A primary threat to amphibians in North America is the loss of wetland areas used for reproduction, especially small, temporary, and isolated wetlands. The Illinois chorus frog (Pseudacris streckeri illinoensis) is particularly vulnerable and exists today in a highly fragmented distribution limited to a few isolated populations in Arkansas, Illinois, and Missouri. Precision land-leveling combined with seasonal drought conditions has resulted in a significant population decline and range contraction for this species in Arkansas. Distributional surveys conducted from 1987 through 2004 indicate a 61% range contraction from a maximum of 59 km2 to a current range of approximately 23 km2. Additionally, there has been a lack of recruitment the past 2 years for a species that typically possesses a 2–3-year lifespan. Because the Clean Water Act will only protect isolated vernal pools if the continued existence of a threatened or endangered species is jeopardized, the future of this subspecies of chorus frog in Arkansas is both tenuous and problematic. In the absence of immediate protection and habitat modification through the reintroduction of depressions, we argue extirpation of this species in Arkansas may be imminent. The increasing use of precision land-leveling may have implications for other amphibian species worldwide.
Pseudacris streckeri illinoensis