Spring Peeper

Pseudacris crucifer

Physical Description

A small hylid averaging 1.8-3.3 cm (0.7-1.3 in) SVL. Body color varies slightly, usually being a shade of brown, gray, or pink[1]. The most distinctive diagnostic feature of adult and juvenile Spring Peepers is a dark “X” that crosses the frogs dorsal surface, from which the animal gets it's name (crucifer meaning "cross" in Greek). Adults exhibit slight sexual dimorphism: males have an olive-colored vocal sac and are slightly smaller than females.[2] The frog's hind feet are slightly webbed, and like most hylids, Spring Peepers have flattened, terminal toe pads used for climbing.

Vocalization

The advertisement call of male Spring Peepers is best described as a high-pitched, piercing "peep"[1]. Calls are amplified by a single, large vocal sac. When disputes over territory occur, males will emit a short (1-2 seconds), higher pitched trill that gradually increases in intensity. Breeding choruses of Spring Peepers are extremely loud and can be heard over great distances.

Habitat

Breeding habitat

Despite being extremely abundant at some breeding sites, Spring Peepers are oftentimes difficult to locate due to their small size. Adult Spring Peepers are thought of as habitat generalists and will breed in an array of shallow freshwater wetlands, including vernal pools, small ponds, flooded fields, roadside ditches and ornamental ponds.

Non-breeding habitat

Spring Peepers are primarily associated with moist deciduous forests, but can also be abundant in fragmented or otherwise disturbed upland habitats. Males can oftentimes be heard calling in these forest patches randomly in late summer and fall.

Geographic Distribution

Throughout eastern United States and Canada, from Canadian Maritime Forests to northern Florida[3].

Reproduction and Juvenile Growth

One of the first species to breed each year, Spring Peepers migrate to breeding ponds on rainy nights in late winter, early spring; occasionally emerging before the ice has completely thawed. Spring Peepers are prolonged breeders, with choruses oftentimes lasting through May, though calling ceases on unusually cold nights[1]. Maturity is reached 2 years after metamorphosis in both sexes[2] Adult males arrive first to the wetlands and call perched on vegetation within the pond or on the margin of the pond. Females begin arriving shortly thereafter and after finding a suitable mate amplexed pairs move to shallow portions of the pond, where females deposit eggs singly or in small clumps on submerged vegetation. Clutch size ranges from 300-1,000, largely dependent on female body size. Eggs hatch in 5-15 days, depending on water temperature, and tadpoles metamorphose in 60-90 days.

Diet

Spring Peepers prey on small arthropods, including arachnids, carabid beetles, and ants.

Etymology

Pseudacris: (Greek) – pseudes meaning "false" and akris meaning "locust"

crucifer: (Greek) – crucis which means "cross", in reference to the frog’s dorsal pattern

References

  1. White, JF, and AW White. 2007. Amphibians and Reptiles of Delmarva. Tidewater Publishers, Centerville, MD.
  2. Lykens, D. V. and D. C. Forester. 1987. Age structure in the spring peeper: Do males advertise longevity? Herpetologica 43: 216-223.
  3. Conant, R. and J. T. Collins. Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

Classification

www.HerpWiki.com
Log In