7 new species of frog discovered in Ecuador
October 23, 2008
Hyalinobatrachium ruedai (© Diego F. Cisneros-Heredia); Centrolene durrellorum (© Mario Yánez-Muñoz); Nymphargus cochranae (© Roy McDiarmid); and Centrolene Mariaelenae (© Jesse Delia).
The frogs belong to the Glassfrog family, a group that is endemic to tropical America and has more than 140 species, of which 40 percent are threatened with extinction due to disease and habitat loss.
Of the newly described species, six were found in eastern Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse, but least studied, parts of the country. Research suggests that deforestation may already been impacting these species.
"A study developed to predict the distribution of glassfrogs from eastern Ecuador and to estimate the impacts of deforestation shows that deforestation may have already reduced up to 40% of the distribution ranges of all studied species," writes Diego F. Cisneros-Heredia, author of an article appearing in the Froglog newsletter (number 89). "Results indicate that deforestation has intensively affected the eastern Andean foothills (300–800 m above sea level), upper montane forests and inter-Andean valleys (above 2000 m a.s.l.), and the northern Amazonian lowlands of Ecuador. Predictions suggest that almost half of the habitats suitable for Centrolene audax, Centrolene buckleyi, Centrolene mariaelenae, Cochranella flavopunctata, Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum, and Nymphargus cochranae have been deforested. These species have been reported as largely absent in historical localities and are considered threatened."
The article recommends expanding in-situ conservation efforts in critical areas.
"Habitat loss represents a significant factor that threatens the long-term conservation of amphibian populations, not just destroying natural ecosystems but greatly diminishing the capacity of species to adapt to future changes, such as climate change."
The surveys were conducted by the Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, King's College London, and Universidad San Francisco de Quito in coordination with researchers from other institutions including the U.S. Geological Survey and Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador.