Sunday, January 26, 2020

Episode 509 (1-27-20): Early-breeding Wood Frogs and Little Grass Frogs Get the Jump on Spring

Click to listen to episode (4:24)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Image
Extra Information
Sources
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)


Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 1-24-20.

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of January 27, 2020.

MUSIC – ~6 sec – instrumental

That’s part of “The Coming Spring,” by Andrew VanNorstrand, from his 2019 album, “That We Could Find a Way to Be.”  This week, with spring still two months away by the calendar, we get an early jump on that season with two frogs that begin breeding in Virginia in mid-winter.  Have a listen for about 20 seconds to these mystery sounds, and see if you know these frogs.  And here’s a hint: If you heard these species’ earliest breeding calls, you would probably see little grass.

SOUNDS - ~19 sec

If you guessed a Wood Frog and a Little Grass Frog, you’re right!  You heard the clucking of a Wood Frog and the insect-like chirps of a Little Grass Frog.  These two species are part of 28 native frog and toad species found in Virginia.  As a group, frogs and toads are known for aquatic-habitat breeding that typically involves calling by males to attract females.   For most Virginia frogs and toads, that breeding activity starts in March or April.  But six species are considered early-season breeders, with activity starting by February, and Wood Frogs and Little Grass Frogs may start in January.

These two species occupy different parts of Virginia: Wood Frogs are found mostly in Virginia’s mountains and Piedmont, while Little Grass Frogs are found in the Commonwealth’s southeastern corner.  Wood Frogs gather in large groups in various temporary, or ephemeral, water habitats, for breeding over a few days, during which the females deposit large floating masses containing hundreds or thousands of eggs.  Little Grass Frogs, the smallest frog species in North America, seek shallow-water grassy areas and lay much smaller numbers of eggs on plants or on the bottom of a shallow pond.

These two frog species—in different regions, with different sounds and different breeding behavior—together offer much of Virginia a chance to hear life-cycles restarting well before the more familiar signs of spring.

Thanks to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and to Lang Elliott for permission to use the Little Grass Frog sound, from the 2008 CD, “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads.”  Thanks also to Andrew VanNorstrand for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 20 more seconds of “The Coming Spring,” featuring singer Kailyn Wright.

MUSIC – ~21 sec - lyrics: “I went outside and I remembered everything: how the coldest winter melts before the coming spring.”

SHIP’S BELL

Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The Wood Frog sounds heard in this episode were recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Heritage Park in Blacksburg, Va., on February 18, 2018.

The Little Grass Frog sounds in this episode were from “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads” CD, copyright 2008 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Lang Elliott/NatureSound Studio, used with permission.   For more information on this CD, contact VDGIF online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/; by mail to P.O. Box 90778, Henrico, VA 23228-0778; by phone to (804) 367-1000 (VTDD); or by e-mail to dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov.  Lang Elliott’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site, http://www.musicofnature.org/.

“The Coming Spring,” from the 2019 album “That We Could Find a Way to Be,” is copyright by Andrew VanNorstrand, used with permission.  More information about Andrew VanNorstrand is available online at https://www.andrewvannorstrand.com/.

Thanks to the following people for their help with this episode:
Tommy Cianolo, Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation;
Kevin Hamed, Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation;
Tom McNamara, Craig County, Va.;
John Kleopfer, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries;
Elizabeth Shadle, Virginia Tech Department of Biological Sciences.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode. More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.

IMAGES

Wood Frog.  Photo by Elizabeth Shadle, used with permission.


Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis) in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, February 2011.  Photo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library, online at https://digitalmedia.fws.gov/digital/collection/natdiglib/id/12030/rec/1.


Wood Frog egg mass.  Photo by Elizabeth Shadle, used with permission.


Virginia county occurrence map for the Wood Frog.  Map from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Wildlife Information/Wood Frog,” online at online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/wood-frog/.


Virginia county occurrence map for the Little Grass Frog.  Map from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Wildlife Information/Little Grass Frog,” online at online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/little-grass-frog/.

EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT THE WOOD FROG AND THE LITTLE GRASS FROG

Wood Frog

The Wood Frog’s scientific name is Lithobates sylvaticus.

The following information on the Wood Frog is quoted from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service/Wood Frog Life History Chapter,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=020019&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18270.

Physical Description
“This species ranges in length from 35-83 mm (1.5-3.25 in).   It has a distinctive dark "mask" extending back from the eye.  Dorsal [top] coloration varies from nearly pink to shades of brown to nearly black.  Females are typically more brightly colored and larger than the males.”

Reproduction
“This species is often described as an explosive, short-term breeder.  In this region, breeding often takes place over just a few days in February or March.  The breeding cue is typically temperature with males sometimes heard calling when ponds are still iced over.  Male breeding call is a raspy clacking sound similar to the quacking of a duck.  Breeding adults gather in large numbers. Females lay globular masses of eggs often closely aggregated and attached to submerged plants or other objects in shallow pools.  Mean clutch size is 1750 eggs. …This species prefers ponds, slow portions of streams, and ditches for breeding.”

Behavior, Feeding, and Habitat

This species is adapted to the cold and ranges farther north than any other North American amphibian or reptile.  It appears very early in the year, and males are often heard calling before ice-out on the ponds. …Apart from the breeding period, individuals are typically found in or near moist woods often far from open water.  They hibernate under detritus or logs in wooded ravines.  This frog feeds primarily on insects, especially beetles and flies. …In Virginia, this species is found in the mountains and in scattered locations across the Piedmont and northern Coastal Plain.  It is typically found in or near moist woods frequently far from open water.”

Little Grass Frog

The Little Grass Frog’s scientific name is Pseudacris ocularis.

The following information on the Little Grass Frog is quoted from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service/Little Grass Frog Life History Chapter,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=020010&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18285.

Physical Description
“This is the smallest frog in North America ranging in size from 11-19 mm (7/16 to 3/4 in).  Its dorsal [top] coloration ranges from gray to brown to reddish.  A characteristic dark stripe extends from nostril through the eye onto the sides.  A dark mid-dorsal stripe is sometimes present.”

Reproduction
“Few specifics are known about the life history of this species in the northern portion of its range which is southeastern Virginia.  However, general information is available.  This species breeds in association with spring and summer rains.  The male's mating call is a tinkling, insect-like ‘set-see, set-see.’  Though breeding is typically associated with rains, the calls can be heard throughout the year during warm weather.  Females deposit approximately 100 eggs singly on the bottom of shallow ponds and in vegetation.”

Behavior, Feeding, and Habitat
“This species prefers grassy areas near bogs or ponds in pine savannas and pools or streams in hardwood forests and swamps. …This species' principal prey item are small insects. …This species is found near bogs or ponds in pine savannas and pools or streams in hardwood forests and swamps.”

SOURCES

Used for Audio

Bernard S. Martof et al., Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1980.

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, “Animal Diversity Web,” online at https://animaldiversity.org.  The Wood Frog entry is at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Lithobates_sylvaticus/; there’s no listing for the Little Grass Frog.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/.
The Wood Frog entry is online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=020019&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18270.
The Little Grass Frog entry is online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=020010&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18285.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Frog Facts: Wood Frog,” 2/6/15, online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/blog/frog-facts-wood-frog/.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Virginia Frog and Toad Calling Survey,” online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/frogsurvey/.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Wildlife Information,” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/. A list of 85 amphibians, including 28 frogs and toads, found in Virginia is online at this link.
The Wood Frog entry is online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/wood-frog/.
The Little Grass Frog entry is online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/little-grass-frog/.

Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS), online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/.  The VHS supports the scientific study of amphibians (frogs, toads, and salamanders) and reptiles (lizards, snakes, and turtles).
The VHS’ Wood Frog entry is online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/wood-frog/wood_frog.php.
The VHS’ Little Grass Frog entry is online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/little-grass-frog/little_grass_frog.php.
The “Frog Calling Schedule” is online (as a PDF) at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/_phenology/va-frog-and-toad-phenology.pdf.

For More Information about Frogs and Other Amphibians

AmphibiaWeb, https://amphibiaweb.org/index.html.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “National Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative [ARMI],” online at https://armi.usgs.gov/index.php.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Virginia is for Frogs” Web site, online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/virginia-is-for-frogs/.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Amphibians” subject category.

Following are links to other Water Radio episodes that include sounds of the Wood Frog or the Little Grass Frog.

Episode 206, 3-24-14 – A Spring Serenade (including the Wood Frog).
Episode 408, 2-19-18 – A Frog and Toad Medley (including the Wood Frog).
Episode 464, 3-18-19 – Calling All Virginia Chorus Frogs (including the Little Grass Frog, which is classified as a type of chorus frog).

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) AND OTHER INFORMATION

The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
1.5 – animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
2.4 – life cycles.
3.4 – behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme

2.5 – living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.6 – ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.1 – understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science, including current applications to reinforce science concepts.
LS.4 – organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.8 – community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.

Biology Course
BIO.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.
BIO.6 – bases for modern classification systems, including structures, biochemistry, and developmental stages.
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.