IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

Comprehensive Description

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Diagnosis: Oophaga arborea can be distinguished from other species of Oophaga by their spot pattern, call, and dentition. Although a few other Oophaga species exhibit similar spotting, O. arborea differs in the yellow color of their spots. These frogs exhibit raised spots, which do not occur in any other dendrobatid. The call, although similar, differs slightly from that of other Oophaga in its frequency, speed of note repetition, and the duration of single notes. Lastly, O. arborea lacks maxillary teeth, differentiating the species from its most similar looking relative, Ameerega maculata, by (Myers et al. 1984).

Description: Adults are small to medium sized, 20-22 mm in snout to vent length. Spots are normally smaller than the eye and are relatively round in shape. Spots may vary in size and arrangement, and some individuals’ spots are raised rather than flat. O. arborea lack both hand webbing and teeth. The iris of the eye is brown in color. Adult males have vocal slits on both sides and a moderately distensible vocal sac. When collapsed, the vocal sacs tend to form a pair of parallel folds on base of neck. The skin of the throat and chest is slightly wrinkled or granular, but the skin of the undersides of the belly and thighs are coarsely rugose. Hands are large, averaging about 30% of the snout vent length. The finger discs are expanded on all fingers except the first finger. The third finger disk is about 1.6-2.0 mm wider than neighboring fingers. The second finger is always longer than the first and when appressed, the first finger is approximately 3/4 the length of the second. The undersides of the fingers have tubercles that are low with rounded surfaces (Myers et al. 1984). The hindlegs are exceptionally short, unable to reach the eye. The inner and outer tubercles of the toes are the same size, but the outer one is more prominent (Myers et al. 1984).

Coloration: O. arborea has a uniform base color of either brown or black skin with bright yellow spotting dorsally and ventrally

Variation: O. arborea varies in base skin color from uniform brown to black as well as in the location and size of the spots (Myers et al. 1984).

Most juveniles are similar to adults in coloration and pattern. However, juveniles vary in the intensity of spots and may have a greenish tinge to the base color (Myers et al. 1984).

Tadpole Morphology: Tadpoles have a spiracle sinistral, and medial anus. Preserved specimens are uniformly grayish brown and have a light brown tail covered in white flecks. They have keratinized mouth-parts present (Myers et al. 1984).

Species Authority: The first specimen was collected by Victor Martinez in 1981 (Myers et al, 1984).

Phylogeny: The species is believed to be a part of the histrionicus or pumilio species groups due to the morphology of tadpoles and the male’s call. The similar calls of all the species of histrionics serves as a distinct trait, forming a monophyletic unit. (Myers et al. 1984).

Taxonomy/Synonymy: The species was first described as Dendrobates arboreus by Myers et al. (1984), but was placed in the genus Oophaga in 1994 (Bauer 1994).

Etymology: The word arboreus is of Latin origin and translates to “relating to trees”. The name was given because of the generally arboreal tendency of the species (Myers et al. 1984). In 2011, the genus Dendrobates was subdivided into seven genera, including the new genus Oophaga by Brown et al. (2011).


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