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The bufonid warty frog, Rhinella spinulosa, is widely distributed around Andean streams, lakes and wetlands of Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, mostly at altitudes between 2000-4600 m (6500-15,000 ft), with the exception of two populations in northern Chile, which occur in streams below 1000 m (3250 ft). It is a member of a large genus, with some cryptic species. The nocturnal adults hide under rocks in grasslands during the day, and while they do not stray far from water (up to 15 meters), they are mostly terrestrial. They breed in temporary pools, or slow creeks.
Molecular analyses indicate that this species is made up of two genetically distinct lineages. The northern of these two lineages (which includes the lower elevation populations) is far more genetically homogeneous than the southern lineage. Correa et al. 2010 and Gallardo et al. 2011 suggest that this genetic pattern may be a relict of geological changes during the Pleistocene and Holocene which caused expansions and contractions of stream habitats, temperature cline and other landscape changes responsible for biogeographical dispersal processes. These authors indicate that the warty frog could be a valuable model for understanding historic geological changes that structured the biogeography of many inhabitants of this area.
Rhinella spinulosa has a complex taxonomic history, is historically treated as a species group and contains cryptic speciation. Abundant over the area of its broad range, R. spinulosa is considered stable (of least concern) by the IUCN.
(Angulo et al 2010; Correra et al. 2010; Gallardo et al. 2011)