Rana sauteri
Sauter's Brown Frog
Subgenus: Rana
family: Ranidae

AmphibiaChina 中国两栖类.

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Endangered (EN)
See IUCN account.
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


Members of the ranine brown frog complex are difficult to distinguish morphologically. Like other brown frogs, Rana sauteri has prominent dorsolateral folds, but unlike most other brown frogs, the digit tips of Rana sauteri have discs and horizontal grooves (Fei et al. 1990; Dubois 1992). Rana sauteri females are larger than males (Lai et al. 2003).

The tadpoles are specialized for life in fast-flowing streams; adaptations include having an abdominal sucker (though not as large as those of Amolops sp.), robust caudal musculature and lower fin, a depressed body, and an enlarged oral disc with increased numbers of labial teeth rows (Chou and Lin 1997). The larval body is moderately sized (about 30 mm) and highly pigmented (Matsui and Matsui 1990).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Taiwan

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
This species is endemic to western Taiwan. It can be found in lowland areas near small streams or ponds, from 100 to 500 m asl (Lai et al. 2003; Stuart et al. 2008). Habitat is low-altitude hill forests, usually in the vicinity of small streams (Stuart et al. 2008). The type locality is Quantzelin Village (originally known as Kanshirei), Taiwan (Jang-Liaw and Lee 2009; Boulenger 1909).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Breeding season occurs in the fall (Lai et al. 2003). Adults can be found in large breeding aggregations usually in fast-flowing streams but has also been found in still-water pools (Lai et al. 2003), and tadpoles have been found in ditches as well (Wu and Kam 2005). Eggs are found under submerged rocks at water depths of 10-15 cm (Lai et al. 2003). Tadpoles are gastromyzophorus (having an abdominal sucker) and are adapted to living in fast-flowing streams (Chou and Lin 1997).

Trends and Threats
It is common but declining. Populations are currently being threatened by habitat loss due to agricultural and infrastructure development. It does not occur within any protected areas (Stuart et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Intensified agriculture or grazing

This species is part of the brown frog complex grouped in the genus Rana, and was first described by Boulenger (1909). Due to its unusual larval morphology, it was moved to Pseudorana (Fei et al. 1990; Dubois 1992) and then later selected as the type species for Pseudoamolops (Jiang et al. 1997). However, molecular work based on cytochrome b and 12s and 16s rRNA sequencing suggests this species is indeed part of a monophyletic brown frog group under Rana (Tanaka-Ueno et al. 1998; Matsui et al. 2006; Che et al. 2007). The karyotype is 2n=26 (Che et al. 2007).

High-altitude populations of brown frogs (in the middle and eastern parts of the central mountain range of Taiwan) are now regarded as a distinct species, Rana multidenticulata (Chou and Lin 1997; Stuart et al. 2008). However, some debate remains on this topic, as the two species show an intergradation zone on the western side of Taiwan's central mountain range (Chou and Lin 1997a; Jiang-Law and Lee 2009). Jiang-Law and Lee (2009) have noted that lineages inferred from larval morphology, mainly the oral disc structure of tadpoles (Chou and Lin 1997b), do not fully match up to those inferred from molecular methods (Tanaka-Ueno et al. 1998), but conclude this may be due to adaptive variation related to metamorphosis strategies and timing at lower vs. higher elevations.


Boulenger, G. A. (1909). ''Descriptions of four new frogs and a new snake discovered by Mr. H. Sauter in Formosa.'' Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 8, 4, 492-495.

Che J., Pang J. F., Zhao E. M., Matsui M., Zhang Y. P. (2007). ''Phylogenetic relationships of the Chinese brown frogs (genus Rana) inferred from partial mitochondrial 12S and 16S rRNA gene sequences.'' Zoological Science, 24, 71-80.

Chou, W. H., and Lin, I. Y. (1997). ''Geographical variations of Rana sauteri (Anura: Ranidae) in Taiwan.'' Zoological Studies, 36, 201-221.

Chou, W. H., and Lin, J. Y. (1997). ''Description of a new species, Rana multidenticulata (Anura: Ranidae), from Taiwan.'' Zoological Studies, 36, 222-229.

Dubois, A. (1992). ''Notes sur la classification des Ranidae (Amphibiens Anoures).'' Bulletin mensuel de la Société linnéenne de Lyon, 61(10), 305-352.

Fei, L. (1990). ''Key to Chinese Amphibia.'' Chonqing Branch, Science and Technology Press, Chongqing, China

Jang-Liaw, N.-H., and Lee, T.-H. (2009). ''Intraspecific relationships of populations of the brown frog Rana sauteri (Ranidae) on Taiwan, inferred from mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences.'' Zoological Science, 26, 608-616.

Jiang, J. P., Fei, L., Ye, C. Y., Zeng, X. M., Zheng, M. Q., Xie, F., and Chen, Y. Y. (1997). ''Studies on the taxonomic relationships of species of Pseudorana and discussions on the phylogenetical relationships with its relative genera (in Chinese with English abstract).'' Cultum Herpetol Sinica, 6(7), 67-74.

Kuramoto, M., Wang, C. S., and Yu, H. T. (1984). ''Breeding, larval morphology and experimental hybridization of Taiwanese brown frogs, Rana longicrus and R. sauteri.'' Journal of Herpetology, 18, 387-395.

Lai, S. J., Kam, Y. C., and Lin, Y. S. (2003). ''Elevational variation in reproductive and life history traits of Sauter’s frog Rana sauteri Boulenger, 1909 in Taiwan.'' Zoological Studies, 42, 193-202.

Matsui, M., Shimada, T., Liu, M. Z., Manyati, M., Khomsue, W., and Orlov, N. (2006). ''Phylogenetic relationships of Oriental torrent frogs in the genus Amolops and its allies (Amphibia, Anura, Ranidae).'' Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 38, 659-666.

Matsui, M., Tanaka-Ueno, T., and Gao, Z. F. (2001). ''Phylogenetic relationships of a Chinese frog, Rana zhengi Zhao 1999, inferred from mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences (Amphibia, Ranidae).'' Current Herpetology, 20, 77-84.

Matsui, T., and Matsui, M. (1990). ''A new brown frog (genus Rana) from Honshu, Japan.'' Herpetologica, 46, 78-85.

Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., and Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Tanaka- Ueno, T., Matsui, M., Chen, S. L., Tanaka, O., Ota, H. (1998). ''Phylogenetic relationships of brown frogs from Taiwan and Japan assessed by mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences (Rana: Ranidae).'' Zoological Science, 15, 283-288.

Wu, C.-S., and Kam, Y.-C. (2005). ''Thermal tolerance and thermoregulation by Taiwanese rhacophorid tadpoles (Buergeria japonica) living in thermal hot springs and streams.'' Herpetologica, 61, 35-46.

Written by Tina Cheng (tinazilla AT, San Francisco State University
First submitted 2010-06-24
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2011-04-23)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2011 Rana sauteri: Sauter's Brown Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jan 22, 2017.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Jan 2017.

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