Help Determine the Range of a New Frog Species

March 12, 2015
Matthew Schlesinger, Ph.D. Chief Zoologist, New York Natural Heritage Program


Help Determine the Range of a New Frog Species



Got a smartphone? Over the next two weeks, you can help scientists determine the range of a new species of frog.

The Atlantic Coast leopard frog (Rana kauffeldi), aka the coughing frog, was officially recognized as its own species last fall. These little amphibians had previously been lumped in with two other kinds of leopard frogs, but notably stand out thanks to their “cough” call instead of the usual “croak.” Scientists are now working to provide digital “vouchers” of where the coughing frog lives to help determine its conservation status. That’s where you come in.

The coughing frog’s known range spans from Connecticut to the Carolinas—but it could be farther. Researchers are asking East Coasters to go out to open woodlands, flooded fields, and freshwater marshes to listen for and record potential coughing frog calls. (You can find examples of their “coughs” and “chucks” here and here.) These guys have been spotted in rural and developed areas alike, so everyone is encouraged to participate—just head outside with your smartphone (most have digital recorders built in) and record what you hear. The species calls at the same time as wood frogs (aka quaking frogs) and should be calling over the next two weeks—a very short time period.

Send your digital recordings to Matt Schlesinger: [email protected].


Matt Schlesinger notes the following, that will help with some of your questions:

1)      The calling window in the southern portion of their range (northern NC) has begun, and may last just 2-3 weeks. However, it has not yet begun farther north and will last well into April at northern latitudes (NY, CT).
2)      When you make a recording, please note your location (lat/longs or UTMs are ideal, but a dot on a map works), as well as date and time. Better yet, fill out the official project datasheet, which helps us keep track of where we’re NOT hearing frogs (equally useful data).
3)      Keep track of the time you spend and your mileage! You can help us meet our 1:1 matching requirement for the project’s funding.
4)      And THANK YOU!