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Genetic Determination of source populations of the California red-legged frog for reestablishment efforts in southern California

California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) floating between egg masses. --Photographer: Adam Backlin USGS

The once common California red-legged frog (Rana draytoni) previously described as a subspecies, R. aurora draytonii) has been extirpated from most of its historical range in southern California. The California red-legged frog was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1996 and final critical habitat was designated in 2006.

Because there are so few populations, recovery of the species is dependent on stabilizing the existing populations and reestablishing additional populations to watersheds with suitable habitat.  The recovery plan for the California red-legged frog identifies the reestablishment of historic populations as a criterion to consider for delisting. The plan also calls for the augmentation of existing populations and the reestablishment of extirpated populations as priority recovery actions in southern California.


Project Details

The USGS is currently using genetic techniques to characterize extant R. draytonii populations in the southern part of their range. These methods will enable us to determine 1) whether any of the populations are genetically unique, 2) the recent population history of these populations, and 3) the level of genetic diversity within populations


Data generated through this project will provide scientific support for the preservation and reestablishment of R. draytonii populations.

USGS Contact For This Project
Robert Fisher
(619) 225-6422
San Diego Field Station
4165 Spruance Road Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92101
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