Pine barrens treefrog
Hyla andersonii
ITIS Species Code:   173509         NatureServ Element Code:   AAABC02010
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

0.2 %
15.9 %
41.6 %
0.0 %
1.1 %
9.5 %
27.1 %
4.2 %
0.0 %
0.2 %
0.2 %
< 0.1 %
0.0 %

22.9 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

< 0.1 %
5.1 %
13.4 %
0.0 %
0.3 %
3.1 %
8.8 %
1.3 %
0.0 %
< 0.1 %
< 0.1 %
< 0.1 %
67.7 %

7.4 %

Nonbreeding habitat generally is in pine-oak areas adjacent to breeding habitat. Activity is terrestrial and arboreal. Important egg-laying and larval habitats include open cedar swamps and sphagnaceous, shrubby, acidic, seepage bogs on hillsides below pine-oak ridges. Intolerant of closed-canopy conditions.

In the Southeast, typical habitat is characterized by the topography, soils, and vegetation of the Carolina Sandhills, with pocosin or evergreen shrub swamps established along seeps and small streams within the surrounding longleaf pine-oak forest (Noble and Noble 1923, Wright and Wright 1949, Gosner and Black 1957, Bullard 1965, Means and Moler 1978, Tardell et al. 1981). Means and Moler (1978) suggested that adults tend to be found more often in drier shrub bogs, while larvae were more often found in wetter herb bogs. The best habitat appears to occur where these two types of communities are juxtaposed.

In North Carolina, occurrences are almost exclusively in or near pocosins or shrub bogs with dense growth of pines, bays, and various ericaceous shrubs (Palmer 1977). Bullard (1965) captured HYLA ANDERSONII in Carolina bays and pocosins dominated by PINUS SEROTINA, QUERCUS LAEVIS, MAGNOLIA VIRGINIANA, GORDONIA LASIANTHUS, CLETHRA ALNIFOLIA, and ACER RUBRUM. Frogs were taken either in the bays themselves or in the adjacent transition zone between wetland and adjacent upland. Most frogs were collected in MAGNOLIA and GORDONIA and none were in pines.

Garton and Sill (1979) described breeding habitat in South Carolina as low vegetation with dense growth of SPHAGNUM mosses, similar to those described by Means and Longden (1976) in Florida. The largest population (some 50 calling males) in the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge was found in a sphagnaceous seepage slope comprising about 5 acres. The area was characterized by scattered pines and sweet bay (MAGNOLIA VIRGINIANA), with dense growths of pitcher plants (SARRACENIA FLAVA) and cinnamon fern (OSMUNDA CINNAMOMEA). Calling males were also heard in areas of grass and shrubs along the borders of pools and seeps and in dense stands of evergreen shrubs (LYONIA LUCIDA, PERSEA BORBONIA, ILEX GLABRA, and others) located along small stream courses in sphagnaceous areas. Common associates in South Carolina include pinewoods treefrog (HYLA FEMORALIS), gray treefrog (HYLA VERSICOLOR and/or HYLA CHRYSOCELIS), and the southern cricket frog (ACRIS GRYLLUS).

Cely and Sorrow (1986) found that occurrences in South Carolina appearred to be restricted to the Fall Line Sandhills at elevations ranging between 61 and 122 m. Characteristic vegetation was longleaf pine (PINUS PALUSTRIS) and various scrub oaks (QUERCUS LAEVIS, QUERCUS MARILANDICA, QUERCUS INCANA) on the ridges and upper slopes and hardwoods, primarily ACER RUBRUM, LIRIODENDRON TULIPIFERA, and NYSSA SYLVATICA var. BIFLORA) in the stream bottoms. The general aspect of 18 inhabited localities was evergreen shrub- herb bog found along small black water tributaries, sometimes upstream from extensive hardwood bottomland forest. The overstory was typically sparse (basal area ranging from 0 to 13.5 sq m/ha; mean = 3.0 sq m/ha). Canopy height ranged from 0 to 28 m (mean = 12 m) with overstory tree density ranging from 0 to 575 trees/ha (mean = 118/ha). Red maple occurred at the greatest densities, but yellow poplar had the greatest frequency of occurrence (44%), followed by red maple (39%) and dead trees (mostly pine) (39%). The understory (stems 2.5 to 7.5 cm dbh) averaged 3 m tall with an average density of 2290 stems/ha. Red maple and sweet bay (MAGNOLIA VIRGINIANA) were the understory dominants. The shrub layer (stems < 2.5 cm dbh) averaged 1.4 m tall and between 50 to 75% total coverage. CLETHRA ALNIFOLIA, SMILAX spp.), and ACER RUBRUM were the dominant shrub layer species. OSMUNDA CINNAMOMEA was prevalent throughout the woody areas. The herb bog was dominated by sedges and grasses, notably beakrush (RHYNCHOSPORA spp.), broomsedge (ANDROPOGON spp.), and needlerush (JUNCUS spp.). SPHAGNUM mosses occurred at roughly half the sites. Cely and Sorrow (1986) concluded that HYLA ANDERSONII occurred across a broad spectrum of shrub-herb bog community types with great variability in measured habitat parameters.

HYLA ANDERSONII is often encountered in disturbed sites associated with utility rights-of-way and recent clearcuts (Tardell et al. 1981, Cely and Sorrow 1986). Seven (39%) of the sites described by Cely and Sorrow (1986) were in gas, powerline, or railroad rights-of-way which crossed evergreen wetlands and in which periodic maintenance had created a herb bog community. Eight of 18 surveyed sites (44%) were associated with recent clearcuts or heavily logged areas. Two sites were found on the edges of beaver ponds. One site was actively managed for HYLA ANDERSONII using prescribed burning.

During a four-year survey in the South Carolina Sandhills, Cely and Sorrow (1986) found calling males in atypical habitats, including temporary habitats created by exceptionally heavy rainfall, but persistent populations (i.e., sites occupied for at least two years) were generally associated with permanent open water of large stream drainages.

Breeding has been reported in small pools, streams, and ditches (Gerhardt 1974). Eggs sink individually to the bottom (Noble and Noble 1923). Breeding habitats are typically characterized by seepage areas, or small streams, with dense SPHAGNUM cover. Herbaceous or shrubby areas are preferred, but densely forested areas do not support the species (Means and Longden 1976, Garton and Sill 1979). Palmer (1977) reported that adults kept for several years in a large outdoor pen failed to deposit eggs.

Freda and Gonzalez (1986) described breeding season habitat in their New Jersey Pine Barrens study site as a small seepage stream, dammed by a sand road, and choked with vegetation (SPHAGNUM spp. and UTRICULARIA spp.). Water in the seep was 0.01 to 0.5 m deep. Vegetation within 20 m of the seep consisted of dense blueberry (VACCINIUM spp.) and a ground cover of sundews (DROSERA spp.). Adjacent uplands supported dwarf pitch pine (PINUS RIGIDA) and scrub oaks (QUERCUS spp.).

Breeding habitat in the panhandle of Florida is characterized by acid hillside seepage bogs with copious SPHAGNUM mosses and dense woody vegetation (dominantly CLIFTONIA MONOPHYLLA and CYRILLA RACEMIFLORA) (Means and Longden 1976).

Montanucci and Wilson (1980) and Freda and Morin (1984) summarized the large amount of information available about the vegetation surrounding breeding colonies. The 40 sites described in New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida typically had an open canopy with a shrub understory averaging 1.6 m high and a stem density of 32 stems/sq m (approximately 50% foliage coverage). The overstory density ranged from 0 to 112 stems/sq m (mean = 26 stems/100 sq m). The herbaceous zone contained as many as 22 species of plants (mean = 18.8 species). Breeding sites can best be characterized by the presence of a shrub or herbaceous zone, and it appears that the structure of the vegetation rather than species composition best determines site suitability (see also Means and Mohler 1979, Cely and Sorrow 1982).

Breeding ponds within the wetland matrix described by Freda and Morin (1984) were typically small (5 to 10 m diameter), sphagnum-filled depressions. Ponds that significantly deviated from this pattern supported few or no calling males and males were never heard calling from lakes and only infrequently from streams, although large numbers were heard in associated back water areas. Zampella (1994) pointed out that treefrogs were typically found in small, ephemeral ponds, rather than in larger water bodies.

In May and early June in New Jersey, males called nightly from the ground near the edge of open water (Freda and Gonzalez 1986). In late June, males called from low branches, 1 to 10 m from open water. July calling stations were usually in excess of 20 m from open water. In late July, some males called during the day and frogs remained greater than 100 m from water. Mid-day locations of tagged frogs were on the ground (33% of locations), buried in leaf litter under scrub oaks (5%), on a scrub oak leaf (23%), or on a pitch pine or oak branch (39%). In Florida, frogs generally called from shrubs and low growing trees at heights between 1 and 1.5 m.

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
87 Pocosin Woodlands and Shrublands Includes pond pine woodland, low pocosin and high pocosin shrub dominated areas. Canebrakes and bay forests may be present. Pond Pine Woodlands, Peatland Canebrake, Small Depression Pocosin
67 Wet Longleaf or Slash Pine Savanna Wet flatwoods and pine savannas, typically dominated by longleaf pines, but slash or pond pines may be the dominant pines. Wet Pine Flatwoods
97 Mesic Longleaf Pine Longleaf pine woodlands without a major scrub oak component. Slash or loblolly pines may be present as well. Mesic Pine Flatwoods
42 Xeric Longleaf Pine Sandhills including a range of longleaf pine density from predominantly wiregrass, scrub oak dominated to true longleaf pine woodland. This does not include mesic or saturated flatwood types. Xeric Sandhill Scrub, Pine/Scrub Oak Sandhill, Coastal Fringe Sandhill
46 Xeric Oak - Pine Forests Mixed forest dominated by yellow pines with white or northern red oaks co-dominating. Pine Oak Heath
232 Xeric Pine-Hardwood Woodlands and Forests Mixed forest dominated by yellow pines with drier oaks including southern red, post, and chestnut oaks. Dry Oak Hickory Forest
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Exclude brackish and salt water habitats.
Gosner, K. L., and I. H. Black. 1967. Hyla andersonii. Cat. Am. Amph. Rep. 54.1-54.2.

Gerhardt, H. C. 1974. Behavioral isolation of the treefrogs HYLA CINEREA and HYLA ANDERSONII. Amer. Midl. Nat. 91:424-33.

Means, D. B. and C. J. Longden. 1976. Aspects of the biology and zoogeography of the pine barrens treefrog (HYLA ANDERSONII) in northern Florida. Herpetologica. 32:117-30.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 1980. Selected vertebrate endangered species of the seacoast of the United States--the pine barrens treefrog. FWS/OBS-80/01.6.

Hulmes, D., P. Hulmes, and R. Zappalorti. 1981. Notes on the ecology and distribution of the pine barrens treefrog, Hyla andersonii, in New Jersey. Bull. New York Herpetol. Soc. 17(1):2-19.

Tardell, J. H., R. C. Yates and D. H. Schiller. 1981. New records and habitat observations of HYLA ANDERSONII Baird (Anura:Hylidae) in Chesterfield and Marlboro Counties, South Carolina. Brimleyana 6:153-8.

Wright, A. H. and A. A. Wright. 1949. Handbook of frogs and toads of the United States and Canada. Comstock Publishing Company, Ithica, NY. 640 pp.

Garton, J. S. and B. L. Sill. 1979. The status of the pine barrens treefrog, HYLA ANDERSONII Baird, in South Carolina. Pp. 131-2 in D. M. Forsythe and W. B. Ezell Jr. (eds.). Proceedings of the First South Carolina Endangered Species Symposium, South Carolina.

Means, D. B., and P. E. Moler. 1979. The pine barrens treefrog:fire, seepage bogs, and management implications. Pages 77-83 in R. R. Odum and L. Landers, eds. Proceedings.. Georgia Game & Fish Div. Tech. Bull. WL4, Atlanta.

Gosner, K. L. and I. H. Black. 1957. Larval development in New Jersey Hylidae. Copeia. 1:31-6.

Means, D. B. 1983. The enigmatic pine barrens treefrog. Florida Wildlife 37:16-19.

Freda J., and P. J. Morin. 1984. Adult home range of the pine barrens treefrog (HYLA ANDERSONII) and the physical, chemical, and ecological characteristics of its preferred breeding ponds. Final Report to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Morin, P. J., et al. 1990. Ecology and breeding phenology of larval HYLA ANDERSONII:the disadvantages of breeding late. Ecology 71:1590-1598.

Bullard, A. J. 1965. Additional records of the treefrog HYLA ANDERSONII from the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Herpetologica. 21:154-5.

Martof, B. S., W. M. Palmer, J. R. Bailey, and J. R. Harrison, III. 1980. Amphibians and reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 264 pp.

Cely, J. E., and J. A. Sorrow, Jr. 1986. Distribution and habitat of HYLA ANDERSONII in South Carolina. J. Herpetol. 20:102-104.

Freda, J., and R. J. Gonzalez. 1986. Daily movements of the treefrog, HYLA ANDERSONI. J. Herpetol. 20:469-471.

Noble, G. K. and R. C. Noble. 1923. The Anderson treefrog (HYLA ANDERSONII Baird):observations on its habits and life history. Zoologica 11:416-55.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853