New Species of Leopard Frog Identified

New Frog Species Discovered Inhabiting 1-95 Corridor from Connecticut to North Carolina

The Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog, Rana kauffeldi

Jeremy Feinberg describes a new cryptic species of leopard frog from the New York City metropolitan area and surrounding coastal regions.  This species is morphologically similar to two other species, those being the Southern Leopard Frog, Rana sphenocephala and Northern Leopard Frog, Rana pipiens.  Feinberg primarily used bioacoustic and molecular data to characterize the new species, but also examined other lines of evidence.

This discovery is unexpected in one of the largest and most densely populated urban parts of the world.  It also demonstrates that new vertebrate species can still be found periodically even in well-studied locales rarely associated with undocumented biodiversity.  The new species typically occurs in expansive open-canopied wetlands interspersed with upland patches, but centuries of loss and impact to these habitats give some cause for conservation concern.  Other concerns include regional extirpations, fragmented extant populations, and a restricted overall geographic distribution.

Feinberg assigned a type locality within New York City and report a narrow and largely coastal lowland distribution from central Connecticut to northern New Jersey (based on genetic data) and south to North Carolina (based on call data).