Welcome to the home of TUCSON RANA* -

 A website devoted to the gathering and posting of information relating to Arizona's native species. 

The Tucson Basin, Northern Sonoran Desert and rana species in particular.

To try and help promote awareness and understanding for all about the importance in saving native fauna and environment. Amphibians and reptiles are biological barometers of the ecosystem. 

*Restoring Arizona's Native Amphibia 

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hop to all the links:

I've been getting more questions about native plants so some links have been added that are plant specific

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Do you have unknown tadpoles or amphibians in your yard or water feature? Please check out The Good to help identify your visitors. If you have leopard frog or Sonoran River Toad you want to encourage them to stay. They are both very endangered and need our help. Especially from the introduced American Bullfrog which is one of the contributors to their possible extinction if nothing is done. 

You may also send images or questions to Tucsonrana. We are always looking for images or information about any amphibian specifically or reptile you may come across. Please include location. 

If you do have Sonoran Toads, which do have a toxic secretion, and you own dog you will have to be careful if you want to keep the species in your yard. If you do want to help bring back the species you  will need to train your pup to leave the Toads alone.  Similar to snake avoidance training. 

>The Humane Society of Tucson offers classes <

Latest news:

Fatal frog fungal disease figured out - Electrolyte imbalance stops amphibians' hearts.
Nature News ^ | 22 October 2009 | Emma Marris

Frogs are suffering from a fatal fungal infection.Vance T. Vredenburg/SFSU

A fungal infection that is killing amphibians around the world acts by disrupting the flow of electrolytes across their skin, ultimately causing heart failure. The discovery is helping to raise hopes that a treatment for the infection could one day be given to amphibians in the wild.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a kind of chytrid fungus that causes the skin disease chytridiomycosis in amphibians, was likely spread around the world by the South African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) in the 1930s and 1940s, when the frog was widely used as a pregnancy test. A pregnant woman's urine, injected under the frog's skin, would contain sufficient hormones to make the animal ovulate.

But although the South African clawed frog seems to have immunity to the disease, many other amphibians are not so lucky. According to one study led by chytrid expert Karen Lips of the University of Maryland in College Park, chytridiomycosis can kill 80% of amphibians in one year in an area with cool, moist conditions.1 Until now, no one was sure exactly how the fungus killed its victim; some researchers thought that it might secrete a poison.

Jamie Voyles, a disease ecologist at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, and colleagues exposed Australian green tree frogs (Litoria caerulea) to the fungus, and have now worked out its deadly mode of attack.

Voyles and colleagues monitored the progression of the infection, took blood and urine samples and measured electrolyte flow across skin samples. They found that levels of two ions potassium and sodium were greatly reduced in infected frogs, and that the ability to move these ions back and forth across the animals' skin had been greatly impaired.

"Frog skin is really unique because it is permeable to water but it must maintain proper concentrations of these [electrolyte] ions," says Voyles. In infected frogs, "the electrolyte balance is all out of whack".

The low potassium levels, in particular, were probably responsible for a breakdown of the electrical regulation of the heart, and the frogs ultimately died because their hearts stopped. The work is reported in Science2.
Rich solution

The team found that an electrolyte-rich solution, similar to sports drinks but more concentrated, delayed death in infected frogs. But it couldn't cure them. "Because the skin is damaged, we can't really keep them from dying unless we fix the problem in the skin," says Voyles.

Although captive frogs can be bathed in an antifungal medicine to rid them of their infection, there is no easy way to treat the hundreds of species of wild amphibians at risk of being wiped out by the fungus.

Voyles's work is just one piece of research that might someday lead to a treatment that could be deployed in the wild. Geneticist Erica Rosenblum of the University of Idaho in Moscow is looking at gene expression in both the fungus and the host to determine what makes the fungus so lethal and why amphibian immune systems don't seem to be aware of the infection.3 "Jamie has found that their osmotic regulation is all screwed up, they are essentially having heart attacks," she says. "Mine is an earlier question: why don't they have an immune response?"

One possible treatment is being pursued by Reid Harris, a microbial ecologist at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He has found that at least some species of amphibians have beneficial bacteria on their skin that produce a protective antifungal agent.4 He is looking into the possibility of adding more of these bacteria to the soil in ecosystems where vulnerable amphibians live, to boost their natural defences. "People are already doing this in their gardens and larger-scale agricultural applications as well," he says.

Harris would first like to try the technique on populations of frogs in captivity so-called survival assurance colonies held in zoos and other institutions awaiting the day when they can be safely returned to the wild.

Despite all these advances, Lips says that she has seen too many frog populations destroyed by the fungus to retain her optimism about saving what is left. "I don't know that there is enough money going to the right labs quickly enough to make a difference," she says. "More governments and NGOs need to step up. I mean, we are losing half the amphibians on the planet. And throwing amphibians into zoos is a short-term solution. It doesn't solve any problems." 



1. Lips, K. R., et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103, 3165-3170 2006 | Article | PubMed | ChemPort |
2. Voyles, J. et al. Science 326, 582-585 (2009).
3. Rosenblum, E. B. et al. PLoS ONE 4, e6494 (2009).
4. Harris, R. N., Lauer, A., Simon, M. A., Banning, J. L. & Alford, R. A. Dis. Aquat. Organisms 83, 11-16 (2009).

Courtesy Nature News

CDC site for those that want to really get a lot more:

technical information


Images - amphibian chytridiomycosis - yahoo

Science 23 October 2009:
Vol. 326. no. 5952, pp. 582 - 585
DOI: 10.1126/science.1176765

Pathogenesis of Chytridiomycosis, a Cause of Catastrophic Amphibian Declines

Jamie Voyles,1,*  Sam Young,1  Lee Berger,1  Craig Campbell,2  Wyatt F. Voyles,3 Anuwat Dinudom,2  David Cook,2  Rebecca Webb,1  Ross A. Alford,4  Lee F. Skerratt,1  Rick Speare,1

The pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the skin disease chytridiomycosis, is one of the few highly virulent fungi in vertebrates and has been implicated in worldwide amphibian declines. However, the mechanism by which Bd causes death has not been determined. We show that Bd infection is associated with pathophysiological changes that lead to mortality in green tree frogs (Litoria caerulea). In diseased individuals, electrolyte transport across the epidermis was inhibited by >50%, plasma sodium and potassium concentrations were respectively reduced by ~20% and ~50%, and asystolic cardiac arrest resulted in death. Because the skin is critical in maintaining amphibian homeostasis, disruption to cutaneous function may be the mechanism by which Bd produces morbidity and mortality across a wide range of phylogenetically distant amphibian taxa.

Full text at sciencemag.org

1. School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, Amphibian Disease Ecology Group, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.
2. Discipline of Physiology, Bosch Institute, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
3. School of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.
4. School of Marine and Tropical Biology, Amphibian Disease Ecology Group, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia. 


Help fight Amphibian Chytrid (Chytridiomycosis) Fungus one of the main threats to many amphibians!

Our frogs and amphibians are in trouble!!

Over one-third of the world's amphibian species are considered threatened or endangered. For decades, scientists have studied the disappearance of amphibians and have even discovered some of the possible causes including global climate change, habitat loss and pollution. Recently, an emerging infectious disease known as the Amphibian Chytrid Fungus has been shown to wipe out massive numbers of amphibians from pristine natural locations in many places around the world. This disease is currently unstoppable in the wild, but treatable in captivity

Learn more at the following links:

Learn how to identify and if found please notify Tucsonrana or Dr Phil Rosen at University of Arizona immediately!!

Think Globally Act Locally

Field Trips Page!

Idea to show submitted images of frogs or toads in their habitats. Any habitat, any region, any country.   Frog and Toad cams included. 

Using a global mapping service you will be able to go to the exact coordinates for each set of images when GPS data is provided. Otherwise you will go to general area.

Would like to see this as an interactive page. If anyone has any ideas, please email. lowland@tucsonrana.com 

Requested images and information:

  1. Image - Overall location
  2. Image - Specific location
  3. Images - Subject, as many as you like
  4. Info - Direction you are looking in Overall location 
  5. Info - As much as you want to provide about general or specific habitat you found submitted hopper
  6. GPS coordinates would be ideal 

Until then the Field Trips Page will be the scrap book for pictures people have sent in.  Thank you. 

JUNE 04 2007

Fish and Wildlife Service - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants;

  Chiricahua Leopard Frog Recovery Plan
AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of availability; final recovery plan for Chiricahua leopard frog.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announce the 

availability of a final recovery plan for the Chiricahua leopard frog 

(Rana chiricahuensis). The species occurs in central and southeastern 

Arizona, west-central and southwestern New Mexico, and the sky islands 

and Sierra Madre Occidental of northeaster Sonora and northwestern 

Chihuahua, Mexico. The Chiricahua Leopard Frog Recovery Plan presents 

information on the species and its habitat, including delisting criteria and  

recovery actions to conserve the species 

Click to see full text - [Federal Register: June 4, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 106)]

For those that did not receive a copy of the hand-out from Kathryn Mauz's Presentation at the August Meeting of The Tucson Watergardeners Club about the history of aquatic and riparian plants found in the Tucson Basin- 

Here it is:  you will need Adobe Acrobat



"Amphibians, Reptiles, and their habitats at Sabino Canyon"


 Notice of Availability of the Draft Recovery Plan for the 
Chiricahua Leopard Frog

Latest News 

  Click below to see the bad      or     below to see the ugly (results)

pests2.jpg (229947 bytes)  Exotic  Pests   pests1.jpg (205608 bytes)

courtesy of Pima County's Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan

Please be responsible

- Do Not Release unwanted plants or animals into the wild - 

If you have aquatic plants or animals you have to get rid of please contact the webmaster of this website or a member of The Tucson Watergardeners 

 Click on these guys-


to see the natives of Tucson

Watch for news on:

awarding grants to U of A Extension Farm and Schumacher Grade School for the funding of the building of educational water featuresClick here to see the article

Congratulations to Laguna Elementary School staff and especially students! They are Grant recipients that with the help of many in the community have a new educational, relaxation pond. 

Click here to see past programs

check out the pages below:

 Study has been completed- Thank you all!

Do you want to do something to help declining amphibians?

See a list of the wanted with images and sounds:

the mapping of Tucson's frogs and toads is being compiled 

Results of a three year study. 

Tucson's Lowland leopard frogs are coming back! Study shows that our Lowland leopard frog are making a comeback - thank you to those involved.

TucsonRana will continue to compile data after this this study. 

Think globally and act locally. Tucsonrana will continue to work with U of A and national researchers in gathering information on frog and toad populations in the city of Tucson and surrounding areas. We need you to listen for frog and toad choruses in the vicinity of your home. If you can document any sounds and estimate numbers please email with any information you can gather, Recordings with images if possible. You can listen to voices on the 

**Please listen for any frog or toad song - generally from February through September

  • Looking to find the locations of the toads and frogs of the Tucson Basin by their song.

  • If you live close to any riparian area like streams, washes, cienagas or man made ponds you could well hear or see what we are interested in. 

  • Please email Tucsonrana or Dr Rosen with any information you have. 

  • Leopard Frog breeding generally takes place  February through March when night when night temperatures are over 10C/50F. 

  • Most of our toads will be heard during monsoon. UofA extension farm at Campbell and Roger is a great place to hear Couchi and Great Plains. 

  •  If you want to get more information please email this website or contact 

  • Phil Rosen at 319-0470, Dennis Caldwell at 624-0198 or Jay Evenson at 370-1824.

URGENT: Read the post from Phil Rosen-

See a list of the wanted with images and sounds: (A page in progress, looking for images and recordings from anyone in the Tucson area. Please send to; lowland@tucsonrana.com

Print or download- Category and species sheet- .doc

Print or download- Tucson Area Toad and Frog Larval Period Data -.doc

Print or download- DATA SHEET DL form-.doc

 Rillito River/Dodge to Ina Route Reports,  je

aug 09 2004

     The Monsoon is not being kind to us this year. Except for the southeast and the north side of the Catalina's  bringing water to the Pantano and Canada del Oro we are very dry. I haven't seen the Rillito at Dodge or Campbell running side to side yet. We still have a some time for central and west to get some wet. This is also a good time to plan out sites that you would want to go for the survey.

Aug 2005

     Yet another disappointing year for our wet season. The extended drought conditions are starting to been seen with more clarity now. Trees near the rivers are really starting to show stress. Even the cacti and "drought tolerant" plants are taking a beating.  I heard very little activity on the normally noisy route. Let's hope for a better winter/spring rainfall.

Reports from Mountain and Roger

March 2006

Well that didn't help much. 2 in if we were lucky in the Roger/Mountain area for the winter. Hearing of more incidents of WILDLIFE coming into ponds. 

I would like to hear from any or all of you that have had or are having close encounters with said Wildlife.  Had a raccoon attack in my pond this year, had to get over 5 ft walls to get in. Cats get in so I know there is no problem for one of the midnight bandits.  Heard from CH that they had one drinking out of their dogs water dish. Saw him after the backyard motion light came on. 

So please email with creature, date, time, and location. Would be interesting to see if there are any patterns here.

September 2008

UofA extension farm and River Road updates

With the road changes to River Road and addition of the Alvernon Way bridge we have lost a lot of native wildlife habitat. Who knows what these will mean. The area around the bridge were usually a high count area for couchi noted during the field study.  What was found during the 2008 monsoon was that the Great Plains Toad were much more prevalent.  If this is due to changes in habitat or just a natural cycle will have to be studied and documented. 

Couchi seemed to be less prevalent While Great Plains more this season over all. My thoughts are that it is part of a natural cycle. Let's see what happens during the 09 monsoon. 

Safe Harbor Agreements Arizona

Safe Harbor Agreement for Topminnow and Pupfish can be seen at: (you will need adobe acrobat to view it online)  http://www.setonresourcecenter.com/Register/2004/Mar/25/15362A.pdf

Copy of agreement can be obtained by writing to
Regional Director US Fish and Wildlife Service
PO Box 1306 room 4102
Albuquerque, NM 87103

or contact:
Doug Duncan
Tucson sub-office Arizona Ecological Services Field Office
201 North Bonita Ave suite 141
Tucson, AZ 85745 

520 670 6144 ext 236

Please refer to PDF article for submission of comments addresses. 

Have fun!

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Keep watching and listening

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