenile, King County, Washington    
Breeding, Eggs and Tadpoles
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Male and female in amplexus,
Kittitas County, Washington
Male and female in amplexus,
Kittitas County, Washington
A very cold-tolerant male frog next to melting snow in the breeding season, Kittitas County, Washington Calling male, Pierce County, Washington
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Adults in amplexus, Trinity County (captured and handled under state Scientific Collecting Permit and released at point of capture.) © Adam Clause Egg mass, 4,000 ft.,
Clackamas County, Oregon
Tadpoles, 6,400 ft., Siskiyou County Tadpole, King County, Washington

More pictures of eggs, tadpoles, and breeding habitat can be viewed here.


Habitat
Cascades Frog Habitat Cascades Frog Habitat Cascades Frog Habitat Cascades Frog Habitat
Habitat, 6,300 ft. Siskiyou County Habitat, 5,700 ft. Siskiyou County Habitat, 5,700 ft. Siskiyou County Habitat, 6,100 ft. Siskiyou County
Cascades Frog Habitat Cascades Frog Habitat Cascades Frog Habitat Cascades Frog Habitat
Habitat, 5,700 ft. Siskiyou County Habitat, 5,700 ft. Siskiyou County Habitat, 5,700 ft. Siskiyou County Habitat, 5,000 ft. Tehama County
Cascades Frog Habitat Cascades Frog Habitat Cascades Frog Habitat Cascades Frog Habitat
The population of Cascades frogs on Mt. Lassen has declined dramatically to the point where they may now be extinct. They were once so abundant at 8100 ft. Emerald Lake (left) that herpetologist Joseph Grinnell reported in the 1920s that there was one frog per yard around the lake. They are no longer at adjacent 8200 ft. Lake Helen either (right two pictures).

Former habitat, 5,000 ft. Tehama County
Short Videos
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Cascades frogs along a creek and in ponds in Siskiyou County. Lots of Cascades frogs filmed as they were encountered one summer morning along a creek in the mountains of Siskiyou County. Views of several Cascades frogs in their habitat, a creek in the mountains of Siskiyou County. A look at a Casacdes Frog breeding pond high in the Washington Cascades, including the pond surrounded by melting snow, male frogs in calling position, two calling males, and two episodes of male frogs attempting to mount other males with sounds of protest.
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog Cascades Frog
Several adult male frogs make calling sounds in the Washington Cascade Mountains. An adult male frog floats on the breeding pond, trading calls with two other frogs heard in the background. Male frogs chase each other around in the breeding pond, chattering and clucking. The bottom frog of this pair in amplexus (probably a female) makes a few release calls as it tries to shake off the male on its back.
Cascades Frog Cascades Frog eggs    
A male frog discovers another frog (probably a female that has already laid eggs) grabs on to her, and is carried around the pond as she tries to shake him off. Views of some of the many egg masses in a breeding pond in the Washinton Cascades Mountains.    

More pictures of this frog and its habitat are available on our Northwest Herps page.

Description

Size
Adults are 1 3/4 - 3 inches long from snout to vent (4.4 - 7.5 cm). Females get up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) males up to 2 1/4 inches (5.8 cm.)
Appearance
Brown, copper, tan, to olive green above, yellowish below and on the back of the legs. Black spots with distinctly-marked
edges are usually present on the back. Sides are cream, and there is dark mottling on the groin. A dark face mask is present
with a light upper jaw stripe extending to the shoulder. Dorsolateral folds. Eyes are oriented outward. Hind feet with reduced webbing.
Voice  (Listen)
A faint series of low grating clucking noises. Calls at night and also during the day from above and under water.
Behavior
Diurnal. Typically found near water at higher elevations, rarely below 2,000 ft.. Hibernates during winter, typically buried in mud. When frightened, a frog typically hops into water and swims away to escape, usually to the opposite shore or to the bottom where it goes head first into silt and mud. Often sluggish. Adults are not territorial, but males behave aggressively towards other males during the breeding season. Probably lives 5 - 7 years.
Diet
Diet is not well known, but probably consists of a wide variety of invertebrates. Prey is located by vision, then a large sticky tongue is used to catch the prey and bring it into the mouth to eat.
Reproduction and Young
Reproduction is aquatic. Fertilization is external. Cascades frogs overwinter near the breeding ponds, becoming active as the ice thaws. Breeding begins soon after the snow begins to melt, from March to mid August depending on the location. Breeding takes place in temporary and permanent bodies of water generally lacking fish, with silt or mud substrates, often smaller bodies of water near larger lakes. Breeding is explosive, lasting only about a week or less at a location. Adults return to the same locatiion each year to breed.
Adults are reproductively mature at 2 - 3 years. Females breed only once per year. Males sit in shallow water and make a faint advertisement call to attract females.

Eggs are laid in a mass the size of an orange or small grapefruit containing 300 -800 eggs which is not attached to vegetation, but partly submerged in shallow water. Egg clusters are often laid in aggregations. Eggs are black above, and white below, and are widely spaced in the gelatinous mass.

Tadpoles are speckled with dark spots. To 2 1/8 inches long (5.5 cm.) and group together in large aggregations. Tadpoles transform in about 2 months after hatching from the eggs. There is no doucmented evidence that tadpoles overwinter, but it is possible.
Range
Historically, this frog was found in fragmented populations in extreme northern California, from the edge of the northern Sierra Nevada mountains to Mt. Lassen, Mt. Shasta, the Marble Mountains, and the Trinity Alps. It is now missing from an estimated 50 percent of its former range in California, and most of its former southernmost locations, including Mt. Lassen.
Beyond California it ranges throughout the Cascades Mountains of Oregon and Washington, in the Olympic Mountains, and barely into British Columbia, Canada.
Habitat
Inhabits wet mountain areas in open coniferous forests to near timberline, including small streams, small pools in meadows, lakes, bogs, ponds, and marshy areas near streams. Typically found in water with no predatory fishes.
From 755 ft.(in Washington) to around 9,000 ft. (230 - 2740 m).
Taxonomic Notes
Considered a subspecies of Rana pretiosa before 1939. No subspecies are currently recognized. Frogs in California are isolated from the main Cascades populations.

Jennings and Hayes, who have extensively surveyed California's frogs, suggested in 1994 that California Cascades Frogs should be investigated for cryptic taxa.

R. cascadae
in the Lassen region are likely distinct from those in the Siskiyou-Klamath region:

Fellers et. al. (*2007) note that Monsen and Blouin (**2003) in a range-wide evaluation of the genetic diversity of Rana cascadae suggested that California R. cascadae are sufficiently distinct from populations in Oregon and Washington to warrant designation as a Distinct Population Segment and that Case (***2003) found evidence that R. cascadae in the Lassen region vary from those in the Klamath-Siskiyou region. They recommend that "a more detailed genetic evaluation [of] R. cascadae in California and southern Oregon is needed to determine the boundaries of genetic differentiation."
Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Although it is still common and apparently in no trouble in Oregon and Washington, the Cascades Frog is no longer present in approximately 50 percent of its historical range in California, and has disappeared from as much as 99 percent of their southernmost California populations, including Mt. Lassen, where they were once abundant. Numbers are small in extant populations.
Introduced sport fish, solar UV-B radiation, contaminants such as airborne environmental pollution and fungal pathogens, and loss of open meadow habitat due to fire suppression, have all been suggested as factors contributing to the decline of Cascade Frogs in California.

Taxonomy
Family Ranidae True Frogs Rafinesque, 1814
Genus Rana True Frogs Linnaeus, 1758
Species cascadae Cascades Frog

Slater, 1939
Original Description
Slater, 1939 - Herpetologica, Vol. 1, p. 145

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name

Rana - Frog - "Rana" probably mimics how the Romans heard their call.
cascadae -
of the Cascade Mountains, WA - "named from the region in which it was 1st found"

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Alternate Names
Cascade Frog
Related or Similar California Frogs
LIthobates yavapaiensis
LIthobates catesbeiana
Rana draytonii
Rana boylii
Rana aurora
Rana pretiosa
Lithobates pipiens

More Information and References
Natureserve Explorer

California Dept. of Fish and Game

AmphibiaWeb

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Corkran, Charlotte & Chris Thoms. Amphibians of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Lone Pine Publishing, 1996.

Jones, Lawrence L. C. , William P. Leonard, Deanna H. Olson, editors. Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Audubon Society, 2005.

Leonard et. al. Amphibians of Washington and Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society, 1993.

Nussbaum, R. A., E. D. Brodie Jr., and R. M. Storm. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. Moscow, Idaho: University Press of Idaho, 1983.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Elliott, Lang, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson. Frogs and Toads of North America, a Comprehensive Guide to their Identification, Behavior, and Calls. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.

Lannoo, Michael (Editor). Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, June 2005.

Wright, Anna. Handbook of Frogs and Toads of the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press, 1949.

Davidson, Carlos. Booklet to the CD Frog and Toad Calls of the Pacific Coast - Vanishing Voices. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, 1995.

* Fellers, Gary M., Karen L. Pope, Jonathan E. Stead, Michelle S. Koo, and Hartwell H. Welsh, Jr. Turning Population Trend Monitoring into Active Conservation: Can We Save the Cascades Frog (Rana cascadae) in the Lassen Region of California?  Herpetological Conservation and Biology 3(1):28-39. Submitted: 30 May 2007; Accepted: 19 October 2007.

**Monsen, K.J., and Blouin, M.S. Genetic structure in a montane ranid frog: Restricted gene flow and nuclear-mitochondrial discordance. Molecular Ecology 12:3275-3286. 2003.

***Case, S.M. Biochemical systematics of members of the genus Rana native to western North America. Systematic Zoology 27:299-311. 1978.

 



Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.



Organization
Status Listing
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife DFG:SSC California Species of Special Concern
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service USFS:S Sensitive
 

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