Prevalence of skeletal and eye malformations in frogs from North-Central United States: Estimations based on collections from randomly selected sites

Patrick K Schoff, Catherine M. Johnson, Anna M. Schotthoefer, Joseph E. Murphy, Camilla Lieske, Rebecca A. Cole, Lucinda B Johnson, Val R. Beasley

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Skeletal malformation rates for several frog species were determined in a set of randomly selected wetlands in the north-central USA over three consecutive years. In 1998, 62 sites yielded 389 metamorphic frogs, nine (2.3%) of which had skeletal or eye malformations. A subset of the original sites was surveyed in the following 2 yr. In 1999, 1,085 metamorphic frogs were collected from 36 sites and 17 (1.6%) had skeletal or eye malformations, while in 2000, examination of 1,131 metamorphs yielded 16 (1.4%) with skeletal or eye malformations. Hindlimb malformations predominated in all three years, but other abnormalities, involving forelimb, eye, and pelvis were also found. Northern leopard frogs (Rana pipiens) constituted the majority of collected metamorphs as well as most of the malformed specimens. However, malformations were also noted in mink frogs (R. septentrionalis), wood frogs (R. sylvatica), and gray tree frogs (Hyla spp.). The malformed specimens were found in clustered sites in all three years but the cluster locations were not the same in any year. The malformation rates reported here are higher than the 0.3% rate determined for metamorphic frogs collected from similar sites in Minnesota in the 1960s, and thus, appear to represent an elevation of an earlier baseline malformation rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-521
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of wildlife diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2003



  • Amphibian
  • Anuran
  • Broadleaf forest ecoregion
  • Malformation
  • Survey

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