Two New Species of Glassfrogs Discovered in Ecuador

by johnsmith

An international team of researchers has described two new species of the frog genus Hyalinobatrachium from the Ecuadorian Andes.

The Mashpi glassfrog (Hyalinobatrachium mashpi), female. Image credit: Jaime Culebras.

The Mashpi glassfrog (Hyalinobatrachium mashpi), female. Image credit: Jaime Culebras.

The glassfrogs, or glass frogs, are members of the amphibian family Centrolenidae, with more than 150 species.

These frogs are found in the Neotropics, from southern Mexico, through Central America, into the northern half of South America, and along the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil and the extreme northeastern margin of Argentina.

Their diversity is concentrated in the northern Andes, which hosts more than half (83 taxa) of the species in the family.

The glassfrogs are generally small, ranging from 2-7.5 cm (0.8-3 inches) in length. While the general background coloration of most glassfrogs is primarily green, the abdominal skin of some species is translucent.

Within Centrolenidae, species of the genus Hyalinobatrachium are particularly charismatic due to their peculiar morphological and behavioral traits.

All Hyalinobatrachium have ventral transparency and extended paternal care — a derived trait that has evolved at least twice in the family.

The two new species in the genus live in relatively unexplored and isolated localities of the Ecuadorian Andes.

One of them, named the Mashpi glassfrog (Hyalinobatrachium mashpi), is only known from the following localities in the Mashpi river basin, Pichincha province.

The second, named the Nouns’ glassfrog (Hyalinobatrachium nouns), is known from Río Manduriacu Reserve and Bosque Protector Los Cedros at elevations of 1,177-1,420 m (3,862-4,659 feet) above sea level.

The Nouns’ glassfrog (Hyalinobatrachium nouns), male. Image credit: Jaime Culebras.

The Nouns’ glassfrog (Hyalinobatrachium nouns), male. Image credit: Jaime Culebras.

“Both species are distinguished from other glassfrogs mainly by their dorsal coloration (i.e., dorsum lime green with small light yellow spots, head usually with interorbital bar) and transparent pericardium (i.e., the heart is visible through the ventral skin),” said lead author Dr. Juan Guayasamin, a researcher with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his colleagues.

“They exhibit a high morphological similarity (i.e., cryptic) and occur within relatively close geographical proximity (closest aerial distance = 18.9 km, or 11.7 miles).”

The scientists recommend that both new species be listed as Endangered, following IUCN criteria.

“These new species provide another example of cryptic diversity in the Andes — further evidence that the region fosters much more biodiversity than we have the resources to catalog,” they said.

“Threatened by mining and other exploitative industries, these glassfrogs and many other yet-to-be-discovered Andean species highlight the dire need for effective conservation measures, especially in northwestern Ecuador.”

The team’s paper was published in the journal PeerJ.


J.M. Guayasamin et al. 2022. Two new glassfrogs (Centrolenidae: Hyalinobatrachium) from Ecuador, with comments on the endangered biodiversity of the Andes. PeerJ 10: e13109; doi: 10.7717/peerj.13109

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