Cute, crafty, and brightly patterned with yellow and black chevrons! The Limosa harlequin frog is a terrestrial species endemic to Central Panama that live in moist, tropical Atlantic forests. In the wild, you could once spot this species among the dark rocks or mossy patches on the banks of streams. It is here, in the fast-flowing rainforest streams that enthusiastic males call and use their characteristic hand-waving behavior to signal females or warn competing males to steer clear. If successful, a male attracts a female and embraces her in a behavior known as amplexus. They laytheir eggs in fast-flowing streams for good reasons. The shallow, swiftly flowing water protects the eggs and tadpoles from potential predators and once they emerge as tadpoles the tadpoles cling tightly to rocks using the suction disks on their bellies while they graze on diatoms and other algae that grow on stones in these clear, oxygen-rich environments.
This species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Atelopus frog species’ have been hit hardest by the growing chytridomycosis epidemic. While deforestation of habitats for agricultural use and infrastructural development, stream sedimentation, and water pollution are also serious threats to Atelopus limosus, much of their range is in the Chagres National Park and scientists attribute the recent disappearances of this species to the emergence of amphibian chytrid fungus. Thankfully, the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project has brought the endangered species into captivity and successfully hosts a very fruitful breeding population – no small feat at all!
Did you know? The limosa harlequin frog has two color forms; the brown form with a yellow nose and yellow fingertips mostly found at lowland sites, while the green/yellow form with black chevrons is normally found in the highlands. If you’d like to get a look at one of these amazing creatures, you can see them on exhibit at the Punta Culebra Nature Center’s Fabulous Frogs of Panama!
by Dara Wilson, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project Volunteer
Look, but don’t touch! Strawberry poison dart frogs (Oophaga pumilio) are known for their strikingly beautiful skin colors. Their bright color serves as a warning to predators that they are toxic. This type of “warning coloration” is called aposematism. In the wild Oophaga pumilio gets its toxicity from its diet of ants and termites. The frogs we maintain in captivity in our exhibit Fabulous Frogs of Panama are fed small crickets and fruit flies. This change in diet eradicates any trace of poison in these frogs when they are raised in captivity
Strawberry poison dart frogs are generally a small species, about 0.75 to 1.5 inches (20 to 40 mm) in length. They are also mostly diurnal, and can be heard calling in the flooded forest.There are many poison frogs in the Dendrobatidae family with slightly different distributional ranges that can be found in Central America and northern South America. The species Oophaga pumilio are found in Mesoamerican countries and Panama.
Did you know? An Oophaga pumilio look alike was recently discovered in Panama by STRI scientist Cesar Jaramillo with Abel Batista and Marcos Ponce (UNACHI) and Andrew Crawford (Universidad de los Andes). This new species Andinobates geminisae is still being described. Click here for more information.
The rainforest rocket frog is a small frog with a mighty leap! This species of frog occurs in humid lowlands from Costa Rica to Panama. It is a diurnal species with a wide distribution, is tolerant of varying degrees of habitat change, and has been well recorded in a number of protected areas. For these reasons, there is little concern over the continued survival of this species. However, they are still threatened, like most amphibians, by general habitat loss caused by deforestation.
Silverstoneia flotator consume a multiplicity of small arthropods. In the Punta Culebra Nature Center frog exhibit, Fabulous Frogs of Panama, the Rainforest Rocket Frog eats small fruit flies. Males are territorial and will wrestle with other males to defend their territories (Savage 2002). There is currently one male in the exhibit and five more rocket frogs will be introduced in the upcoming weeks. So there are sure to be some interesting encounters in the exhibit!
Did you know? You can distinguish a mature male Silverstoneia flotator by its swollen middle finger. Males also have a pale grey throat color, while females have white-colored throats. The female frog lays her eggs in the leaf litter of a male’s territory, and when they hatch the male transports the tadpoles to nearby streams (Savage 2002). This is just one of many diverse reproductive strategies seen in Panamanian frogs. Stay tuned for next week’s #frogfriday to continue learning about the frogs of Panama!
White spotted slimy salamander (Plethodon cylindraceus) Photo: Brian Gratwicke SCBI
White-spotted slimy salamanders are large, attractive, boldly marked lungless salamanders from the Appalachian region of the United States. they range from Maryland to South Carolina and have a thick tail and secrete a sticky white substance when handled, giving them the group the reputation of being ‘slimy’ salamanders. These terrestrial salamanders are found under large rotting logs. They have an elaborate courtship dance where the male deposits a spermatophore on the ground that is then taken up by the female, the female lays her fertilized eggs in underground cavities where she guards them.Some authors have noted worrying declines of this species, but they are still widely distributed and can be abundant in places. They are listed as ‘least concern’ by the IUCN.
The yellow tree frog (Dendropsophus microcephalus) Photo: Brian Gratwicke Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Yellow treefrogs are abundant and widely distributed in lowlands from Belize to South America. This adaptable species prefers highly disturbed agricultural areas flooded grasslands and ponds and is classified by the IUCN as least concern because their populations seem to be stable or increasing in places.
These tiny frogs call from small ponds and swamps, where males aggressively joust for the best calling sites where they emit an insect-like ‘creek-eek-eek-ekk’ sound. If you have seen this awesome little critter send you photos to i-naturalist so we can improve the known distribution map. http://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/65373-Dendropsophus-microcephalus
The golden mantella is a critically endangered frog from Madagascar Photo: Brian Gratwicke Smithsonian’s National Zoo
The golden mantella, Mantella aurantiaca, is yet another of the world’s critically endangered golden colored frogs. It comes from Madagascar where it is associated with screwpine forests and has a tiny range of 10 square km. Popular in the pet trade, this species is threatened by an unsustainable demand from hobbyists and was listed on CITES appendix II listed species in 1995 to limit the trade. In 2000 all Mantella species from Madagascar were also added to the list. Appendix II permits limited trade and Madagascar has an export quota for 550 animals each year. In addition to unsustainable harvest this beautiful little creature is threatened by habitat loss, including loss of breeding habitat due to gold mining. More than 1,500 golden mantellas are now managed by 50 zoos and aquaria around the world, and an in-country conservation strategy has been developed that you can read here.
A beautiful little reed frog (Hyperolius benguellensis)
This easily overlooked, almost translucent little frog can be found in ditches and ponds in Southern Africa. The males perch like little green jewels on reeds on the water’s edge. They spar with other males on flimsy stalks for prime breeding spots and advertise their presence to females with a short almost insect-like rasping rattle. If successful at attracting a female, the amplectant pair will lay clutches of up to 200 gelatinous eggs on vegetation just below the water’s surface.
The taxonomy of this group of small, green reed frogs can be confusing, but the pale paravertebral lines in addition to the dorsolateral stripes are one characteristic trait of this species. The frog is tolerant of disturbance and can be found in agricultural areas where it can be very abundant and it is listed by the IUCN as Least Concern.
Now that the rains have set in, it is tough to find a freshwater ditch or puddle in Panama that does not have the tell-tail ‘cuieeeeeee-chuck’ calls of male túngara frogs hoping to attract a mate. If you live in Panama, follow this distinctive call to its source and you are likely to find an otherwise unremarkable, warty little creature putting on the performance of his life. This tiny brown comedian turns his whole body into an inflatable pool-toy on the water, exuding air from his swollen body into a huge gular pouch and back again.
Frogs that can avoid the attention of voracious frog-eating bats drawn to their calls pair with females and whip up the egg mass into a stiff white foam nest, using their hind legs like egg-beaters. The foam protects developing embryos from dehydration, sunlight and pathogens until they hatch after around 4 days. Check out this video about Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Scientist Rachel Page, who studies these little creatures and the bats that snack on them.
Tungara frogs are thankfully still thriving in the wild and are listed by the IUCN as least concern.
Photo courtesy of Brian Gratwicke. Send us your own cute frogs by uploading your photos on flickr here.
The white- lipped frog is a semi-aquatic frog found in streams, marshes, irrigated fields and gutters. It is native to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Due to its appearance in Spanish speaking areas, the frog is better known by its local Spanish name, Ranita De Labio Blanco. The frog’s name derives from its distinctive white upper lip, while the remainder of the skin typically includes shades of greenish-yellow, green, brown and black with varying spots and stripes. It has a medium size body with long limbs and un-webbed toes. While this species is currently wide spread in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it seems to be declining in the British Virgin Islands. In total, this species is fairly common and adaptable to different environmental changes. Due to these factors, the IUCN has listed the white-lipped frog as Least Concern on the Red List of Threatened Species.
The Pickersgill’s reed frog is native to South Africa, from the wetlands of the KwaZulu-Natal Province. It is a small frog with a unique color changing trait that marks its growth and development. The Pickersgill’s reed frog juveniles are light to dark brown coloring and a dorsolateral stripe. As they mature, the skin becomes bright green, yellow and white. Confined to a small area of residence, the Pickersgill’s reed frog is encountering many threats to its current habitat. Urbanization, habitat fragmentation, afforestation and pollution are among only some of the problems contributing to the decrease of this species. Due to this loss, it is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Photo Credit: Richard Boycott
Every week the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project posts a new photo of a cute frog from anywhere in the world with an interesting, fun and unique story to tell. Be sure to check back every Monday for the latest addition.