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Recovery Strategy for the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata), Great Lakes/ St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield Population, in Canada [Proposed] – 2014

Western Chorus Frog

Table of Contents

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Document Information

Recovery Strategy for the the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata), Great Lakes/ St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield Population, in Canada [Proposed] - 2014

Recommended citation:

Environment Canada. 2014. Recovery Strategy for the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata), Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield Population, in Canada [Proposed], Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series, Environment Canada, Ottawa, v + 46 pp

Additional copies:

For copies of the recovery strategy, or for additional information on species at risk, including COSEWIC Status Reports, residence descriptions, action plans and other related recovery documents, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry

Cover illustration: © Raymond Belhumeur

Également disponible en français sous le titre
« Programme de rétablissement de la rainette faux-grillon de l’Ouest
(Pseudacris triseriata), population des Grands Lacs et Saint-Laurent et du Bouclier canadien, au Canada [Proposition] »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2014. All rights reserved.
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Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.


Preface

The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress within five years of the publication of the final document on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

The Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for Parks Canada Agency are the competent ministers for the recovery of the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata), Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population, and have prepared this strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with the Government of Quebec (Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs; Ministère des Ressources naturelles and the Government of Ontario (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) under subsection 39(1) of SARA.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy, and will not be achieved by Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata), Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population, and for Canadian society as a whole.

This recovery strategy will be followed by one or more action plans that will provide information on recovery measures to be taken by Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency and other jurisdictions and/or organizations involved in the conservation of the species. Implementation of this strategy is subject to the appropriations, priorities and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.

Acknowledgments

This recovery strategy was prepared by Vincent Carignan (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Quebec Region) in collaboration with Krista Holmes, Marie-Claude Archambault, Carollynne Smith (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario Region) and Barbara Slezak (formerly with Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario Region) on the basis of an earlier draft by Sébastien Rioux and Michel Saint-Germain (formerly with Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Quebec Region). This strategy was reviewed by the current members of the Western Chorus Frog recovery team in Quebec: Vincent Carignan (Chair), Yohann Dubois, Simon Pelletier and Harold Ericksen [Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement, de la Faune et Parcs (MDDEFP)], Daniel Toussaint, Lyne Bouthillier and Nathalie Tessier [Ministère des Ressources naturelles (MRN)]; Pierre-André Bernier (consulting biologist); Caroline Gagné (Nature Conservancy of Canada); Nicole Desroches (Agence des bassins versants des 7); Tommy Montpetit (Centre d’information en environnement de Longueuil); Véronique Michaud (Hydro-Québec) and Karine Lehoux (Nature-Action Québec). Former members of the team (Claude Daigle [MRN]; Geneviève Ouimet [MDDEFP], François Durand [formerly with Hydro-Québec]; Andrée Gendron [Environment Canada, Water Science and Technology Directorate – Quebec Region]) as well as many other collaborators have contributed to the document: Alain Branchaud, Matthew Wild and Karine Picard (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Quebec Region), Madeline Austen, Lesley Dunn, Elizabeth Rezek (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario Region), Manon Dubé (Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – National Capital Region), Valéry Hamel (formerly with the Centre d’information en environnement de Longueuil), and Marie-José Ribeyron (consultant).

Executive Summary

The Western Chorus Frog is a small amphibian that breeds in temporary wetlands located in open habitats or discontinuous forests. The species is considered globally secure. However, the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield (GLSLCS) population, found at the northern limit of the species’ range, was assessed as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC ) in 2008 and was listed as such on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2010.

The abundance of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) is unknown, although it is thought to fluctuate considerably from year to year according to hydrological conditions, among other factors. However, recent data from 1995 to 2006 show a decrease of more than 40% in the occupancy of breeding wetlands in eastern Ontario, while the destruction, from 2004 to 2009, of 14% to 28% of the known breeding wetlands in Quebec indicate a probable decline in abundance.

The main threats to the species are habitat loss and degradation through urban development, intensification of agriculture, climate change, fertilizers and pesticides in wetlands, the expansion of the road and trail network, and plant succession.

There are unknowns regarding the feasibility of recovery of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS). Nevertheless, in keeping with the precautionary principle, this recovery strategy has been prepared as per section 41(1) of SARA as would be done when recovery was determined to be feasible.

The short-term population and distribution objective is to maintain the area of occupied habitat and the abundance of local populations of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in Canada. The long-term objective is to ensure the viability of local populations by increasing the area of occupied habitats and their connectivity throughout the Canadian range. Broad recovery strategies and approaches to achieve these objectives are presented in the Strategic Direction for Recovery section.

Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) is partially identified in this recovery strategy. It corresponds to the areas of suitable habitat within minimum convex polygons drawn around breeding wetlands that have been used on at least 2 occasions in the past 20 years (including at least once in the past 10 years), the adjacent terrestrial habitats up to 300 meters (m), and the dispersal corridors that connect them. A total of 260 critical habitat parcels have been identified, 211 of which are located in Ontario and 49 in Quebec. A schedule of studies has been developed to complete the identification of critical habitat necessary to meet the population and distribution objectives.

One or more action plans will be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry before the end of 2019.

Recovery Feasibility Summary

In considering the criteria established by the SARA policies (Government of Canada 2009), unknowns remain as to the recovery feasibility of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS). Nevertheless, in keeping with the precautionary principle, this recovery strategy has been prepared as per section 41(1) of SARA as would be done when recovery is determined to be feasible. This recovery strategy addresses the unknowns surrounding the feasibility of recovery.

  1. Individuals of the wildlife species that are capable of reproduction are available now or in the foreseeable future to sustain the population or improve its abundance.
    Yes. Monitoring activities conducted in Quebec and Ontario show that, despite significant declines in the number of occupied sites, breeding individuals remain in a number of locations within the range.

  2. Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the species or could be made available through habitat management or restoration.
    Yes. However, the availability of suitable habitat is rapidly declining in urban landscapes and surrounding areas. This habitat needs to be protected, and the rehabilitation of degraded wetlands or the creation of new ones must be considered.

  3. The primary threats to the species or its habitat (including threats outside Canada) can be avoided or mitigated.
    Unknown. Given the important pressure to develop residual habitats in urban landscapes, opportunities for conservation and restoration are seriously compromised. In agricultural landscapes, these opportunities still exist but are increasingly difficult to implement as agricultural practices are becoming more intensive. Questions remain as to the possibility of ensuring the survival of isolated local populations.

  4. Recovery techniques exist to achieve the population and distribution objectives or can be expected to be developed within a reasonable timeframe.
    Unknown. While the establishment of protected areas, land acquisition, and private or municipal stewardship can be effective, it is not known whether these measures alone will suffice to ensure the viability of local populations (long-term distribution and population objectives) owing to external threats. Restoration techniques are currently being tested, but their effectiveness is unknown in Canada.

1. COSEWIC Species Assessment Information[1]

Date of Assessment: April 2008

Common Name (population): Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population)

Scientific Name: Pseudacris triseriata

COSEWIC Status: Threatened

Reason for Designation: Ongoing losses of habitat and breeding sites for this small frog due to suburban expansion and alteration in farming practices have resulted in losses of populations and isolation of remaining habitat patches. Populations in Quebec are documented to have declined at a rate of 37% over 10 years and are expected to continue to decline. Despite there being some areas where chorus frogs remains evident, surveys of populations in Ontario indicate a significant decline in abundance of 30% over the past decade.

Canadian Occurrence: Ontario, Quebec

COSEWIC Status History: The species was considered a single unit and designated Not at Risk in May 2001. Split into two populations in April 2008. The Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population was designated Threatened in April 2008.

2. Species Status Information

About 9% of the global range of the Western Chorus Frog is in Canada (COSEWIC 2008). The Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield (GLSLCS) population was listed as Threatened in Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (SARA) (S.C. 2002, c. 29) in 2010. In Quebec, this population has been listed as Vulnerable under the Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species (R.S.Q., c. E-12.01) since 2001, and its status is under review. The Act Respecting the Conservation and Development of Wildlife in Quebec (R.S.Q., c.C-61.1) also prohibits capturing, selling and keeping individuals of a listed species in captivity. In Ontario, the species is not listed under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (S.O. 2007, c. 6).

Globally, NatureServe (2012) considers the Western Chorus Frog to be Secure (G5). The GLSLCS population has not been assessed at the global or national levels. However, a subnational status of Apparently Secure (S4) was assigned in Ontario, while in Quebec it is considered Imperiled (S2).

3. Species Information

3. 1 Species Description 

The COSEWIC (2008) status report describes the Western Chorus Frog as a small amphibian, ranging in colour from brown to olive grey, that weighs about 1 gram (g) and measures about 2.5 centimeters (cm) long as an adult. It has three dark lines along its back, one wider line on each flank, and a broad line that runs across the eyes. It can be distinguished from other frogs in Canada by its call, a long cre-ee-ee-ee-eek, similar to the sound of running a fingernail across the teeth a metal comb. It is, however, possible to confuse the territorial trill of the Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) with the call of the Western Chorus Frog. Spring Peepers breed in early spring, yet are much more widespread and abundant. The life expectancy of adult Western Chorus Frogs is usually one year (a single reproductive event), although some have been known to live up to two or three years (Whiting 2004). After mating and egg laying occurs, the eggs generally hatch in 3 to 27 days, depending on water temperature. Tadpoles take between 40 and 90 days to complete their metamorphosis into adults (Whitaker 1971; Whiting 2004).

3.2 Population and Distribution

The range of the Western Chorus Frog extends from southwestern to northeastern North America (Figure 1). In the United States, the species occupies a vast area stretching from Kansas and Oklahoma to northern New York and Michigan. In Canada, the Western Chorus Frog is found in the lowlands of southern Ontario and southern Quebec. Within this area, COSEWIC (2008) defines two designatable units (Figure 2): the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence – Canadian Shield population, discussed in this recovery strategy, and the Carolinian population, which has been designated as Not at Risk. A high degree of morphological resemblance, along with recent genetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA, indicates that individuals of the GLSLCS population are actually Boreal Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata) rather than Western Chorus Frogs (ConservAction ACGT Inc. 2011; Tessier et al. in preparation (prep.)). Whatever the outcome, the status of chorus frog populations remains precarious in southern Ontario and Quebec.

Figure 1. Global range of the Western Chorus Frog (adapted from COSEWIC 2008)

Figure 1. Global range of the Western Chorus Frog (adapted from COSEWIC 2008). (See long description below)
Long description for figure 1

Partial map of North America showing the global range of the Western Chorus Frog.

Figure 2. Canadian observations of the Western Chorus Frog in the faunal provinces. Observations to the north of the grey shaded area fall within the Canadian Shield faunal province (adapted from COSEWIC 2008).

Figure 2. Canadian observations of the Western Chorus Frog in the faunal provinces. (See long description below)
Long description for figure 2

Map showing Western Chorus Frog observations within three faunal provinces. They are the Carolinian Forest, the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence and the Canadian Shield.

In Quebec, the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) was historically present in the southern part of the province, from the Ottawa Valley to the foothills of the Appalachians and west of the Richelieu River (Bonin and Galois 1996; Picard and Desroches 2004; Figure 3). Currently, the species is estimated to occupy only 10% of this former distribution (Bonin and Galois 1996). In the Montérégie region, the species is thought to have been reduced to just over 800 highly fragmented sites within a narrow 20-kilometers (km)-wide band between the municipalities of Beauharnois to the south and Contrecoeur to the north (Bonin and Galois 1996; COSEWIC 2008; Rioux 2008). The presence of the species is also confirmed in slightly more than 220 sites[2] in the Outaouais region along a band 10 km wide and 100 km long that stretches east to west along the Ottawa River between Gatineau and Île-du-Grand-Calumet (St-Hilaire and Belleau 2005; COSEWIC 2008). The Western Chorus Frog recovery team in Quebec (WCFRTQ 2010) estimates that the species occupies a total of at least 102 square kilometres (km²) of habitat (60 km² in the Montérégie region and 42 km² in the Outaouais region).

Figure 3. Historical and current ranges of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Outaouais and Montérégie regions of Quebec (Gagné 2010)

Figure 3. Historical and current ranges of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Outaouais and Montérégie regions of Quebec (Gagné 2010). (See long description below)
Long description for figure 3

Map of Quebec showing the historical and current range of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Outaouais and Montérégie regions.

In Ontario, the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) is much more widespread, extending from the United States border to Georgian Bay, south of Algonquin Park in the Frontenac Axis, and up the Ottawa Valley to Eganville (Oldham and Weller 2002). No systematic surveys specific to the species and its habitat have been conducted in this province (COSEWIC 2008; but see Cook 1992); therefore, no estimates of the number of occupied sites are available. However, a few studies in eastern Ontario report a decrease in the number of sites where the species has historically been present (−30% near Ottawa: Seburn and Gunson 2011; −95% near Cornwall: Seburn et al. 2008). These two studies were conducted in the wildland-urban interface and are good examples of the trend of loss of habitat due to housing developments in this type of context. They do not, however, take into account the fact that some adjacent breeding sites have been more recently colonized.

Western Chorus Frog surveys are usually conducted via auditory surveys, which cannot be used to determine population abundance (COSEWIC 2008). The abundance of Canadian and global populations is therefore unknown; however, it is known that abundance fluctuates considerably and can double from one year to the next (COSEWIC 2008). In addition to limitations related to the survey methodology, the identification of trends is complicated by the temporary nature of occupied wetlands and the possibility of cyclic variations in populations (Skelly et al. 2003; Crewe et al.2009). Nevertheless, according to an analysis of the Marsh Monitoring Program[3] data for the period of 1995–1996 to 2005–2006, the number of sites with observations of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) decreased by 42.6% in Ontario (Crewe et al.2009 – supplement to the 2008 COSEWIC [4] status report). In Quebec, the nature of the collected data does not allow for the quantitative establishment of the decline in abundance. However, the WCFRTQ (2010) notes that a decline is likely, given that 14% of breeding wetlands in the Montérégie region and 28% in the Outaouais region were destroyed between 2004 and 2009.

3.3 Needs of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS)

The Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) occupies a variety of lowland habitats with an open or discontinuous canopy (e.g. clearings, damp meadows, wildlands, shrubland), where scattered slight depressions may allow the formation of wetlands (e.g. marshes, swamps, ponds) that generally dry out in summer (Ouellet and Leheurteux 2007; COSEWIC 2008). The vegetation in these habitats is mainly herbaceous (e.g. cattails [Typha spp.],sedges [Carex spp.], Reed Canary Grass [Phalaris arundinacea]), but also includes shrubs (e.g. Red Osier Dogwood [Cornus stolonifera], willows [Salix spp.], Speckled Alder [Alnus incana ssp. rugosa]) and partially submerged trees (e.g. Black Ash [Fraxinus nigra], Red Maple [Acer rubrum]).

The specific needs of individuals vary according to the life cycle stages.

Breeding

From late March to late August, individuals generally occupy temporary rather than permanent wetlands, likely because of lower predation pressure (COSEWIC 2008). Skelly (1995, 1996) showed that the number, size and diversity of predators increased with the degree of permanence of a wetland. The reduced influence or absence of predators is a characteristic of smaller wetlands that are generally physically isolated from the hydrologic network. In agricultural landscapes in the Outaouais region (western Quebec), Gagné (2011) found that breeding wetlands averaged 0.27 hectars (ha) (up to 6.12 ha), 68% were not connected to a stream, and only 9% were within 50 mof a wetland large enough to be mapped by current geospatial tools.

The temporary nature of breeding habitats increases susceptibility to premature drying due to climate variations or other causes (e.g. high temperatures, low precipitation, drainage). This explains, in part, why large inter-annual fluctuations in abundance may occur. The persistence of local populations depends, at a minimum, on the availability of a sufficient number of wetlands having a long enough hydroperiod (presence of water) to allow tadpoles to metamorphose into their adult form.

Foraging and movements within a local population

Owing to the species’ limited movement capability--average of 3.5 m per day, maximum of 42 m per day (Kramer 1973)--foraging and other summer activities (e.g. rest) usually occur in terrestrial habitats within a 250- to 300-m radius of breeding sites (Desroches et al.2002; Semlitsch and Bodie 2003; Ouellet and Leheurteux 2007). Accordingly, the home range of an individual may contain multiple breeding sites (Mann et al. 1991), promoting the survival of the local population (a rescue effect in the event of extirpation in a given wetland; Hanski et al. 1995) and genetic exchanges.

The limited movement capability of this species and its small size make it susceptible to dehydration when it has to cross dry environments (e.g. roads, agricultural fields; Picard and Desroches 2004; Whiting 2004; Mazerolle and Desrochers 2005). The type of habitat that connects breeding grounds is therefore likely to influence the distances an individual can travel. Gagné (2011) also showed that sites where the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) is present include less land planted with intensive annual crops (3% versus 8%) and more open, uncultivated land (31% versus 13%) within a 300-m radius. However, individuals of the species can also often occupy sites with significant agricultural cover (up to 86% according to Seburn et al. 2011) or urban land uses if vegetation characteristics are suitable.

Hibernation

Western Chorus Frogs hibernate in the terrestrial portion of their home range, in soft soil substrates, under rocks, dead trees or dead leaves or in existing burrows (Froom 1982). Whiting’s study (2004) in the Montérégie region (Quebec) indicates that almost all individuals hibernate less than 100 m from breeding grounds, since proximity to such sites affords a reproductive advantage during the spring thaw.

Dispersal between local populations

Given that adults are thought to breed only once in their lifetime and that the mortality rate is high at all life-cycle stages (e.g. 81% to 99% for adults: Smith 1987; Whiting 2004), the survival of each local population is dependent on annual recruitment through breeding (i.e. produced within the local population) or through immigration of individuals from adjacent local populations (long-distance dispersal). Collectively, these interconnected local populations form what is known as a metapopulation.

In Western Chorus Frog populations, the genetic diversity found at landscape scale suggests that dispersal can reach 750 m on occasion (Spencer 1964). A limited number of immigration events is sufficient to result in local populations remaining functionally connected, thereby acting as a metapopulation. As is the case for movements within local populations, long-distance dispersal depends on a high level of connectivity and ease of movement across the habitats.

4. Threats

4.1 Threat Assessment

Table 1. Threat Assessment
Threat CategoryThreatLevel of Concern1ExtentOccurrenceFrequencySeverity2Causal Certainty3
Habitat loss and degradation
Urban development
High
Widespread
Current
Continuous
High
High
Habitat loss and degradation
Intensification of agriculture
High
Widespread
Current
Continuous
High
High
Habitat loss and degradation
Expansion of the road and trail network
Moderate
Localized
Current
Continuous
Unknown
Unknown
Habitat loss and degradation
Plant succession
Moderate
Localized
Current
Continuous
Unknown
Moderate
Pollution
Fertilizers and pesticides
Moderate
Widespread
Current
Seasona
Moderate
Moderate
Climate and natural disasters
Climate change
Moderate/
High
Widespread
Current
Continuous
Unknown
Unknown

1 Level of Concern: signifies that managing the threat is of (high, medium or low) concern for the recovery of the species, consistent with the population and distribution objectives. This criterion considers the assessment of all the information in the table.
2Severity:reflects the population-level effect (High: very large population-level effect, Moderate, Low, Unknown).
3Causal certainty: reflects the degree of evidence that is known for the threat (High: available evidence strongly links the threat to stresses on population viability; Medium: there is a correlation between the threat and population viability e.g. expert opinion; Low: the threat is assumed or plausible).

4.2 Description of Threats

Urban development

A number of Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) populations occupy lands that are highly sought after for residential, commercial and industrial development. The loss and degradation of suitable habitat resulting from these activities are presumably responsible for the bulk of the observed decline (COSEWIC 2008; WCFRTQ2010).

In the Montérégie region of Quebec, 14% of known breeding habitats were destroyed between 2004 and 2009 (WCFRTQ 2010). During the same period, on Île Perrot (west of Montréal), filling for residential development resulted in the destruction of 27 of the 80 known breeding wetlands, and an additional 14 are considered threatened in the short term (WCFRTQ 2010). In the Boisé de la Commune in La Prairie, 44 of the 99 known breeding wetlands have been destroyed, and 13 more are threatened in the short term (Lyne Bouthillier, personal communication (pers. comm.)).

In the Outaouais region of Quebec, the species disappeared from 28% of the breeding sites surveyed between 2004 and 2009, a decline largely concentrated in urban areas (COSEWIC 2008; WCFRTQ 2010). Similar results have been observed in eastern Ontario where suitable habitat in the wildland-urban interface is affected in the same way as in Quebec (Sanders 1970; Seburn et al. 2008, 2011).

In addition to habitat loss and degradation, urban development also leads to habitat fragmentation, which further isolates the populations. The resulting decrease in immigration increases the likelihood of a local population becoming extinct (Hanski et al. 1995), namely by the absence of a rescue effect. In the longer term, there may also be a decrease in genetic diversity and in the survival rate of individuals (Hitchings and Beebee 1997).

The negative effects of human presence within or near suitable Western Chorus Frog habitats also include changes to hydrology caused by soil impermeability and drainage, increased sedimentation and pollution (including the deposit of waste), increased interactions with introduced animal and plant species or with native animals that benefit from contact with humans (e.g. raccoons), and effects on the local micro-climate (Hamer and McDonnell 2008). Collectively, these edge effects can have a sustained negative impact on habitats and individuals, particularly in urban landscapes.

Intensification of agriculture

Intensive agriculture has led to filling, land drainage (including land levelling) and forest clearing in the St. Lawrence Lowlands, resulting in habitat loss and degradation and reduced connectivity (COSEWIC 2008). The situation is particularly dire in the Montérégie region, where natural habitats covered only 33% of the landscape in 2001 (Latendresse et al. 2008).

In the Outaouais region, although half of the local Western Chorus Frog populations are in agricultural areas (COSEWIC 2008), the prevalence of landscapes that are better suited for less-intensive agriculture (e.g. perennial crops, livestock; Jobin et al. 2004) has resulted in fewer changes to natural drainage patterns (Bonin and Galois 1996). On cultivated land, 86% of fields are used to grow perennial crops, and the crop rotation cycle is generally longer (6 to 16 years) than the provincial average of 5 years (François Biron, Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ), pers. comm. – in Gagné 2011). However, high market prices may be adding pressure to convert these fields to more intensive farming (Daniel Toussaint, MDDEFP, pers. comm.).

There is very little data that could establish a link between agricultural land-use changes and Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) populations in Ontario. In their Ottawa study, despite a 35% reduction in the occupancy of sites surveyed repeatedly since the 1970s, Seburn et al.(2011) observed no significant changes in land-use variables within a 1-km radius.

Climate change

Climate change can impact Western Chorus Frog habitat by affecting the duration of flooding (hydroperiod) of the temporary ponds in which the species breeds (Bonin and Galois 1996). Reduced accumulations of snow, faster spring snowmelt, and prolonged periods of drought would cause ponds to dry up more quickly and reduce the breeding success of the Western Chorus Frog (Bonin and Galois 1996; Barnett et al. 2005). More generally, changes in weather patterns (precipitation, drought) can alter the population dynamics of a number of amphibian species, including the Western Chorus Frog (Walls et al. 2013). A recent study has indicated that the Boreal Chorus Frog, a closely related species, has limited potential to adapt to reduced hydroperiods (Amburgey et al. 2012). Climate change could also influence vegetation structure and composition, including plant succession patterns (Blaustein et al.2010). The magnitude of this threat remains unknown.

Fertilizers and pesticides

In certain areas of intensive agriculture with few riparian buffer strips, the concentration of nitrates from fertilizers reaches levels recognized as problematic for the hatching and growth of amphibians, including the Western Chorus Frog (Hecnar 1995; COSEWIC 2008). Furthermore, laboratory studies have revealed that certain pesticides (organochlorides) used in Canada have toxic effects on Western Chorus Frog tadpoles (Berril et al. 1997). These chemicals appear to have mutagenic effects (e.g. deformities, feminization of males), in addition to changing habitat characteristics and reducing prey abundance (Bishop 1992).

The use of the pesticide BTi to control West Nile Virus is on the rise, owing to considerations related to the comfort of urban residents and to public health. Although the effects of spraying pesticides in or near wetlands occupied by chorus frogs are known (Mazzacano and Black 2013), few studies showing the impact on the Western Chorus Frog exist. However, it is probable that this activity can currently be considered a threat.

Expansion of the road and trail network

The increase in the density of the road and trail network and in the number of vehicles that use it is a threat to the species throughout its range. In addition to resulting in direct mortality of individuals and the spread of invasive plant species, roads and trails can act as barriers to dispersal and thus contribute to habitat fragmentation (COSEWIC 2008). In Quebec, many breeding wetlands that became isolated because of anthropogenic structures were abandoned after a few years, despite the continued presence of suitable habitat (Picard and Desroches 2004). Maintenance of roadside ditches may also threaten the species by rendering the habitat unsuitable, e.g. creating slopes that are too steep (WCFRTQ2000).

With respect to trails, frogs sometimes use puddles in ruts created by off-road vehicles. These ruts act as ecological traps because there is an increased risk that individuals will be crushed (Galois and Ouellet 2005). In some cases, these puddles could also dry up prematurely, thereby preventing the metamorphosis of tadpoles into adults. The magnitude of this threat remains unknown.

Plant succession

Although the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) sometimes breeds in mature forests, it prefers open habitats such as herbaceous or shrub grassland, wildlands, and young forests with a discontinuous canopy (Bonin and Galois 1996). When agriculture is abandoned on marginal land, succession towards more mature forests begins (COSEWIC 2008). This may affect the hydroperiod, particularly when species such as cattail and Reed Canary Grass (which grow quickly in spring, thereby creating shade, and leave persistent herbaceous residues) prolong the thawing and raise the temperature of wetlands (Skelly and Meir 1997; Whiting 2004). Such changes in some of the breeding sites appear to have caused the extirpation of some local populations of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in Quebec and Ontario (Bonin and Galois 1996; Seburn and Gunson 2011). The importance of this threat is unknown and may be site-specific.

5. Population and Distribution Objectives

The short-term population and distribution objectives are to maintain the area of occupied habitat[5] and the abundance[6] of local populations of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in Canada. The long-term objective is to ensure the viability[7] of local populations by increasing the area of occupied habitat and their connectivity throughout the Canadian range. These objectives are in line with those of the provincial recovery plan and action plan for the Western Chorus Frog in Quebec (WCFRTQ 2000; update in prep.), which are to maintain the remaining suitable habitat, restore degraded habitat and develop new habitat or structures (e.g. amphibian crossings) to promote the viability of local populations by increasing their abundance and connectivity. There is no equivalent document for the province of Ontario since the species is not listed.

6. Broad Strategies and General Approaches to Meet Objectives

6.1 Actions Already Completed or Currently Underway

Quebec

  • Targeted surveys (1993–2013 in the Outaouais region; 1992–2013 in the Montérégie region) and a survey of all known breeding sites in 2004–2005; volunteer surveys through the Marsh Monitoring Program (since 2004)
  • Creation of the Western Chorus Frog recovery team (1998)
  • Publication of a provincial recovery plan in 2000 and the 1999–2009 recovery assessment report (WCFRTQ 2000, 2010)
  • Publication and implementation of 11 regional conservation plans (Bouthillier and Léveillé 2002; Centre d’information sur l’environnement de Longueuil and WCFRTQ 2006; Angers et al. 2007, 2008a, b, c, d, e, f, g; Bernard 2010; Gagné 2010; Tanguay et al. 2012)
  • Publication and implementation of a standardized population monitoring protocol (Daigle et al.2011)
  • Publication of a protocol for the creation of temporary wetlands (Montpetit et al.2010)
  • Completion of a number of studies on habitat requirements and genetic characterization of populations (Ouellet and Leheurteux 1997; Whiting 2004)
  • Ex situ breeding program at the Montréal Biodôme and the Ecomuseum from 2008 to 2011
  • Outreach activities for landowners, farmers, municipalities, residents and students and the signing of stewardship agreements since the early 2000s
  • Signing of a biodiversity conservation agreement between MRN and Hydro-Québec (2001)
  • Preservation of significant habitats (e.g. Boisé du Tremblay, which is home to about 25% of the Western Chorus Frog population in the Montérégie region; Bois de Brossard, ~ 530 ha; Bois de Boucherville, ~ 188 ha; Breckenridge)

Ontario

  • Population monitoring through the Marsh Monitoring Program (since 1994)
  • Collection of information on amphibians through Frogwatch Ontario (amphibian monitoring project)
  • The Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary Atlas made it possible to collect information on various amphibian and reptile sightings throughout Ontario (also see Oldham and Weller 2000)
  • The new Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas has improved knowledge of the distribution and status of various species through the collection of information on known sightings throughout the province, the implementation of field surveys and the amalgamation of existing databases

6.2 Strategic Direction for Recovery

Table 2: Recovery planning
Threat or Limiting FactorBroad Recovery StrategyPriorityGeneral Description of Research and Management Approaches
  • Urban development
  • Intensification of agriculture
  • Fertilizers and pesticides
  • Expansion of the road and trail network
  • Plant succession
Stewardship and management of the species and its suitable habitatHigh
  • Implement legal or stewardship measures in suitable habitat and in adjacent areas to reduce the impact of threats
  • Continue or implement management approaches that are designed to increase species abundance and occupancy of suitable habitat
Knowledge gapsSurveys and monitoringMedium
  • Conduct surveys to more precisely identify the area occupied by the GLSLCS population
  • Implement a standardized monitoring protocol for Ontario and Quebec
  • Periodically monitor habitat occupancy (e.g. every 10 years)
Knowledge gapsSurveys and monitoringLow
  • Conduct a periodic survey of the historical range
Knowledge gapsResearchMedium
  • Specify the attributes of suitable habitat and how individuals react to variations in them in space and time
  • Determine population viability criteria
  • Study and predict the impact of climate change on the hydroperiod of breeding ponds
AllCommunication and outreachMedium
  • Develop and implement a communications strategy targeting partner agencies, groups interested in the species, private landowners and the general public

7. Critical Habitat

7.1 Identification of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS)’s Critical Habitat

SARA defines critical habitat as “the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species.” For the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS), critical habitat is partially identified in this recovery strategy to the extent possible using the best available information. The schedule of studies (Section 7.2) outlines the activities required to complete the identification of critical habitat to meet the population and distribution objectives. As new information becomes available, more precise boundaries may be established and additional critical habitat may be identified.

The identification of critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) is based on three criteria: habitat suitability, habitat occupancy, and connectivity between local populations.

7.1.1 Habitat suitability

This criterion refers to the biophysical attributes of habitats where individuals can meet the needs associated with the various stages of their life cycle (e.g. mating, egg-laying, tadpole metamorphosis, foraging, hibernation, dispersal) in Canada (see Table 3). For stages taking place in wetlands, all areas of suitable habitat are incorporated into critical habitat. For stages taking place on land, areas of suitable habitat are incorporated up to 300 m from the boundaries of breeding wetlands to allow for the completion of the species’ annual life cycle, as suggested by the literature (Desroches et al. 2002; Ouellet and Leheurteux 2007).

Table 3. Description of the biophysical attributes of suitable habitat for specific life cycle stages of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS)
Life Cycle StageHabitat TypeBiophysical Attributes
BreedingWetlands (including ponds, basins, marshes,
swamps, drainage ditches)
  • Temporary wetlands[8] or shallow portions of permanent wetlands

AND

  • Vegetation structure and composition: generally herbaceous (e.g. cattails, sedges, Reed Canary Grass) with occasional shrubby wildlands (e.g. Speckled Alder, Red Osier Dogwood, willows) or partially submerged trees forming an open or discontinuous canopy (e.g. Black Ash, Red Maple, Silver Maple), although some local populations breed in heavily canopied habitat (e.g. Silver Maple swamps)

AND

  • Absence or limited presence of fish and other aquatic predators
Foraging and
movements within
a local population
Terrestrial (lowlands such as pastures, clearings, meadows, wildlands, shrublands)
  • Vegetation structure and composition correspond to those of breeding sites
HibernationTerrestrial (lowlands)
  • Vegetation structure and composition correspond to those of wetlands used as breeding and foraging habitat

AND

  • Availability of soft substrate with dead leaves, woody debris or burrows
Dispersal between
local populations
Wetlands and/or
Terrestrial (lowlands)
  • Vegetation structure and composition correspond to those of wetlands used as breeding and foraging habitat

AND

  • Mosaic of interconnected wetlands and terrestrial environments

7.1.2. Habitat occupancy

This criterion refers to areas of suitable breeding habitat (and adjacent foraging and hibernating habitat up to 300 m away) where there is a reasonable degree of certainty of recurrent use by the species (an indicator of habitat suitability) and of their contribution to the exchange of individuals between adjacent local populations (an indicator of sustained metapopulation processes).

The habitat occupancy criterion is established by selecting the data obtained from point counts conducted during the breeding period:

  • dating from the year 1992 or later; AND
  • covering at least two separate years within a 20-year period, with at least 1 of the observations dating from the last decade.

The period starting in 1992 corresponds to the first systematic surveys of breeding wetlands in Quebec (1992–1993), but also to the threshold beyond which an observation is considered historical in conservation data centres (i.e. 20 years for the Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) and the Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec (CDPNQ)). Owing to the dynamic nature of the habitat, a more recent observation increases the confidence that the suitable habitat is still available. The data used to designate essential habitat in this recovery strategy are from 1992 to 2012.

Mann et al. (1991) have reported that there is a positive relationship between the probability of occurrence of various amphibian species and the number of breeding ponds available to a local population. A local population that has access to multiple breeding wetlands will therefore have higher chances of survival. The minimum threshold to establish recurrent occupancy of suitable habitat within a local population is set at two observations of breeding, from point counts, separated by a maximum distance of 600 m(i.e. twice the 300 m of suitable terrestrial habitat that may be used to complete the annual life cycle).

7.1.3. Connectivity between local populations

The main purpose of connectivity between local populations, referred to here as dispersal corridors, is to sustain metapopulation processes that are essential for their persistence. Dispersal corridors increase the chances of a rescue effect should a local population (or wetland) become extinct. They also maintain genetic diversity on a larger scale than what is observed within local populations. Dispersal corridors could also allow individuals to adapt to pressures exerted by environmental conditions (e.g. reduced hydroperiod, pollution, anoxic environment) by progressively moving to areas within or outside of their home range that may have more suitable biophysical attributes. These functions are even more essential for a species that has limited dispersal abilities and is confined to highly fragmented agricultural and urban landscapes.

A dispersal corridor is an area of habitat connecting 2 breeding sites that meet the habitat occupancy criteria (Section 7.1.2) and that are separated by a maximum distance of 900 m. This is 3 times the average maximum distance travelled by the species within its annual life cycle (300 m; Desroches et al. 2002; Semlitsch and Bodie 2003; Ouellet and Leheurteux 2007) and is suggested by NatureServe (2002) as a precautionary value for linking habitats together on the basis of individuals’ movements. It is also in the same order of magnitude as the 750-m distance for long-distance dispersal reported by Spencer (1964). As for corridor width, habitats suitable to dispersal encompass areas up to a maximum of 300 m on each side of the feature used to connect 2 adjacent local populations (e.g. a creek).

7.1.4 Application of the critical habitat criteria

Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) is partially identified in this recovery strategy. It corresponds to the areas of suitable habitat within minimum convex polygons drawn around habitats selected by applying the criteria in sections 7.1.1 to 7.1.3. In Appendix A, tables A-1 and A-2 and figures A-1 to A-7 present the 10×10-km standardized UTM grids[9] (red outlines) and the critical habitat parcels[10] (yellow polygons) for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in Canada. A total of 260 critical habitat parcels covering approximately 33 048 ha are identified, including 211 parcels in Ontario (16 793 ha) and 49 parcels in Quebec (16 275 ha). Although individuals may only occupy a small portion of suitable habitat within a parcel at any given time, the entire suitable habitat complex is identified as critical habitat. This consideration is particularly important, given that the data used to map critical habitat provide only a snapshot of the situation in time and that the location of local populations have been observed to shift over a relatively short period of time (Nathalie Tessier, 2013, pers. comm.). It also takes into account the fact that physical barriers (e.g. housing developments, highways) adjacent to breeding wetlands result in home ranges of varying sizes and shapes. Lastly, it provides the necessary space to restore or create habitats within or between neighbouring local populations, thereby increasing the area of occupied habitat and connectivity (long-term population and distribution objective).

Any anthropogenic structures (e.g. houses, paved surfaces) and any areas (e.g. drained agricultural fields, sewage treatment/settling ponds) that do not have the characteristics of suitable habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) are not identified as critical habitat. Any significant disruption in the continuity of the habitat that results in a dispersal barrier (e.g. multi-lane highway, large watercourse) would be considered a boundary edge for critical habitat in that site (i.e. two separate critical habitat parcels would result if the habitat occupancy criteria are still met).

7.2 Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat

Table 4: Schedule of studies
Description of the ActivityRationaleSchedule
Conduct surveys of habitat for which limited information is available (e.g. only one observation), particularly habitat adjacent to parcels containing critical habitatAddition of parcels containing critical habitat to consolidate local populations (connectivity) and reach the long-term population and distribution objective2014–2019
Monitor created or restored habitats to establish whether there is a recurrent use by the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS)Addition of parcels containing critical habitat to consolidate local populations (connectivity) and reach the long-term population and distribution objective2014–2024

7.3 Activities Likely to Result in the Destruction of Critical Habitat

Habitat destruction is determined on a case-by-case basis. Destruction occurs if an element of the critical habitat has permanently or temporarily deteriorated to the point where the habitat can no longer serve its purpose when the species needs it. Destruction can result from one or more activities occurring at a given time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time (Government of Canada 2009; see Table 5 for examples).

Table 5. Examples of Activities Likely to Result in the Destruction of Critical Habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS)
Description of ActivityDescription of Effect
(biophysical attributes or other)
Scale of Activity Likely to Cause Destruction
(Site)[1]
Scale of Activity Likely to Cause Destruction
(Area)[2]
Scale of Activity Likely to Cause Destruction
(Landscape)[3]
Occurrence Relative to Critical Habitat BoundariesTiming Considerations
Construction and maintenance of linear features
(e.g. roads, pipelines, energy corridors)
Loss or degradation of suitable habitat for all life stages (e.g. removal of vegetation cover all the way to the ground, conversion to paved surfaces); changes to the habitat resulting in barriers to dispersal (e.g. steep slopes, multi-lane roads, concrete lane dividers) and increasing the risk of mortality (e.g. roads across wetlands can funnel movements towards high-risk zones if these are not fenced); dumping of snow containing minerals (e.g. salts) that affect water qualityxx Can occur within or outside critical habitat boundariesApplicable at all times if the effect is permanent (e.g. paving of natural habitat)
If conducted when individuals are not using the targeted biophysical attributes and in a manner that does not prevent future use, the maintenance of linear features (e.g. cutting shrubs under power lines) may not be considered habitat destruction
Construction of housing units and other urban infrastructure (e.g. commercial and industrial buildings, playgrounds)Loss or degradation of suitable habitat for all life-cycle stages (e.g. filling of wetlands; removal of vegetation used used for foraging); changes to the habitat resulting in barriers to dispersal; changes to the habitat from edge effects and increased recreational use of habitatxx Must occur within critical habitat boundariesApplicable at all times
Reshaping (levelling and/or filling), drainage or channelization of wetlands (temporary and permanent)Loss or degradation of suitable breeding habitat (e.g. draining of adjacent areas leading to drop in the water table level, increased water depth, steep slopes); connecting a predator-free wetland to a fish habitat (e.g. via drainage ditches) resulting in the introduction of predatorsxx Can occur within or outside critical habitat boundariesApplicable at all times
Intensification of agricultural practicesLoss or degradation of suitable habitat for all life-cycle stages (e.g. conversion from perennial crops to more intensive crops, such as corn; reduced foraging opportunities through the removal of vegetation); changes to the habitat resulting in barriers to dispersal; reduced water quality and prey availability owing to increased runoff of pesticides and fertilizersxxxCan occur within or outside critical habitat boundariesApplicable at all times

1 Site: effect anticipated within a 1×1-km area;
2 Area: effect anticipated within a 10×10-km area;
3 Landscape: effect anticipated within a 100×100-km area.

8. Measuring progress

The performance indicators presented below provide a way to define and measure progress in achieving the population and distribution objectives.

  • In the short term (5 years), the area of occupied habitat and the local population abundance are maintained in Canada.
  • In the long term (20 years), local population viability is achieved and the area of occupied habitat and connectivity are increased throughout the Canadian range.

9. Statement on action plans

One or more action plans for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) will be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry by the end of 2019.

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Western Chorus Frog Recovery Team in Quebec (WCFRTQ). 2010. Bilan du rétablissement de la rainette faux-grillon l’Ouest (Pseudacris triseriata) pour la période 1999–2009. Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Faune Québec. 42 pp.

Western Chorus Frog Recovery Team in Quebec (WCFRTQ). In preparation. Plan derétablissement de la rainette faux-grillon de l’Ouest (Pseudacris triseriata) au Québec – 2014-2024. Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs, Faune Québec.

Whitaker, J. O., Jr. 1971. A study of the western chorus frog Pseudacris triseriata, in Vigo County, Indiana Journal of Herpetology 15(3–4): 127–150.

Whiting, A. 2004. Population ecology of the Western Chorus Frog, Pseudacris triseriata. Master’s Thesis, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 106 pp.

Appendix A. Critical Habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS)

Table A-1. Description of the 10×10-km standardized Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) squares and critical habitat parcels for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in Quebec.
10×10-km UTM Square ID[1]UTM Square Coordinates (Easting)[2]UTM Square Coordinates (Northing)[2]Number of Critical Habitat Parcel Centroids within the UTM Square[3]Total Critical Habitat Parcel Area (ha) within the UTMSquare[4]Land Tenure[5]Municipality
18WR605600005000000041Federal and non-federalSaint-Stanislas
18WR70570000500000011,727Federal and non-federalSaint-Louis-de-Gonzague
18WR71570000501000001Federal and non-federalSalaberry-de-Valleyfield
18WR72570000502000007Non-federalIle-Perrot
18WR8058000050000000201Federal and non-federalSaint-Louis-de-Gonzague
18WR8158000050100002758Federal and non-federalBeauharnois
18WR82580000502000031,610Non-federalIle-Perrot
18XR1261000050200001627Non-federalCandiac
18XR146100005040000138Non-federalLongueuil
18XR2262000050200000865Non-federalLa Prairie
18XR23620000503000021,135Non-federalBrossard
18XR24620000504000031,569Non-federalLongueuil
18XR25620000505000011,381Non-federalBoucherville
18XR3363000050300001140Non-federalCarignan
18XR3463000050400001344Federal and non-federalSaint-Basile
18XR3763000050700001101 Contrecoeur
18VR0440000050400002475Federal and non-federalPontiac
18VR134100005030000013Non-federalPontiac
18VR14410000504000041,205Federal and non-federalPontiac
18VR224200005020000013Non-federalGatineau
18VR2342000050300008915Federal and non-federalPontiac
18VR2442000050400001166Federal and non-federalPontiac
18VR324300005020000134Non-federalGatineau
18VR3343000050300002693Federal and non-federalGatineau
18VR4344000050300005465Federal and non-federalGatineau
18VR5345000050300003557Non-federalGatineau
18UR663600005060000084Non-federalGrand-Calumet
18UR7637000050600002411Non-federalGrand-Calumet
18UR8438000050400002496Non-federalBristol
18UR94390000504000006Non-federalBristol
18UR9539000050500002197Federal and non-federalBristol
   Total of 16 275 ha in 49 critical habitat parcels   

1 Square ID is based on the standard UTM Military Grid Reference System (see http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography-boundary/mapping/topographic-mapping/10098), where the first two digits represent the UTM Zone, the following two letters indicate the 10×10-km standardized UTM grid, and the final two digits represent the 10×10-km standardized UTM grid containing all or a portion of the critical habitat parcel. This unique alphanumeric code is based on the methodology used for the Breeding Bird Atlases of Canada (see http://www.bsc-eoc.org/ for more information on breeding bird atlases).
2 The listed coordinates represent the southwest corner of the 10×10-km standardized UTM grid containing all or a portion of the critical habitat parcel. The coordinates may not fall within critical habitat and are provided as a general location only.
3A value of "0" means the grid square contains a portion of (a) critical habitat parcel(s) but not the parcel centroid.
4 The area presented corresponds to the sum of critical habitat parcels falling within the UTM square (rounded up to the nearest 1 ha). It is an approximation obtained by incorporating 300 m of wetland and terrestrial habitats (suitable or not) around each observation meeting the habitat occupancy criteria (Section 7.1.2.). The actual area of critical habitat may be much less, depending on where the criteria for critical habitat are met (see Section 7.1). Field verification may be required to determine the precise area of critical habitat.
5Land tenure is provided as an approximation of the types of land ownership that exist within the critical habitat parcels and should be used for guidance purposes only. Accurate land tenure will require cross-referencing critical habitat boundaries with surveyed land parcel information.

Figures of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) Critical Habitat in Quebec

Figure A-1. Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Montérégie Ouest sector of Quebec.

Figure A-1. Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Montérégie Ouest sector of Quebec. (See long description below)
Long description for figure A-1

Map of parcels containing Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) critical habitat and standardized UTM squares for the Montérégie–Ouest region in Quebec. Critical habitat occurs within the 10×10-km standardized UTM squares (red outlines). Critical habitat parcels (yellow) show the approximate extent of areas that meet the criteria set out in Section 7.1.

Figure A-2. Critical habitat for Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Montérégie East sector of Quebec.

Figure A-3. Critical habitat for Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Île-du-Grand-Calumet and Shawville sectors of Quebec. (See long description below)
Long description for figure A-2

Map of parcels containing Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) critical habitat and standardized UTM squares for the Montérégie–Est region in Quebec. Critical habitat occurs within the 10×10-km standardized UTM squares (red outlines). Critical habitat parcels (yellow) show the approximate extent of areas that meet the criteria set out in Section 7.1.

Figure A-3. Critical habitat for Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Île-du-Grand-Calumet and Shawville sectors of Quebec.

 (See long description below)
Long description for figure A-3

Map of parcels containing Western Chorus Frog (GLSTCS) critical habitat and standardized UTM squares for the Île-du-Grand-Calumet and Shawville areas in Quebec. Critical habitat occurs within the 10×10-km standardized UTM squares (red outlines). Critical habitat parcels (yellow) show the approximate extent of areas that meet the criteria set out in Section 7.1.

Figure A-4. Critical habitat for Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Gatineau (Outaouais) sector of Quebec.

Figure A-4. Critical habitat for Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Gatineau (Outaouais) sector of Quebec. (See long description below)
Long description for figure A-4

Map of parcels containing Western Chorus Frog (GLSTCS) critical habitat and standardized UTM squares for the Gatineau region in Quebec. Critical habitat occurs within the 10×10-km standardized UTM squares (red outlines). Critical habitat parcels (yellow) show the approximate extent of areas that meet the criteria set out in Section 7.1.

Table A-2. Description of the 10×10-km standardized UTM squares and critical habitat parcels for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in Ontario.
10×10-km UTM Square ID[1]UTM Square Coordinates (Easting)[2]UTM Square Coordinates (Northing)[2]Number of Critical Habitat Parcel Centroids within the UTM Square[3]Total Critical Habitat Parcel Area (ha) within the UTM Square[4]Land
Tenure[5]
17LM823800005120000129Non-federal
17MH374300004770000130Non-federal
17MH654600004750000139Non-federal
17MH764700004760000130Non-federal
17MH854800004750000130Non-federal
17MJ634600004830000130Non-federal
17NH465400004760000264Non-federal
17NH565500004760000126Non-federal
17NH575500004770000149Non-federal
17NH585500004780000130Non-federal
17NH595500004790000259Non-federal
17NH8958000047900001208Non-federal
17NH995900004790000156Non-federal
17NJ415400004810000130Non-federal
17NJ515500004810000130Non-federal
17NJ525500004820000130Non-federal
17NJ625600004820000259Non-federal
17NJ715700004810000143Non-federal
17NJ815800004810000259Non-federal
17NJ90590000480000009Non-federal
17NJ9159000048100002325Non-federal
17NK125100004920000129Non-federal
17PJ016000004810000015Non-federal
17PJ0460000048400001344Non-federal
17PJ05600000485000011,023Non-federal
17PJ066000004860000166Non-federal
17PJ076000004870000145Non-federal
17PJ116100004810000146Non-federal
17PJ136100004830000022Non-federal
17PJ146100004840000157Non-federal
17PJ156100004850000285Non-federal
17PJ286200004880000144Non-federal
17PJ4764000048700002181Non-federal
17PJ596500004890000137Non-federal
17PJ686600004880000129Non-federal
17PJ69660000489000007Non-federal
17PK366300004960000129Non-federal
17PK416400004910000129Non-federal
17PK496400004990000129Non-federal
17PK506500004900000022Non-federal
17PK526500004920000129Non-federal
17PK6066000049000004181Non-federal
17PK886800004980000129Non-federal
17QJ177100004870000129Non-federal
17QJ197100004890000129Non-federal
17QJ397300004890000129Federal
17QK0270000049200004518Federal and non-federal
17QK03700000493000051,365Federal and non-federal
17QK0470000049400002423Non-federal
17QK0670000049600002148Non-federal
17QK1171000049100004693Federal and non-federal
17QK1371000049300003304Federal and non-federal
17QK157100004950000167Non-federal
17QK2072000049000001135Non-federal
17QK2172000049100004535Non-federal
17QK2272000049200005562Non-federal
17QK2372000049300004427Non-federal
17QK2472000049400001121Non-federal
17QK307300004900000285Non-federal
17QK3173000049100006809Non-federal
17QK327300004920000064Non-federal
17QK3373000049300003162Non-federal
17QK3473000049400001211Non-federal
17QK3573000049500001180Non-federal
18TP8728000048700002128Non-federal
18TP962900004860000014Non-federal
18TP972900004870000129Non-federal
18TP982900004880000130Federal and non-federal
18TQ612607054910000171Non-federal
18TQ6326144049300002195Non-federal
18TQ7227000049200003208Non-federal
18TQ7427000049400002171Federal and non-federal
18TQ7527000049500001359Non-federal
18TQ802800004900000129Non-federal
18TQ912900004910000129Non-federal
18UP063000004860000116Non-federal
18UP083000004880000268Non-federal
18UP163100004860000129Non-federal
18UP1831000048800004190Non-federal
18UP1931000048900002112Non-federal
18UP283200004880000129Non-federal
18UP363300004860000264Non-federal
18UP373300004870000125Non-federal
18UP393300004890000129Non-federal
18UP463400004860000129Non-federal
18UP493400004890000129Non-federal
18UP593500004890000129Non-federal
18UP693600004890000129Non-federal
18UP793700004890000182Federal and non-federal
18UQ003000004900000129Non-federal
18UQ023000004920000129Non-federal
18UQ033000004930000129Non-federal
18UQ103100004900000129Non-federal
18UQ303300004900000125Non-federal
18UQ31330000491000004Non-federal
18UQ363300004960000129Non-federal
18UQ553500004950000129Non-federal
18UQ60360000490000001Non-federal
18UQ613600004910000128Non-federal
18UQ7037000049000004175Non-federal
18UQ863800004960000129Non-federal
18UQ8738000049700002214Non-federal
18UQ913900004910000125Non-federal
18UQ92390000492000005Non-federal
18UR903900005000000175Non-federal
18UR933900005030000129Non-federal
18VQ174100004970000131Federal and non-federal
18VQ2142000049100003162Federal and non-federal
18VQ234200004930000129Non-federal
18VQ284200004980000148Non-federal
18VQ294200004990000065Non-federal
18VQ314300004910000129Federal and non-federal
18VQ3243000049200004186Federal and non-federal
18VQ3443000049400004299Non-federal
18VQ3543000049500006328Non-federal
18VQ364300004960000258Non-federal
18VQ3743000049700003257Non-federal
18VQ3843000049800003298Non-federal
18VQ39430000499000001Non-federal
18VQ434400004930000132Non-federal
18VQ4444000049400002105Non-federal
18VQ4644000049600006364Non-federal
18VQ4744000049700005272Non-federal
18VQ484400004980000145Non-federal
18VQ5745000049700001169Non-federal
18VQ654600004950000129Non-federal
18VQ674600004970000129Non-federal
18VQ974900004970000130Non-federal
18VQ98490000498000007Non-federal
18VR0140000050100001103Non-federal
18VR034000005030000290Non-federal
18VR1041000050000003133Non-federal
18VR114100005010000177Non-federal
18VR314300005010000169Non-federal
18WQ095000004990000173Non-federal
18WR155100005050000129Non-federal
   Total 16 793 ha in 211 critical habitat parcels  

1 Square ID is based on the standard UTM Military Grid Reference System (see http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography-boundary/mapping/topographic-mapping/10098), where the first two digits represent the UTM Zone, the following two letters indicate the 100×100-km standardized UTM grid, and the final two digits represent the 10×10-km standardized UTM grid containing all or a portion of the critical habitat parcel. This unique alphanumeric code is based on the methodology used for the Breeding Bird Atlases of Canada (see http://www.bsc-eoc.org/ for more information on breeding bird atlases).
2 The listed coordinates represent the southwest corner of the 10×10-km standardized UTM grid containing all or a portion of the critical habitat parcel. The coordinates may not fall within critical habitat and are provided as a general location only.
3 A value of "0" means the grid square contains a portion of (a) critical habitat parcel(s) but not the parcel centroid.
4 The area presented corresponds to the sum of critical habitat parcels falling within the UTM square (rounded up to the nearest 1 ha). It is an approximation obtained by incorporating 300 m of wetland and terrestrial habitats (suitable or not) around each observation meeting the habitat occupancy criteria (Section 7.1.2.). The actual area of critical habitat may be much less depending on where the criteria for critical habitat are met (see Section 7.1). Field verification may be required to determine the precise area of critical habitat.
5 Land tenure is provided as an approximation of the types of land ownership that exist within the critical habitat parcels and should be used for guidance purposes only. Accurate land tenure will require cross-referencing critical habitat boundaries with surveyed land parcel information.

Figures of the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) Critical Habitat in Ontario

Figure A-5. Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Rideau Valley, Ontario.

Figure A-5. Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Rideau Valley, Ontario. (See long description below)
Long description for figure A-5

Map of standardized UTM squares containing Western Chorus Frog critical habitat in the Rideau Valley in Ontario. Critical habitat occurs within the 10×10-km standardized UTM squares (red outlines), where the criteria described in Section 7.1 are met. To respect provincial data-sharing agreements, critical habitat parcels (yellow) are not mapped in Ontario.

Figure A-6. Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Eastern Lake Ontario Area, Ontario.

Figure A-6. Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the Eastern Lake Ontario Area, Ontario. (See long description below)
Long description for figure A-6

Map of standardized UTM squares containing Western Chorus Frog critical habitat in the Eastern Lake Ontario region in Ontario. Critical habitat occurs within the 10×10-km standardized UTM grid indicated by the red outlines, where the criteria described in Section 7.1 are met. To respect provincial data-sharing agreements, detailed parcels (yellow) are not mapped in Ontario. Due to the different projection between UTM zones, all squares do not have the same dimension.

Figure A-7. Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the London, Western Lake Ontario, Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Lake Simcoe and Elliot Lake areas, Ontario.

Figure A-7. Critical habitat for the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS) in the London, Western Lake Ontario, Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Lake Simcoe and Elliot Lake areas, Ontario. (See long description below)
Long description for figure A-7

Map of standardized UTM squares containing Western Chorus Frog critical habitat in the London, Western Lake Ontario, Greater Toronto, Lake Simcoe and Elliot Lake areas in Ontario. Critical habitat occurs within the 10×10-km standardized UTM grid indicated by the red outlines, where the criteria described in Section 7.1 are met. To respect provincial data-sharing agreements, detailed parcels (yellow) are not mapped in Ontario.

Appendix B: Effects on the Environment and Other Species

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision making and to determine whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or any of the goals or targets in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.[11]

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.

A number of amphibian and reptile species are likely to benefit from conservation efforts for the Western Chorus Frog, including the Grey Treefrog (Hyla versicolor), Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans melanota), Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) and American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus). In permanent marshes, the Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis), King Rail (Rallus elegans), Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) and Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) may also share similar habitats. No adverse effects on other species or the environment are anticipated.


1 COSEWIC = Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
2 As a site may represent a single or multiple wetlands, it is not possible to compare the number of sites in the Outaouais and Montérégie regions.
3 The Marsh Monitoring Program is a wildlife monitoring program for coastal and inland marshes based on the efforts of volunteers who collect data on marsh birds, habitat, frogs and toads. It should be noted that the permanent wetlands (e.g. marshes) monitored by this program are not the most representative of habitats used by the Western Chorus Frog and that reported trends should be interpreted accordingly.
4 The data available at the time of preparation of the status report suggested a 30% decline (see Section 1).
5 See sections 7.1.1 and 7.1.3 for the description of suitable habitat and how it is delineated.
6 Estimated from the number of occupied breeding sites and, when available, from the index of abundance attributed to choruses and the index of metapopulation viability (see WCFRTQ 2000, 2010).
7 A viable population is one that, because of the quality of the environment it inhabits and possible genetic exchanges with other local populations (i.e. a functional metapopulation), is very likely to survive in the medium and long term (WCFRTQ2000).
8 This type of habitat, largely used by the Western Chorus Frog (GLSLCS), is not typically mapped in an accurate or consistent way in current land-use classification frameworks because of limitations due to minimum mappable units (e.g. occupied wetlands are often very small), discernability of elements (e.g. difficulty of detecting suitable features under tree canopies), or frequency of updating (e.g. hydroperiod variability from year to year results in occupied habitat not being static in space).
9 This standardized national grid system indicates the general geographic area containing critical habitat and can be used for various purposes, including land-use planning and environmental assessment.
10 To respect provincial data-sharing agreements, detailed polygon information (in yellow in the figures for Quebec’s critical habitat) is not provided in Ontario figures. However, this information is available and may be requested on a need-to-know basis by contacting Environment Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service at RecoveryPlanning_Pl@ec.gc.ca.
11 Planning for a Sustainable Future: A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada.