Progress of the Lithobates areolatus program
at Detroit Zoo


Lithobates areolatus

Common Name(s)

Crawfish Frog

Region where program is based

North America

Country where program is based

United States

The authority that recommended this species for an ex situ program

Conservation Needs Assessment Workshop

Has a genetic analysis been performed on wild populations to define the target taxon, i.e., verify that single, viable Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESU's) that are managed as separate populations, are not confounded by cryptic species or polymorphisms?


Name of the institution managing the ex situ population

Detroit Zoo

Year the program started


Is at least some portion of the captive population maintained in range country?


Are sufficient resources available to manage the ex situ population?


Are adequate numbers of skilled staff available with the appropriate ex situ amphibian experience?


Is sufficient space available for the required population size?


Additional Support required

Has a Taxon Management Coordinator for the ex situ population been appointed?


Taxon Management Coordinator

Blake Klocke of Detroit Zoo

Has a Taxon Management Group or Recovery Team been established?


Has a Taxon Management Plan, Recovery Plan or Species Action Statement been written?


Web link to Taxon Management Plan

Have Husbandry Guidelines been written?


Web link to Husbandry Management Guidelines

Have any knowledge gaps in the species biology or in their interaction with potential threats been identified that could benefit from research using the ex situ population?

Species’ biology is already well-documented

Have founder needs been calculated using the AArk Amphibian Population Management Guidelines ?

Have sufficient potential founders been collected? ( AArk Amphibian Population Management Guidelines recommends a minimum of 20 pairs of found animals).

Is the ex situ population managed by nationals from the range country?


What tools are used to maximize retention of genetic diversity?

Has the population produced viable offspring?


Have the first generation captive-bred animals bred successfully?

Not applicable

Is the ex situ population housed in permanent isolation from other populations occurring outside its range?


Is work being supported to study and mitigate threats to the species in the wild, either by the institution or by a regional wildlife agency?


Have captive-bred or captive-reared animals been released into the wild?


If releases were undertaken, have disease screening protocols or veterinary health checks been conducted prior to releases to the wild?


Is follow-up work being carried out to monitor progress of the released animals?


Is the taxon again secure in the wild, even if it might still require some ongoing in situ management? i.e. has the need for a captive assurance population been obviated such that we can call this a successfully terminated captive rescue program?



2016: Not a captive population, only head-starting research. Crawfish Frogs are included in the State Wildlife Action Plans of all the states in their range. For example, Crawfish Frogs are state endangered in Indiana, and the URL for the Action Plan is above. Threat mitigation is being carried out by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (contact: Sarabeth Klueh-Mundy) and Indiana University School of Medicine (contact: Michael Lannoo). Releases of head-started animals carried out at Hillenbrand Fish and Wildlife Area-West (Greene County, IN; 2013–2015; contact: Michael Lannoo) and Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge (Ripley, Jefferson, and Jennings counties; 2013; contact: Joseph Robb). Tadpoles reared in captivity were returned to their natal wetlands. Crawfish Frog genetics have been determined at their northeastern range limit ( Currently, Purdue University (contact: Steve Kimble) and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources are assessing Crawfish Frog genetics across Indiana to inform future translocation efforts. Indiana University School of Medicine (contact: Michael Lannoo) is leading the effort to sequence the Crawfish Frog genome. Indianapolis Zoo (contact: Dan Madigan) also head-started Crawfish Frog tadpoles in 2015.
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