Apalachicola National Forest

Virginia Coastal Plain

Mississippi River Drainage

Graduate Student Research

Chorus Frogs (genus Pseudacris)

Frog Hybridization Lab Experiments


Apalachicola National Forest

This national forest is the largest in Florida and is one of our lab's primary research sites. We have been working in this region for nearly a decade. The ponds and fields in the photos below are ~1 hour drive from FSU.


Nigrita Fields, acidic pitcher plant bogs that are home to a massive Pseudacris nigrita population


Sympatric Pond (Pseudacris nigrita, P. ornata, and P. ocularis habitat; occasionally P. feriarum show up here to breed as well)


Cypress Swamp (Pseudacris feriarum and P. nigrita habitat)


Florida River field site, home to an extremely large Pseudacris feriarum population


Nigrita Fields at sunset


Emily conducting signal transmission experiments in an acidic bog.

  Longleaf pine forest

Alan Lemmon standing on ecotone at interface between  cypress-gum swamp (Pseudacris feriarum habitat) and longleaf pine wetland (P. nigrita habitat) in Cypress Swamp.


Several of the fearless participants in the annual herpetofaunal survey of St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge off the coast of the Florida panhandle.

  In the Tallahassee region, even non-biologists are passionate about frogs.

An avenue of supplementary income for graduate students (this store is in the national forest).


Virginia Coastal Plain

Some of our other primary field sites are in eastern Virginia, which is at the northern extremity of the Pseudacris feriarum, P. nigrita, and P. brimleyi distributions. These taxa came into geographic contact more recently up in Virginia than in southern regions.


Sympatric Pseudacris feriarum and P. nigrita habitat at Grafton Ponds in Newport News, Virginia


Site of three sympatric trilling Pseudacris species (P. nigrita, P. feriarum, and P. brimleyi) near Wakefield, Virginia

  Prime Pseudacris habitat in eastern Virginia. This site was slightly dangerous because of the frequent trains. Note: never turn your headlight on to let the train conductor know you are in the ditch . . .

Emily looking for Pseudacris at Surrender Fields (site where the British surrendered to George Washinton in the Revolutionary War) in Colonial National Park.


Mississippi River Drainage Spring 2008

In 2008, we conducted fieldwork along the Mississippi and Ohio River floodplains in Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Indiana collecting chorus frogs and their calls. We managed to avoid being swept away by the major floods that year.

  Off-roading in a borrowed vehicle in the flooded Mississsippi River floodplain.

Peak Pseudacris breeding season is in the winter when nighttime temperatures are between 30-40 deg C. Smart herpetologists prefer warmer climes.

  Prime Pseudacris habitat north of Cairo, Illinois. This wetland is Illinois conservation land.

Living out of the car during fieldwork. We moved all this gear to the front seat each night so we could sleep in the back (Alan Lemmon shown).

  More prime Pseudacris habitat in Illinois.

Camping in the car during fieldwork. We would work until about 4am and then sleep until noon. To avoid getting wet on rainy days, we figured out how to move our gear from the front seats to the back and vice versa without getting out of the car. Oh yeah.


The severe flooding of the Mississippi River during spring 2008 drastically limited the number of roads we could explore to find frogs. They were probably all eaten by fish anyway.


Sunset on the flooded Mississippi River (that’s a road sign out there by the way)


This is our kind of town (somewhere in Tennessee).


This wetland contained a large, continuous chorus of Pseudacris feriarum.


Chrysemys picta in southern Illinois.


Overwhelmed with frogs to dissect (we collected 1000 specimens and recorded 500 frogs in 6 weeks).


The next four photos are several salamander species we encountered during Pseudacris fieldwork. These animals were either crossing the road or in the breeding ponds where we were collecting.

Ambystoma maculatum


Ambystoma texanum


Notopthalmus viridescens

  Ambystoma opacum


Graduate Student Research

Here are various photographs from graduate student research projects (mostly fieldwork).

  Alexa Warwick measuring Hyla andersonii in the field
  Alexa with an adult male Hyla andersonii
  Alexa measuring preserved Hyla andersonii specimens at the North Carolina State Museum
  Alexa recording Hyla andersonii in the field
  Alexa getting acquainted with her study organism
  Moses Michelsohn snorkeling for Pseudemys in Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida (this one is "Big Boy")
  Moses dissecting tissue from roadkill for the 2010 Dead-Thing-A-Thon
  Moses having a staring contest with a Pseudemys (he lost, by the way . . .)
  Moses handling a Cryptobranchus (hellbender salamander)
  Moses cutting bands from a gel
  Moses working hard in the lab
  Lisa Barrow (left) and Mallory Bedwell (right) in the field
  Connor Walsh and Lisa dissecting frogs
  Lisa quantifying fertilization success of frog embryos
  Lisa thinking deep thoughts in a stream near the Apalachicola National Forest
  Lisa and Mallory unloading tin on St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge to make ground cover for reptiles and amphibians
  Lisa moving more tin
  Lisa doing fieldwork in the Pacific Northwest
  Emily Lemmon and Alan Lemmon at the lab opening in summer 2009
  Brian Caudle (former lab technician)
  Brian and Moses working hard . . .
  Brian setting up the gel doc
  Alan Lemmon on a lab field trip to the Appalachian Mountains in summer 2009. Here he is holding a newly captured Cryptobranchus alleganiensis (hellbender salamander).
  Cryptobranchus alleganiensis (hellbender)
  Alexa, Moses, and Emily photographing the hellbender. Matthew Beamer is assisting.
  We corralled the hellbender for photographing
  Cryptobranchus alleganiensis (hellbender)
  Same group as above, plus David Beamer and Lisa
  Lemmon Lab graduate students Alexa, Lisa, and Moses working hard chasing hellbenders


Chorus Frogs (genus Pseudacris)

Below are photos of all members of the genus Pseudacris except two currently controversial taxa of the P. regilla species complex (P. hypochondriaca and P. sierra). For a phylogeny, click here.

  Pseudacris regilla
  Pseudacris cadaverina
  Pseudacris ocularis
  Pseudacris crucifer
  Pseudacris ornata
  Pseudacris illinoensis
  Pseudacris streckeri
  Pseudacris brachyphona
  Pseudacris brimleyi
  Pseudacris maculata
  Pseudacris clarkii
  Pseudacris nigrita
  Pseudacris fouquettei (we described this new species in 2008; for newspaper articles, click here)
  Pseudacris nigrita x fouquettei hybrid (field-caught)
  Pseudacris kalmi
  Pseudacris triseriata
  Pseudacris feriarum


Frog Hybridization Lab Experiments

To study the strength of natural selection against hybridization, we crossed two chorus frog species and raised the offspring in the lab until they reached sexual maturity (at one year). The following photographs document this experiment.


Pseudacris nigrita x P. feriarum eggs

  Pseudacris nigrita x P. feriarum tadpoles
  Low-budget graduate school hybridization experiment.
  Pseudacris nigrita x P. feriarum newly metamorphosed froglets (these are about the size of your fingernail).
  Part of our colony of juvenile and adult chorus frogs. Sphagnum moss in the containers provides moisture and hiding places and keeps the frogs happy.

Pseudacris nigrita x P. feriarum lab-raised adult.

Compare these color patterns to those of the parental species in the section "Chorus Frogs" above.

  Pseudacris nigrita x P. feriarum lab-raised adult
  Pseudacris nigrita x P. feriarum lab-raised adult
  Pseudacris nigrita x P. feriarum lab-raised adult