The largest and most rotund of the chorus frogs (3) (4), Strecker’s chorus frog (Pseudacris streckeri) is a stout, toad-like amphibian (3) (4) (5) with powerful front limbs (2) (3) (5) (6) that are used for digging (2) (6). This species is named for John K Strecker, a Texan naturalist and museum curator (2) (4).
Strecker’s chorus frog is highly variable in colour (4), ranging from grey (2) (3) (4) (5) or tan (5) to brown, olive or green (3) (4) (7), and is typically patterned with dark brown to black markings on its back (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7). These markings are sometimes more distinct along the sides of the back, and blotches may connect to form stripes (2). A conspicuous dark, mask-like stripe runs from the Strecker’s chorus frog’s snout (2) (3) (4) (5) through the eye (3) (6) (7) and down to the shoulder (2) (3) (4) (5), while a dark spot can often be seen under each eye (3) (4) (5) (7). In addition, Strecker’s chorus frog has a V- or Y-shaped mark between the eyes (5).
Strecker’s chorus frog has a white belly (2) (3) (5) and noticeable yellow, orange-yellow (3) (6) or greenish colouration on the groin (2). Males of this species are slightly smaller than females and have greenish-yellow vocal sacs (2) which darken during the breeding season (2) (3) (5). Strecker’s chorus frog has rough or granular skin (5) (6), poorly webbed hind feed (6) and lacks toe pads (5).
Interestingly, the Illinois chorus frog (Pseudacris streckeri illinoensis), a subspecies of Strecker’s chorus frog (4) (5), is never green in colour (3) (6) and typically has poorly developed markings and lacks yellow pigment in the groin (4) (6). Strecker’s chorus frog tadpoles are brownish grey with a clear tail fin speckled with dark flecks (2).
The call of Strecker’s chorus frog has been described as being clear and bell-like (2) (4), and consists of a single, quickly repeated note (4). The clear, high-pitched whistles of the breeding call (5) may be preceded by a few short, hoarse chips (2).
- Hyla streckeri, Pseudacris occidentalis.
- Male length: 25 - 41 mm (2)
- Female length: 32 - 46 mm (2)
Strecker's chorus frog biology
Strecker’s chorus frog is a burrowing frog (1) which, unusually, uses its stout forelimbs to dig rather than its back legs (1) (3) (5) and enters the burrow headfirst (3). This species burrows into sand (5) and hides under rocks and woody debris (2) to shield itself from predators and heat (3), only emerging after heavy, early spring rains (3) (5). Following the rains, Strecker’s chorus frog migrates to breeding sites (2) including nearby ditches, ponds and flooded fields (3) (5).
Strecker’s chorus frog can be heard calling between November and May, depending on the location, with a peak calling season during January and February in the southern part of its range (4). Calling occurs both day and night, but typically does not start until daytime temperatures reach a minimum of 15 degrees Celsius. Male Strecker’s chorus frogs call as they hang onto vegetation or sit on vegetation above the water or on the bank, staying close to a breeding pool throughout the breeding season. This species requires its breeding pools to be still, clear and unpolluted and be free from fish predators (2).
Female Strecker’s chorus frogs lay their eggs below the water’s surface (2), attaching them to vegetation (2) (5). Eggs are usually laid in small, jelly-covered clusters (5) of 20 to 50 eggs, although between 2 and 250 may be laid at a time, and each female typically lays between 400 and 700 eggs in total (2). The time to hatching is dependent upon the temperature of the water (2) but is usually just a few days, with the tadpoles then taking around two months to transform (3) (5).
The diet of the adult Strecker’s chorus frog consists mostly of small insects (3) (5), but as an opportunistic feeder it will also take other small invertebrates (2). Tadpoles of this species are known to feed on algae (2).
Strecker's chorus frog range
Strecker’s chorus frog is endemic to the United States, where it occurs from south-central Kansas (2) (4) down through Texas (1) (4) to the Gulf of Mexico (2) (4). The range of this species extends eastward into central Arkansas and northwest Louisiana (2), with isolated populations occurring in west-central and south-western Illinois (1) (3), western Oklahoma (2) (3) (4) and south-eastern Missouri (1) (3). The two subspecies of Strecker’s chorus frog have different distributions within this range (3).
Strecker's chorus frog habitat
Strecker’s chorus frog can be found in a wide variety of habitats (3) (4), including moist woods, rocky ravines, along streams and swamps (1) (3) (4) and in sand prairies (1) (3) (4) (5) (7). In addition, Strecker’s chorus frog can be found in cultivated areas (1) (2) (4) (5) and pastures (2). It has been observed that the Illinois subspecies tends to show a preference for sandy substrates (3) (6).
The eggs and larvae of Strecker’s chorus frog develop in flooded fields, ditches, ponds and other temporary water bodies (1).
Strecker's chorus frog status
Strecker's chorus frog is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Strecker's chorus frog threats
Due to its wide distribution, presumed large population and tolerance of a certain level of habitat modification, Strecker’s chorus frog is not considered to be at risk of extinction. However, this species has declined in certain areas (1) (2), especially in south-eastern Missouri where extensive agriculture and housing developments have greatly reduced the available breeding habitat (1). In addition, it is thought that changing precipitation patterns could place local populations at risk as a result of drought (2), and habitat loss through drainage could place the species under more pressure (3).
The subspecies Pseudacris streckeri illinoensis is threatened in Illinois (3) where drainage and the cultivation of breeding ponds is placing this amphibian at risk of extinction (5).
Strecker’s chorus frog is classified as threatened in Illinois (3) (5) and Kansas (7). In Kansas, this species is protected by state law (2) through the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act (7). Although Strecker’s chorus frog receives some security through its occurrence in several protected areas throughout its range, further habitat protection is required in order to ensure a stable future for this species (1).
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- Simple plants that lack roots, stems and leaves but contain the green pigment chlorophyll. Most occur in marine and freshwater habitats.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
- Immature stage in an animal’s lifecycle, after it hatches from an egg and before it changes into the adult form. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but are usually unable to reproduce.
- An extensive area of flat or rolling, predominantly treeless grassland, especially the large tract or plain of central North America.
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
IUCN Red List (April, 2014)
Dodd, C.K. (2013) Frogs of the United States and Canada. Volume 1. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
AmphibiaWeb - Pseudacris streckeri (May, 2014)
Conant, R. and Collins, J.T. (1998) A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, Massachusetts.
Illinois Natural History Survey - Strecker’s chorus frog (May, 2014)
Trauth, S.E., Robison, H.W. and Plummer, M.V. (2004) The Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism - Strecker’s chorus frog (May, 2014)