Conserve Wildlife Blog

The American green treefrog found in southern New Jersey!

June 16th, 2011

© Dave Golden

by Karena DiLeo, Assistant Biologist

A large, breeding population of the American green treefrog, Hyla cinerea, has been discovered in Salem County, New Jersey.  H. cinerea is a common treefrog found in the southeastern United States with a range extending from southern Delaware down the coastal plain to Florida and along the Gulf to Texas.   Although very abundant in sections of its range, it has never been documented in New Jersey.

This serendipitous discovery happened during a routine chytridiomycosis survey in southern New Jersey.  After finishing up a bat acoustics training, MacKenzie (our Private Lands Biologist), offered to help me conduct my night-time amphibian survey.  My intention was to visit a site in the Pinelands but I was surprised by the loud and unidentifiable calling from an impoundment across the road.   As we hiked through dense phrag that had been weaved together by mile-a-minute weed, we were completely oblivious to the clear path to our right that would become apparent in daylight.

Upon reaching the water, the calling was almost deafening and any communication between us was conducted by yelling.  As I waded across the impoundment, the water became very deep and the thick silt slowed movement and caused a fair amount of water to overflow my chest waders.  As the emergent vegetation grew thicker, I began to notice an abundance of small, green treefrogs clasped to the phrag, calling a couple inches above the water.  Confused, as they clearly weren’t peepers and we were out of Pine Barren Treefrog range, I was able to catch one and return to the other side for MacKenzie’s opinion.

© Dave Golden

Upon closer inspection, this frog was clearly not a native to New Jersey.  This little light green frog was about 2 inches in length with small, bright, yellow spots on its back and a pale underside. (This first treefrog did not have the characteristic white side line, but subsequent samples did.)  Luckily, MacKenzie had her camera and was able to take several diagnostic pictures that we would later investigate.

After consulting with several experts and a site visit with ENSP Biologist, Dave Golden, we confirmed that there was a large population of H. cinerea at this site in Salem County.   We are currently conducting more site assessments in the area to determine the green treefrog’s range in New Jersey.   Together with ENSP, we will be starting a genetic study comparing samples collected in New Jersey to local samples found in Delaware in hopes of determining the origin of the New Jersey population.

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4 Responses to “The American green treefrog found in southern New Jersey!”

  1. Joe Stefanoni says:

    Just curious if this is a native population that was somehow never recorded or if they think it was somehow transplanted to NJ from elsewhere?

  2. Dennis Sexton says:

    Joe ,
    Ilive near the Pine Barrens of NJ . Every year we find turtles in our yard while cutting our grass . My question is just how do you figure their age ?

    This year alone we have found 5 turtles from 4 ” to 6 ” and have released them after cutting our grass . There are a lot of woods around us and some swamps and fields .


  3. Karena DiLeo says:

    Since there is no historic records of green treefrogs in NJ, we believe it is a transplanted population. We are currently in the process of comparing the genetics between this isolated NJ population and local DE populations.

  4. Brian Freeman says:

    I live in Medford NJ near the edge of the pinelands, and over the past several years on rainy nights I find green tree frogs clinging to my garage door, I think they like the bugs attractd by the light by the door. I always assumed that they were the pine barrens treefrog because of where I live, but now seeing your pictures here, I wonder if they were just american green tree frogs, I cant recall the purple stripe, I think they were just plain green. They were deffinatly tree frogs with the little suction cup like feet, but now I wonder what kind they really were, I will look more closly if I see them again this year.

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