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Ten Amphibian Species Discovered in Colombia


Species of rain frog potentially new to science.

Conservation International-Colombia/Photo by Marco Rada

Ten amphibians believed to be new to science — including a spiky-skinned, orange-legged rain frog, three poison frogs and three glass frogs — have been found in Colombia’s mountainous Tacarcuna area of the Darien, near the border with Panama, Conservation International announced yesterday.

The species were discovered during a recent Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition in the area, the Washington, D.C.-based charity said in a news statement.

“This area of the Darien is isolated from the Andes Mountain range. It is recognized as a center of endemism and valuable for its high biological diversity,” CI said. “Historically it has served as a bridge for flora and fauna exchange between North and South America.”

Over a period of three weeks, the scientists identified some 60 species of amphibians, 20 reptiles and almost 120 species of birds, many of them apparently found no where else.


Harlequin frog of the Atelopus genus potentially new to science.

Conservation International-Colombia/photo by Marco Rada

The potentially new species of amphibians include three glass frogs (so called because their transparent skin can reveal internal organs), three poison frogs, one harlequin frog, two species of rain frogs, and one salamander.

In addition to the new discoveries, the expedition recorded the presence of large mammals such as Baird’s tapir, listed on the IUCN Red List as Endangered in Colombia, and four species of monkeys, including Geoffroy’s spider monkey, Geoffroy’s tamarain or red crested bare-faced tamarin, white-throated capuchin or Gorgona white-fronted campuchin and the mantled howler monkey.  They also found populations of white-lipped peccary.


Salamander (Bolitoglossa taylori) potentially new to science discovered in Colombia.

Conservation International-Colombia/photo by Marco Rada

“Without a doubt this region is a true Noah’s Ark.  The high number of new amphibian species found is a sign of hope, even with the serious threat of extinction that this animal group faces in many other regions of the country and the world,” said Jose Vicente Rodriguez-Mahecha Scientific Director of CI-Colombia.

Although the natural cover of the Darien region is currently relatively undisturbed, it faces many threats and is undergoing rapid landscape transformation, mainly due to selective wood extraction, extensive cattle ranching, illicit crop cultivation, hunting, mining and habitat fragmentation, CI said. “Between 25 and 30 percent of the natural vegetation of the area is being deforested, especially in the lowlands and alluvial plains.


Glass frog

Conservation International-Colombia/photo by Marco Rada

Results of the expedition are expected to contribute to strengthening the protected area status that applies to almost all the Colombian Darien region, and to help bring about the declaration of a new protected area in the Tacarcuna hills.  In addition, an important goal is to support initiatives that guarantee the land rights for the indigenous Emberá community of Eyakera through the creation of an Indigenous Reserve, and the development of management plans appropriate for the area and its population.

The expedition was led by herpetologists from Conservation International in Colombia and ornithologists from the Ecotrópico Foundation, with the support of the local Emberá community of Eyakera.


Species of rain frog potentially new to science.

Conservation International-Colombia/photo by Marco Rada

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