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Pine Barrens Treefrog - May 2003 Species of the Month

The Pine Barrens treefrog (Hyla andersonii) was the May Species of the Month in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the New Jersey Endangered Species Conservation Act and the formation of DEP's Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP).

This species has many unique identifying characteristics - a nasal, honking "quonk-quonk-quonk" call, vibrant coloration, a tiny inch and a half long body, and an appetite for mosquitoes. They are also found in a specific type of habitat - sandy, acidic and mucky soils that offer dense shrubs, heavy ground cover, and shallow ponds, bogs and ditches for breeding needs.

The Pine Barrens treefrog was first described in New Jersey, and in the state occurs only in what is now known as the Pinelands. What's most unique about the species this year though, is that it has been "down-listed" - which is a good thing!

Recognized in New Jersey as an endangered species since 1979, the status of the Pine Barrens treefrog has been upgraded to "threatened" due to being locally abundant in some areas of New Jersey where this treefrog is known to occur - another success story in New Jersey.

Pine Barrens Treefrog
Pine Barrens Treefrog
Photo courtesy of Blaine Rothauser

Pine Barrens Treefrog habitat
Pine Barrens Treefrog habitat
Photo courtesy of Bob Zappalorti

Pine Barrens Treefrog
Pine Barrens Treefrog
Photo courtesy of Robert Gran

Slowly Making a Comeback…

  • New Jersey is one of only three locations worldwide where Pine Barrens treefrogs are found. The other two locations are the northern "pan handle" of Florida and Alabama and in the Carolinas.

  • Pressures from development (habitat loss) and water pollution (pesticides, primarily) led to the decline of Pine Barrens treefrog population in the New Jersey Pinelands throughout the mid-1900s.

  • In 1992 the New Jersey Natural Heritage Program considered the species to be "apparently secure globally" yet "rare in New Jersey." Protection of this treefrog was warranted due to its restricted habitat preferences and the limited suitable habitat that was actually available here in the state.

  • Because the Pine Barrens treefrog is now locally abundant in areas where it is known to occur in New Jersey, its population is now recognized as being more secure in the state. One initiative that aided in this achievement was the establishment of the Pinelands National Reserve in 1978, which is currently protected by the Pinelands Protection Act and the Pinelands Commission's Comprehensive Management Plan for the Pinelands region.

Pine Barrens Treefrogs – Facts of Interest

  • Its body is a vibrant green with a purple stripe (and whitish border) extending from its snout through the eye and down the sides of the body. The inner surfaces of the front and hind thighs are and orange color.

  • This treefrog eats small insects and other invertebrates. These elusive amphibians can typically be found in swamps, bogs, lowlands or under heavy ground cover.

  • Breeding takes place in shallow pools in late spring in New Jersey. During May, June, and July, males call to attract females to breeding pools, where mating occurs. The fertilized eggs are attached to plant stems underwater to later hatch, with the process of tadpoles becoming adults taking about two months to complete.

  • Scientists study the species by using the mating call of the males to locate them or estimate their numbers. Their voice is nasal and low in pitch, and the call is uttered more slowly on cold nights and more quickly on warm evenings.

Pine Barrens Treefrog calling
Pine Barrens Treefrog calling
Photo courtesy of Clay Myers

Ways You Can Help

PIne Barrens Treefrog face
Photo courtesy of Clay Myers

Want to receive information quickly about New Jersey wildlife? The Division of Fish and Wildlife offers eight E-mail "mailing list" choices to the public. Visit the E-mail List Subscription Page to learn more about this free service and how to sign up.

Check-off for Wildlife when completing your state tax return! This is a primary funding source for the preservation of the state's endangered and nongame wildlife.

Conserve Wildlife license plate
Order a Conserve Wildlife special interest license plate for your vehicle. It's tax-deductible, with 80% of the payment benefiting New Jersey's Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

Want to volunteer? Enjoy giving presentations? Looking for speakers? The Division of Fish and Wildlife offers two opportunities:The Endangered and Nongame Species Program's Speakers Bureau and the Division's Wildlife Conservation Corps. Visit these sites for details.

Additional Sources of Information
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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: October 7, 2004