Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Atelopus coynei is a relatively small harlequin frog, with females growing up to a length of 32 mm and males to 23 mm. The snout of A. coynei projects beyond the lower jaw, creating a sharp ninety-degree angle above the nostril when viewed in lateral profile. Atelopus coynei has a body wider than the head, its head is longer than wide. The laterally open nostrils are located along the line between the anterior margin of orbit to tip of snout, approximately a third of the distance from the snout. Viewed from above, the corner of the eyelids diverge from a point behind the nostrils to immediately anterior of the orbits after which they diverge more strongly. The canthus rostralis is roundish, with a subtle depression at the loreal region. The interorbital space in A. coynei is broader than the upper eyelid and the tympanum is obscured. The skin on A. coynei's head is smooth but can have sparse, fine granulations. The skin of the dorsum is granulated and exhibits twin ridges near the parotoid area. A. coynei has no dorsolateral folds, however, the venter and sides exhibit plate-like folds, with small, highly distinct folds at the neck and throat becoming less distinct and larger as they progress toward the cloaca. The forearms of this species are thick. The first finger digit is virtually entombed in fleshy, thick webbing. The other finger digits are webbed basally with lateral fringing. Hindlimbs of A. coynei are long, with heels that overlap slightly when the tibiofibulaes are held away from the body at a 90-degree angle. The hind feet are fleshy with heavy webbing that reaches the tips of all but the fourth toe (Miyata 1980).

Atelopus coynei can be differentiated from other similar species by its ventral patterning, thick fleshy finger webbing that covers its first finger, and from its long hind limbs that cause its heels to overlap when the legs are positioned perpendicular to the body (Miyata 1980).

In life, the male dorsum colors vary from green backgrounds with dark brown vein-like spotting to dark brown with green blotching. In all specimens, as the green color moves to the sides of the frog it becomes more turquoise blue. The ventral surface of males has an opaque white or yellow background that is decorated with a sparse black or brown network of color. The single female paratype had a venter that was bright, opaque yellow with dark brown reticulations. Both sexes had reddish-orange palms and soles, but with more prominent coloring on the females. Irises in both sexes were golden yellow to orange-copper. When preserved, green parts of the A. coynei turned pale lavender. Additionally, brown spots faded and obtain a reddish wash. In males, the venter white-belled variations were unchanged while yellow-belly colorations were lost. In the female, the venter retained its yellowish tint and the brown reticulations paled to a medium brown color (Miyata 1980).

Atelopus coynei was named after biologist Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist, who helped collect a paratype in 1976 and provided financial support for Ken Miyata to the describe the species (Miyata 1980).

The type locality of A. coynei was lost to logging that caused sedimentation to the stream at which the holotype and paratypes were found (Miyata 1980).

Associates:

Biodiversity within the range of A. coynei is very high, with an exceptional level of endemism as well. Notable mammals present here are the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus), Jaguar (Panthera onca) and Andean Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque). Example avian species occurring in this ecoregion are the endemic Booted Racket-tail (Ocreatus underwoodii), Empress Brilliant (Heliodoxa imperatrix), the Fulvus Treerunner (Margaromis stellatus), the Black Solitaire (Entomodestes corocinus) and the Gorgeted Sunangel (Heliangelus strophianus).

There are an extraordinary number of amphibian taxa within the same ecoregion inhabited by A. coynei. Example associate endemic amphibians that overlap (or nearly overlap) the range of A. coynei are the Burrowe's Robber Frog (Pristimantis laticlavius), Duellman's Robber Frog (Pristimantis duellmani) and the Pirri Range Stubfoot Toad (Atelopus glyphus). Example reptilian endemics that overlap (or nearly overlap) the range of Atelopus coynei are: Antioquia Anole (Anolis antioquia) and the Saphenophis Snake (Saphenophis sneiderni).

Phylogeny and evolution:

All ancestral stock of genus Atelopus was likely present in South America prior to the Tertiary. Species within the genus Atelopus likely were adapted to stream-side habitats prior to the Andean uplift in the Cretaceous and Early Tertiary. As Andean uplift occurred, creating montane habitat, it lifted the species and corresponding speciation resulted for the medium to higher altitude species members including A. coynei; this higher altitude adaptation likely reflected the floral palette and microclimate (McDiarmid 1971).

  • McDiarmid, R. (1971). ''Comparative morphology and evolution on frogs of the neotropical genera Atelopus, Dendrophryniscus, Melanophryniscus and Oreophrynella.'' Bulletin of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, 12, 1-66.
  • Miyata, K. (1980). ''A new species of Atelopus (Anura: Bufonidae) from the cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador.'' Breviora, (458), 1-11.
  • Santiago, R, Coloma, L.A., Bustamante, M.R., Cisneros-Heredia , D., Almendariz, A., Yanez-Munoz, M. 2004. Atelopus coynei. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 3.1. Downloaded
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Distribution

Distribution and Habitat

Atelopus coynei is a terrestrial habitat dweller. This species can be found in the humid, secondary, montane forests near rock-bottom forest streams within the lower to middle elevations of the Northwestern Pacific-facing Andean montane forests ecoregion of Ecuador.

Atelopus coyneiis currently known solely from the provinces of Pichincha, Imbabura and Carchi. The estimated elevation bracket of taxon occurrence lies between 600 and 1380 meters above mean sea level. Atelopus coynei demonstrates certain capabilities for adaptation to secondary forest growth, which is important because of the significant forest habitat destruction in the species range (Miyata 1980; Santiago et al. 2004).

  • McDiarmid, R. (1971). ''Comparative morphology and evolution on frogs of the neotropical genera Atelopus, Dendrophryniscus, Melanophryniscus and Oreophrynella.'' Bulletin of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, 12, 1-66.
  • Miyata, K. (1980). ''A new species of Atelopus (Anura: Bufonidae) from the cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador.'' Breviora, (458), 1-11.
  • Santiago, R, Coloma, L.A., Bustamante, M.R., Cisneros-Heredia , D., Almendariz, A., Yanez-Munoz, M. 2004. Atelopus coynei. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 3.1. Downloaded
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Range Description

This species is known from the provinces of Pichincha, Imbabura, and Carchi on the Pacific versant of the Andes in north-western Ecuador. It has been recorded from 600-1,380m asl.
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Physical Description

Type Information

Paratype for Atelopus coynei
Catalog Number: USNM 211171
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1979
Locality: La Palma, 15 km NE of, on Highway 28, 14.4 km NE of its junction with Highway 30, Río Faisanes, Pichincha, Ecuador, South America
Elevation (m): 1380 to 1380
  • Paratype: Miyata, K. 1980. Breviora. (458): 3, figures 1-2.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is an inhabitant of humid north-western Andean montane forest. It appears to be able to adapt to secondary forest. It lays its eggs in swift-flowing streams and rivers. It has typical Atelopus tadpoles, attached to rocks.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2ace

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2004

Assessor/s
Santiago Ron, Luis A. Coloma, Martín R. Bustamante, Diego Cisneros-Heredia, Ana Almendáriz, Mario Yánez-Muñoz

Reviewer/s
Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Critically Endangered because of a drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 80% over the last three generations, inferred from the apparent disappearance of most of the population, probably due to chytridiomycosis.
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

During a July 1976 collection of Atelopus coynei, specimens found during the late afternoon were active on rocky banks in light rain, and specimens found at night were sleeping in vegetation along streams, indicating the species is diurnal. Males are thought to spend more time along the waterways than females, especially prior to the early summer breeding season (Miyata 1980).

After fertilization, eggs are laid in swift moving clear freshwater surface waters. The tadpoles, like other tadpoles of the genus Atelopus, are found attached to submerged rocks (Santiago et al. 2004).

  • McDiarmid, R. (1971). ''Comparative morphology and evolution on frogs of the neotropical genera Atelopus, Dendrophryniscus, Melanophryniscus and Oreophrynella.'' Bulletin of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, 12, 1-66.
  • Miyata, K. (1980). ''A new species of Atelopus (Anura: Bufonidae) from the cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador.'' Breviora, (458), 1-11.
  • Santiago, R, Coloma, L.A., Bustamante, M.R., Cisneros-Heredia , D., Almendariz, A., Yanez-Munoz, M. 2004. Atelopus coynei. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 3.1. Downloaded
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Population

Population
It is a rare species and has not been recorded since September 1984. It has probably undergone a serious population decrease.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Atelopus coynei has experienced a decline of eighty percent of the population in just three generations and was last observed in the wild since 1984. The chief reason for this dramatic loss in numbers is thought to be from chytrid fungal infections by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Further pressures on the species are due to deforestation and subsequent habitat loss and fragmentation due to agricultural conversion for crops and livestock, logging, and urbanization (Santiago et al. 2004).

While no taxon specific conservation measures are in place, a portion of the species range lies within Reserva Ecologica Cotacachi-Cayapas. Due to the rarity of the species and its status as Critically Endangered, conservation efforts should include field surveys and captive breeding of this frog (Santiago et al. 2004).

  • McDiarmid, R. (1971). ''Comparative morphology and evolution on frogs of the neotropical genera Atelopus, Dendrophryniscus, Melanophryniscus and Oreophrynella.'' Bulletin of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, 12, 1-66.
  • Miyata, K. (1980). ''A new species of Atelopus (Anura: Bufonidae) from the cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador.'' Breviora, (458), 1-11.
  • Santiago, R, Coloma, L.A., Bustamante, M.R., Cisneros-Heredia , D., Almendariz, A., Yanez-Munoz, M. 2004. Atelopus coynei. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 3.1. Downloaded
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Major Threats
The most critical threat to this species is probably chytridiomycosis. Agriculture, both crops and livestock, as well as logging and infrastructure development for human settlement, are major threats to the species’ habitat.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The range of this species includes the Reserva Ecológica Cotacachi-Cayapas. Surveys are needed to establish whether or not this species still survives in the wild. Given the threat of chytridiomycosis, successful conservation measures will probably need to include the maintenance of any surviving individuals in captivity.
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Wikipedia

Atelopus coynei

Atelopus coynei is a species of toad in the Bufonidae family. It is endemic to Ecuador. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, and rivers. It is threatened by habitat loss.[1]

It was named after evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, who collected the holotype in a swamp on a frogging trip to western Ecuador as a student in the late 1970s.[2] It was thought to be extinct for many years, but was observed and photographed on February 7, 2012 [3]

Speciation

The ancestral stock of the genus Atelopus was thought to be present in South America prior to the Tertiary era, according to C.Michael Hogan.[4] Species within the genus likely adapted to riparian habitats prior to the Andean uplift in the Cretaceous and Early Tertiary. As Andean uplift occurred, creating a more montane environment, it lifted the species and speciation resulted for the medium to higher altitude species members including A. coynei; this higher altitude adaptation likely reflected the ensuing vegetation and climate.

References

  1. ^ Ron, S., Coloma, L.A., Bustamante, M.R., Cisneros-Heredia, D., Almandáriz, A. & Yánez-Muñoz, M. 2004. Atelopus coynei. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 21 July 2007.
  2. ^ Atelopus coynei, an eponymous frog (Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution Is True, 2009-08-20)
  3. ^ My frog is ALIVE! (Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution Is True, 2012-02-16)
  4. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2013.Atelopus coynei. eds. M.Koo & A.T.Chang. AmphibiaWeb. University of California, Berkeley
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