IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Dendropsophus minutus, the lesser tree frog, is considered one of the most common and widespread amphibian species of South America, found from sea level lowlands of the Guinean Shield and Columbia up to 2000 m (6500 ft) in elevation through east-of the-Andes Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina.  However coloration and call variation as well as recent molecular work reveals significant cryptic diversity across this range, indicating that D. minutus comprises a species complex made up of up to 43 distinct lineages, each of which may be separate species.  The complex appears to have an early- to mid-Miocene origin in the Amazonian basin with dispersal east to the Atlantic forest to form the initial diversification of the D. minutus complex followed by subsequent dispersals to other parts of South America.

While considered by the IUCN as a species of least concern, further work on resolving the cryptic diversity of this species complex may have large conservation implications.  The most geographically widespread D. minutus lineages occur across open habitats in Brazil but more than half of the lineages appear to be endemic to very small areas (less than 10 square km; 4 square miles), indicating need for taxonomic revision and requirements for greater protection measures.

A small hylid frog (21-28 mm (0.8-1.1 inches) snout-vent length), the lesser tree frog inhabits tropical forests, perching on leaves and branches, but is also abundant at forest edges, grasslands, marshes and around ditches and puddles in cleared areas, disturbed forest and agricultural lands. In breeding season (September-February), D. minutus becomes less arboreal, congregating on emergent plants, grasses and shrubs around water.  The territorial males make short shrill calls between dusk and midnight; females lay eggs into standing water.  The free-swimming tadpoles have a dark stripe between their nose and eye, and an orange and black tail fin.  Tadpoles feed on algae, and are possibly also opportunistically carnivorous.

(Gehara et al. 2014; Both et al. 2014)


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© Dana Campbell

Supplier: Dana Campbell

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