Friday 3 April 2015

Robber Frogs from the mountains of western Mexico.

Robber Frogs of the genus Eleutherodactylus are found from Texas to Guatemala and Belize and across the islands of the Caribbean. The genus was formerly the most specious of any genus of Vertebrate Animals (i.e. it contained more species than any other Vertebrate genus), but a recent review split it into several different genera, and divided the remaining members of the genus into five subgenera; Syrrhophus, which includes species from North and Central America as well as from Cuba, and four other subgenera from Caribbean Islands.

In a paper published in the journal ZooTaxa on 28 January 2015, Jacobo Reyes-Valasco of the Department of Biology at the University of Texas at Arlington, Ivan Ahumada-Carrillo of the Centro Universitario de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias, Timothy Burkhardt of Tucson, Arizona and Thomas Devitt of the Department of Integrative Biology at The University of Texas at Austin, describe two new species of Eleutherodactylus from the mountains of Jalisco and Colima States in western Mexico.

The first new species is named Eleutherodactylus grunwaldi, in honour of the German-Mexican naturalist Christoph Grünwald who collected the first specimen of this species. The species is described from nine adult males and a young adult of indeterminate sex collected in the Sierra de Manantlán in Colima and Jalisco States. These are large for members of the genus Eleutherodactylus, with the adult males reaching 28.4 – 32.4 mm in length. They have smooth skin, dark grey with a blotchy green and yellow pattern on their backs and a white underside; their eyes are copper green.

Adult male Eleutherodactylus grunwaldi collected at an altitude of 1329 m in the Municipality of Minatitlán in Colima State, Mexico. Reyes-Valasco et al. (2015).

The species was found living on limestone outcrops in deciduous tropical Pine-Oak forests, at altitudes of 1300-2000 in the Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve in Colima, but as low as 800 m in the Grutas de Toxín in Jalisco. It is likely that it is more widely distributed in the Sierra de Manantlán and may also be present within the Sierra de Cacoma and Sierra de Talpa. Most of the specimens were collected at the start of the rainy season (i.e. June to August) when the males were calling, though one specimen was collected from a cave in the dry season (February), where other members of the species were also observed. The Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve is increasingly threatened by iron ore mining, which is known to have destroyed important localities for other species in the area.

The first location where Eleutherodactylus grunwaldi collected in the Municipality of Minatitlán in Colima State, Mexico. Reyes-Valasco et al. (2015).

The second new species described is named Eleutherodactylus wixarika, in honour of the Wixárika (or Huicholes) people, who formerly occupied the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Durango and San Luis Potosí, but who are now restricted to the Sierra Huichol Mountains of Jalisco State, where the species was discovered. The species is described from three males collected at Bajío de los Amoles in the Municipality of Mezquitic. These are 21.2 – 24.5 mm in length and red or reddish orange in colour with dark green, brown or black blotches and a grey underside with white spots.

Male specimen of Eleutherodactylus wixarika collected at an altitude of 2467 m at Bajío de los Amoles in the Municipality of Mezquitic. Reyes-Valasco et al. (2015).

All of the specimens were collected on a single day in July (at the beginning of the rainy season), when they were calling. Although collected only from a single location in the Sierra Huichol Mountains it is likely that this species is also found in other mountain ranges in Jalisco, Zacatecas, Nayarit and Durango states. However the area where the species was found contains some of the last remaining old growth forest in the Sierra Madre Occidental (only about 0.65% of the original forest of this region remains), and this forest is under threat from logging, mining, conversion to agriculture and the activities of drug cartels, all of which present a threat to both the wildlife of the region and the traditional lifestyle of the Wixárika people.

Locality where Eleutherodactylus wixarika collected at Bajío de los Amoles in the Municipality of Mezquitic. Reyes-Valasco et al. (2015).

See also…

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