Acris blanchardi is a small (1.6-3.8 cm), moist-skinned hylid frog. Hind limbs are long relative to the body. The dorsal surface is warty while ventral skin is granular. Dorsal coloration is variable but typically gray or brown. Pattern can be variable but most individuals have a dark triangle, pointed posteriorly, on the head, between the eyes. Many individuals possess a tan, brown, red, or green medial stripe. The upper jaw has a series of vertical, dark bars. Most individuals possess a ragged, dark stripe on the thigh. The subgular vocal sac becomes darker, occasionally tinged with yellow, during the breeding season. Hind toes are extensively webbed with poorly-developed toe pads (Collins 1993; Conant and Collins 1991; Trauth et al. 2004; Vogt 1981).
Tadpoles are elongate with narrow caudal fins. Eyes are positioned laterally. Acris blanchardi tadpoles typically possess a distinctive black tail-tip, which is thought to direct predators, such as dragonfly larvae, away from the body. The black tail tip is not present in all populations and tadpoles developing in streams with fish tend to have light tail tips (Caldwell 1982; Vogt 1981).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Canada, Mexico, United States
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia
Canadian province distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Ontario
Blanchard’s cricket frog (A. blanchardi) is widely distributed north of the Ohio River and, in the southern U.S., west of the Mississippi River. Several populations in western Mississippi and one population in northern Kentucky appear on the southeastern side of this tentative boundary. Acris blanchardi occurs in the following U.S. states: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin (Conant and Collins 1991; Gamble et al. 2008).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Males call from February to July in Texas (Wright and Wright, 1949), late April to mid-July in Missouri and Kansas (Collins 1993; Johnson 2000), from late May through July in Wisconsin (Vogt 1981). The call is a metallic “gick, gick, gick” and sounds like two stones being struck together (Trauth et al. 2004). Male frogs will often call during the day.
Acris blanchardi is typically the most abundant frog throughout its range although populations are declining across the northern and western portions of their range (see Trends and Threats).
Trends and Threats
Acris blanchardi has declined dramatically in the northern and western part of its range (Baker 1997; Gray and Brown 2005; Hammerson and Livo 1999; Hay 1998; Lannoo 1998; Lehtinen and Skinner 2006). This phenomenon ﬁrst came to light in the 1970s, and has continued to the present (Hay 1998; Lehtinen, 2002; Vogt, 1981). Possible causes for decline include climate change (Hay 1998; Irwin 2005), habitat alteration (Lannoo 1998), pollution (Reeder et al. 2005), and habitat fragmentation (Hay 1998).
Relation to Humans
Blanchard's Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi) is named in honor of herpetologist Frank Nelson Blanchard (1888-1937; Harper 1947).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Long-distance pesticides, toxins, and pollutants
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.
Acris blanchardi was formerly considered a subspecies of Acris crepitans. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear genes suggest that A. blanchardi is a distinct species (Gamble et al. 2008). The subspecies Acris crepitans paludicola, which occupies a limited area along the Gulf Coast from Houston, Texas to central Louisiana, is phylogenetically allied with A. blanchardi but its distinct behavior and coloration may still warrant separate taxonomic status (Rose et al. 2006).
To hear a call for this species, click on the Fonozoo link at the top of this page.
Baker, R. J. (1997). ''Revising Minnesota's list of endangered and threatened species: amphibians and reptiles.'' Amphibians and Reptiles, Their Conservation and Status: Proceedings of a Symposium. J. J. Moriarty and D. Jones, eds., Serpent's Tale, Lanesboro.
Caldwell, J. P. (1982). ''Disruptive selection: a tail color polymorphism in Acris tadpoles in response to differential predation.'' Canadian Journal of Zoology, 60, 2818-2827.
Collins, J. T. (1993). Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas: Third Edition, revised. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Lawrence.
Conant, R. and Collins, J. T. (1991). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
Gamble, T., Berendzen, P. B., Shaffer, H. B., Starkey, D. E., and Simons, A. M. (2008). ''Species limits and phylogeography of North American cricket frogs (Acris: Hylidae).'' Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 48, 112-125.
Gray, R. H., and Brown, L. E. (2005). ''Decline of Northern Cricket Frogs (Acris crepitans).'' Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. M. J. Lannoo, eds., University of California Press, Berkeley.
Hammerson, G. A., and Livo, L. J. (1999). ''Conservation status of the Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) in Colorado and adjacent areas at the northwestern extent of the range.'' Herpetological Review, 30, 78-80.
Harper, F. (1947). ''A new cricket frog (Acris) from the middle western states.'' Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 60, 39-40.
Hay, R. (1998). ''Blanchard's cricket frogs in Wisconsin: a status report.'' Status and Conservation of Midwestern Amphibians. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City.
Irwin, J. T. (2005). ''Overwintering in Northern Cricket Frogs (Acris crepitans).'' Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, Berkeley.
Johnson, T.R. (2000). Amphibians and Reptiles of Missouri: 2nd Edition. Conservation Commission of Missouri, Jefferson City.
Lannoo, M. J. (1998). ''Amphibian conservation and wetland management in the upper Midwest: a catch-22 for the cricket frog?'' Status and Conservation of Midwestern Amphibians M. J. Lannoo, eds., University of Iowa Press, Iowa City.
Reeder, A. L., Ruiz, M. O., Pessier, A., Brown, L. E., Levengood, J. M., Phillips, C. A., Wheeler, M. B., Warner, R. E., and Beasley, V. R. (2005). ''Intersexuality and the cricket frog decline: historic and geographic trends.'' Environmental Health Perspectives, 113, 261-265.
Rose, F. L., Simpson, T. R., Forstner, M. R. J., McHenry, D. J., and Williams, J. (2006). ''Taxonomic status of Acris gryllus paludicola: in search of the pink frog.'' Journal of Herpetology, 40, 428.
Trauth, S. E., Robison, H. W., and Plummer, M. V. (2004). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Wright, A. H. and Wright, A. A. (1949). Handbook of Frogs and Toads of the United States and Canada. Comstock Publishing Company, Inc., Ithaca, New York.
Written by Tony Gamble (gambl007 AT umn.edu), University of Minnesota
First submitted 2008-07-13
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2011-03-03)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2011 Acris blanchardi: Blanchard's Cricket Frog <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/7142> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 27, 2017.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 27 Mar 2017.
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