Of all the United States, Florida has some of the most hospitable living conditions for amphibians. Florida is home to 27 native species of frog. Because of the state's diverse temperatures and terrain, these frog types vary from the cooler, dryer atmosphere of northern Florida to the humid, marshy swamplands of the south.
Florida Frog Ilk
Florida's frogs are categorized into three habitat groups -- terrestrial, arboreal and aquatic. These denominations of frog are then grouped by the region in which they're found. Northern Florida, central Florida and southern Florida categorically separate frog species for scientific purposes. There are three invasive species of frog in Florida, but for ecological intent, researchers often omit these divergent harbingers from the case study equation.
Central State Occupants
Central Florida is home to 16 of Florida's 27 native species of frog. Mid-state terrestrial frog species live, as the name indicates, on the ground often using plants, fallen trees or other cover to avoid the sun's harsh rays. Terrestrial frogs have dry, wart-like skin and will burrow into loose soil to stay cool. Central Florida terrestrial frogs are little grass, southern cross and gopher frogs. Central Florida arboreal frogs include barking, green, pine wood and squirrel tree frogs. The arboreal frog lives in bushes, trees and man-made structures. These frogs can be identified by enlarged, adhesive foot pads that make them excellent climbers. Aquatic frogs from central Florida include American bull, bronze, pig and southern cricket frogs. Aquatic frogs spend most of their time in or around water. The aquatic frog will have noticeably oversized, webbed toes. There may be some identification confusion because all frogs gravitate to water during breeding season, so not all frogs found in the water are of an aquatic species.
Many frog species thrive in the southernmost region of Florida called the Everglades. This ecological sanctuary is a national preserve made up of a series of swamplands, hammocks, marshes and mangroves. Terrestrial frogs in southern Florida are drawn to the wetland park's swampy terrain, but also the year-round moderate temperatures. Fourteen of Florida's 27 species of frogs are native to the South Florida region and, of those, most are terrestrial. These terrestrial frogs include oak, spadefoot and little grass. South Florida's arboreal frogs are widespread, and this regional amphibian can be found as far south as the Florida Keys and Key West. These frogs include green, pine wood and squirrel. Using its enlarged toe pads, the arboreal is an excellent tree climber and does well in the numerous mangroves of this area. Surprisingly, the list of aquatic frogs of South Florida is the shortest. Only three water frogs call this area home. They live in virtually any shallow water habitat, and sometimes a salty freshwater body called brackish. These three frog species breed in lower wetlands, including the water-table, swamps, marshes and ponds. South Florida aquatic frogs include southern leopard and cricket frog.
Frogs do not know about property lines, so many of the frogs found in North Florida, and Florida's panhandle, are species indigenous to the southeastern portion of the United States. Like their brethren to the south, North Florida terrestrial frogs live on the ground. They too are wart-like in appearance and can handle the cooler temperatures common to northern Florida's winter months. Terrestrial frogs in North Florida include little grass, gopher and ornate frogs. The word "arboreal" is defined as "pertaining to trees," therefore many frogs of the arboreal ilk are tree frogs. Arboreal frogs will drastically change color in order to camouflage themselves from the multitude of aerial predators. North Florida arboreal frog species include upland and ornate chorus frogs. Like all true water frogs, North Floridian aquatic frogs have large eardrums for communication purposes and strong hind legs for swimming. Aquatic frogs indigenous to North Florida include carpenter, bog and river frogs.
- University of Florida-Florida Wildlife Extension: Frogs and Toads of Florida
- UF Wildlife Johnson Lab: Central Florida Frogs
- The Everglades: River of Grass; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Pineapple Press, Fla., Mar.1997
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