Investigation of Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) Overwintering Ecological Requirements


Kris Kendell


In the province of Alberta, the Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) is designated as a Threatened Species (Wildlife Act, Alberta Environmental Protection, 1996). As a result, the Northern Leopard Frog merits special management consideration regarding existing populations as well as habitats in which they occur. Once a common and widespread species throughout much of Canada, leopard frog populations vanished or declined from much of their historic western range. 

In the spring of 1998 a management project was proposed to repatriate the Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) into currently vacant areas of its historic range. The primary objective of the project was to establish breeding populations of Northern Leopard Frogs in formally occupied habitats in the headwaters of the upper Red Deer and North Saskatchewan River drainage basins. 

Data collected in this study will help to improve the understanding of the key habitat elements that are necessary to the survival and growth of leopard frog populations. In particular, essential winter habitat and water quality parameters. Over time, this information can be integrated with known breeding and summering habitat requirements to establish an 'ideal' habitat suitability prescription for the Northern Leopard Frog in Alberta. This information will help ensure that potential negative impacts related to changes in the water management are avoided, and to allow current and future NAWMP projects to be designed and managed to include optimum benefits for this threatened species. 

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