Three Pristimantis Frog Species Discovered in the Peruvian Andes

August 28, 2017

Three new species of Pristimantis frogs that live high in the mountain forests of the Peruvian Andes mountains have been discovered and described by researchers with the University of Michigan, Illinois Wesleyan University, and researchers from the Czech Republic and Peru.

“Our findings suggest that the Pui Pui Protected Forest houses unique biological communities containing species found nowhere else,"Illinois Wesleyan University’s Edgar Lehr, the first author of the paper,"Three new species of Pristimantis (Amphibia, Anura, Craugastoridae) from upper montane forests and high Andean grasslands of the Pui Pui Protected Forest in central Peru" that describes the new species, told the University of Michigan.

"One reason for this is that the area has a steep topographic gradient including a broad array of habitats and local microclimates that contribute to high amphibian species diversity."

The three frogs belong to the genus Pristimantis. More than 500 frog species are in this genus, which is the most diverse in the tropical Andes. They are part of the family Craugastoridae and are land-breeding frogs. There is no free living tadpole stage in this amphibians, but rather, they are hatched as froglets.

The new frog species include:

  • The Pui Pui rubber frog (Pristimantis puipui) was found in a single location in the center of the Pui Pui Protected Forest at an elevation of 12,762 feet. The name of this frog, phi phi, translates from the Quechua language to “eyes of water,” named after the numerous lakes in the forest.
  • The hill dweller rubber frog (Pristimantis bounides) was discovered in two areas at elevations of 10,991 feet and 11,362 feet.  Its name translates to dweller of the hills, which the scientists say refers to the mountain forests in which the frog was discovered.
  • The Humboldt’s rubber frog, (Pristimantis humboldti)  was found at an elevation of 10,886 feet and was named after German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.

"Our team has now described five new species of frogs from this region, with several more to come in the near future," Rudolf von May, a postdoctoral researcher in the Rabosky Lab at the U-M Museum of Zoology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, told the University of Michigan.

"These discoveries demonstrate the need for further scientific exploration of such Andean habitats," he said. "While the Pui Pui Protected Forest was established in 1985, virtually no biological surveys were conducted in the park for nearly three decades, and the potential for additional discoveries is enormous."

An abstract of the paper, "Three new species of Pristimantis (Amphibia, Anura, Craugastoridae) from upper montane forests and high Andean grasslands of the Pui Pui Protected Forest in central Peru" can be found on the Zootaxa website

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