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  • Writer's pictureJenna Granger

Color Tahoe’s Endangered Frog

Updated: May 19, 2021

Learn about the Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog while coloring

Grade Level:



Life Science:

  • Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning & Resilience

  • Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

  • Biodiversity & Humans

Earth Science

  • Human Impacts on Earth’s Systems

  • Natural Resources

Tools & Materials

  • Printer

  • Colored pencils, crayons or fine tipped pens

  • Scientific notebook or paper

To Do & Notice

1. Question: Why are the Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frogs endangered?

2. Make a Claim:

In your notebook answer these questions:

  • What you think affects our local frog’s habitat?

  • What predators do you think frogs have?

  • How do you think climate change might affect frogs' survival?

  • Do you think humans are causing this extinction? If yes, how?

3. Exploration:

4. Analyze & Interpret Data:

Explore these questions in your notebook:

  • What did you learn about the Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog?

  • What do you think we can do to help these frogs survive?

5. Communicate Findings:

  • Share your art with SWEP by sending us a photo of your coloring page. Post your photos on social media and tag us @sweptahoe on Instagram and/or to @swep4 on Facebook. Be sure to hashtag and follow #SWEPsnippets. If you cannot post directly yourself, send your photos or video to SWEP (

What’s Going On

Fun Facts about the Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog:

  • The Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog is a hearty frog that can survive high-altitude freezing winters.

  • These frogs spend their winters hibernating at the bottom of frozen ponds and lakes.

  • Adult frogs have a mix of brown and yellow coloring on their upper (dorsal) body, but can also be grey, red, or greenish-brown, usually with dark spots. Their bellies and legs are often yellow.

  • The coloration and spots on these frogs allow them to be camouflaged in lichen and moss.

  • If disturbed or threatened, Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frogs can produce a distinctive mink- or garlic-like odor to ward off predators and other animals.

  • The mountain yellow-legged frog was once the most abundant amphibian in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

  • They can make a clicking sound in and out of the water. (See the “Going Further” section below to learn how set your ringtone to the sound of the Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged!)

  • These yellow-legged frogs eat a variety of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and tadpoles. They may also consume dead frogs and their own eggs.

  • Typical habitat includes lakes, ponds, marshes, meadows, and streams at high elevations.

  • These frogs are an important part of the ecosystem as predators and prey.

What is threatening the Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog?

  • The Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog has been listed as an endangered species since 2014.

  • This frog is largely absent from a significant part of its historic habitat.

  • Environmental changes from drought and climate change, disease (infectious chytrid fungus), and habitat degradation due to livestock grazing and pesticides.

  • Another major threat to these frogs is the introduced, non-native trout that feed on tadpoles and young frogs.

  • Studies show that populations of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs have declined by almost 70 percent.

  • If a body of water used for breeding dries up for just one season (due to not enough snow melt to fill the lake or pond), three to four generations of tadpoles will be destroyed.

How can we help these frogs survive?

Become an advocate for frogs:

  • Use your voice: Talk about why frogs are important with your friends, family & community members. (Watch the “Disappearing Frogs” TedED Video linked below for more information.)

  • Use your art: Share your coloring page or other artwork with your friends, family & community members and let them know about the Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog and what is threatening them.

  • Support organizations: the Yosemite Conservancy who is doing work to improve habitats for these frogs.

  • Reduce your carbon footprint: (learn more in our Carbon Footprint Snippet) as climate change is directly affecting the habitat of these frogs.


  • Learn about why frogs are important, what is harming them and what you can do to help in this TedED video.

Going Further

Thank you to our many partners for supporting student's science, sustainability and outdoor learning experiences.

Please review SWEP's Terms of Use prior to using this resource.


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