UA researchers discover new frog species
UDEA/DICYT The discovery was announced last week in Herpetologica, a journal published by the Herpetologist's League, an international organization devoted to the study and conservation of amphibians and reptiles.
This species of frog has been spotted primarily along the banks of streams in several rural areas around Medellin and other regions of Antioquia.
Although several sightings have been reported over the past 2 years, researchers say this species has long been confused with a frog of the Hyloscirtus larinipygion group which is native to northern Ecuador.
“The new species differs from other species of the H. larinipygion group by its color pattern and morphological structure,” said Mauricio Rivera of the Herpetology Group at the University of Antioquia Department of Biology.
Researchers say this species is found mainly at elevations ranging from 2200 to 3200 meters (7,218 – 10,498 ft) above sea level. According to Rivera, Colombia’s rich biodiversity, especially amphibians, is largely due to the isolation afforded by the Andes Mountains.
According to biologists, speciation is the evolutionary process through which new species arise from a single ancestral species. “When a species is restricted to a specific area, reproduction occurs only between members of the same species, hence the species become endemic to that particular area or habitat,” Rivera said.
Hyloscirtus Antioquia species is 1.6 – 2.3 inches in length, has brown skin with yellow spots and only comes out at night. According to Rivera, the type locality for this species is the district of San Felix, north Medellin.
Equipped with flashlights, cameras and microphones, researchers comb through the riverbanks from 6 pm to 2 am in search of the frog’s distinctive call, which is often confused with the noise of running water. “We have been able to identify up to 4 individuals of this species in a single night,” Rivera said.
The research team wants to determine whether the nuptial pads present on the fingers of male frogs influence their sexual behavior. Researchers speculate that nuptial pads play an important role during the mating season.
Researchers now focus on studying the behavior of this species in order to develop strategies to preserve its lifestyle.
This species was dubbed Hyloscirtus Antioquia, as this is native to the Colombian department with the same name, which is one of the most amphibian-rich regions in Latin America. Moreover, the discovery coincided with Antioquia's independence bicentennial celebration.