Rocky Mountain tailed frog (Ascaphus montanus)

A closeup of a Rocky Mountain tailed frog on the ground at night
Note the small tail on this frog. (Glacier National Park)
Category: Amphibians
Ecosystems: Riparian areas
State status: Candidate
Vulnerability to climate change (More details)

Moderate-
High

If you see this species, please share your observation using the WDFW wildlife reporting tool or email us at  wildlife.data@dfw.wa.gov. Be sure to include a photo of the species for verification and location (latitude/longitude coordinates) of your observation. 

The Rocky Mountain tailed frog is vulnerable to management practices that alter the riparian or aquatic zones of streams, especially those practices that change the moisture regime, increase sediment load, reduce woody debris input and change stream bank integrity. Protection of headwater streams is particularly important.

Climate vulnerability

Sensitivity to climate change

Moderate-
High

Though there is limited information available regarding the sensitivity of the Rocky mountain tailed frog to climate change, particularly for Washington populations, this species may exhibit some sensitivity to predicted increases in stream temperature with climate change. Rocky mountain tailed frogs breed in streams and tadpoles spend many summers in stream habitat. However, recent data on stream temperature comparisons suggests that temperatures tolerated are considerably higher than for the Coastal tailed frog. Increases in stream temperature during the summer could lead to declines in tadpoles and adults. Both adults and juveniles may be able to avoid summer increases by migrating to areas of the stream with cooler water, and some studies have shown an ability to withstand increases in stream temperature. Additionally, potential drier, warmer conditions and increases in wildfires could alter this species’ preferred forest habitat and lead to reductions in population size. Increases in winter and spring precipitation could also lead to increased flooding events, and disturb available habitat for juveniles.

Confidence: Moderate

Exposure to climate change

Moderate-
High

  • Increased stream temperatures
  • Changes in precipitation
  • Altered fire regimes
  • Altered hydrology (i.e., increased flooding and changes in timing of high water events)
Confidence: Moderate

Conservation

This species is identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) under the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). SGCN-classified species include both those with and without legal protection status under the Federal or State Endangered Species programs, as well as game species with low populations. The WDFW SWAP is part of a nationwide effort by all 50 states and five U.S. territories to develop conservation action plans for fish, wildlife and their natural habitats—identifying opportunities for species' recovery before they are imperiled and more limited.
This species is identified as a Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitat and Species Program. Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, and/or recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. The PHS program is the agency's main means of sharing fish and wildlife information with local governments, landowners, and others who use it to protect priority habitats for land use planning.