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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Smilisca phaeota is a relatively large hylid frog with adult size reaching up to 78 mm (Leenders 2001). This frog can be easily be distinguished, since it is the only large tree frog in Costa Rica that has both a silvery white stripe on the upper lip and a dark, masklike stripe from the nostril to the insertion of the arms (Guyer 2005). Many individuals have a green spot on each side of the head between the dark mask and the lip (Leenders 2001). Coloration can range from pale green to tan, and the frog may either be uniform in color or have dark olive green to dark brown dorsal blotches (Savage 2002). It has a relatively flattened body (Leenders 2001), and a smooth dorsal surface (Savage 2002). The head is as wide as it is long, with a snout that is bluntly rounded from above (Savage 2002). It has skinlike webbing between the toes and fingers and an enlarged disk on each finger that is adhesive. The eardrums (tympana) are visible. The eyes are large, with horizontal elliptical pupils and copper colored irises (Leenders 2001).

Tadpoles are moderately sized and can reach 30 mm in length. They have a robust body, anteroventral mouth, dorsolateral nostrils, dorsolateral eyes, lateral spiracle, and a rounded tail tip (Savage 2002).

Smilisca phaeota is capable of changing color. It can change the color of its upper surface to tan or green. They are usually tan during the day and change to green during the night (Leenders 2001). Similar species include:1) Smilisca baudinii, which differs from S. phaeota by the former's lack of reticulate flanks and white stripes on the lip, forearm, and leg. 2)Smilisca puma, which is smaller and has little or no webbing (Savage 2002).

A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).

  • Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
  • Leenders, T. (2001). A Guide to Amphibians And Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical, Miami.
  • Guyer, C., and Donnelly, M. A. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica and the Caribbean Slope: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Guyer, C. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica, and the Carribean slope. University of California Press, Berkeley.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs on the Atlantic slope of northeastern Honduras, through Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama to northern Colombia; and on the Pacific versant from central Costa Rica to southwestern Panama and from El Valle de Anton, Cocle Province, Panama, to Colombia. In South America, it occurs in the Pacific lowlands of Colombia and western Ecuador, and around the northern slopes of the Western and Central Cordilleras in Colombia to the Middle Magdalena Valley. It occurs from sea level up to at least 1,600m asl (Costa Rica).
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Distribution and Habitat

Smilisca phaeota can be found in the Caribbean slopes from Honduras to northern Colombia and the Pacific slopes from Costa Rica to Ecuador (Guyer 2005). It primarily inhabits lowland rainforest, up to 3,300 ft in elevation (Leenders 2001). It is common in areas disturbed by humans, such as storm drains and around laboratory buildings (Guyer 2005).

  • Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
  • Leenders, T. (2001). A Guide to Amphibians And Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical, Miami.
  • Guyer, C., and Donnelly, M. A. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica and the Caribbean Slope: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Guyer, C. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica, and the Carribean slope. University of California Press, Berkeley.
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Countries

Countries

Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Identification

Adult

Species description based on Savage (2002).  A large treefrog (males to 66 mm, females to 78 mm).

Dorsal

Dorsal coloration varies from light green to light brown. Most individuals have large darker green or brown irregularly-shaped spots on the back. The arms and legs are barred. The sides of the body are light, with extensive dark brown or black vein-like patterning. On the head, there are dark bars running along the upper sides of the snout and the lip is white. The skin of the dorsum is smooth.

Concealed surfaces

The rear surfaces of the thighs are grey or brown with or without light or dark spots.

Eye

The iris is bronze with black reticulations.

Extremities

The outer edge of the lower arm and leg is lined in white.

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Type Information

Holotype for Smilisca phaeota
Catalog Number: USNM 39899
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Turbo, Antioquia, Colombia, South America
  • Holotype: Cope, E. D. 1862. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 14 (9): 358.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits humid lowland forest, where usually they are found in secluded sites at the edge of, or in, shallow temporary pools and occasionally at the edges of streams or large ponds. It tolerates substantial forest disturbance, and lives on forest edge and in open country, even where there are few trees. It breeds in small, usually temporary pools, even in footprints of cattle, and avoids larger ponds as breeding sites.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Habitat

Lowland and premontane forest as well as more open, grassy areas (to 1600 m).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

Call

A low, growly "wawk" usually repeated two times in a row (Duellman 1970)

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Life Cycle

Life History

Breeding season

Breeding occurs year-round after heavy rains (Savage 2002). Males call from hiding places under vegetation at shallow ponds or puddles, slow streams, as well as in ditches (Savage 2002).

Egg

Large numbers of eggs (up to 2,000) are laid as a surface film (Savage 2002). The eggs are black and cream (Savage 2002).

Tadpole

The tadpole body is oval, with a moderate tail and moderate tail fins (Savage 2002). The dorsum is light brown, with a white crescent-shaped mark just under the head (Savage 2002). Some darker spots or flecks are usually present on the tail (Savage 2002). The ventral surface is pale with some dark brown flecking (Savage 2002).

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 4.1 years (captivity)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Smilisca phaeota

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 28
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2004

Assessor/s
Frank Solís, Roberto Ibáñez, Gerardo Chaves, Larry David Wilson, Manuel Morales, John Lynch, Federico Bolaños

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

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
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Population

Population
This is an abundant species throughout its range.

Population Trend
Stable
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

These frogs are mainly active during the night and throughout the wet season (Savage 2002). During the day, they sleep on the upper surface of large leaves, but have also been found sleeping on top of large tree ferns or in rolled-up banana leaves. In the mating season, males produce a loud and harsh "wrauk" at dusk. They call from the water surface of small rain pools. Females lay small clumps of up to 2,000 eggs to form a small thin layer on the water surface. Since females lay their eggs in small rain pools, tadpoles must develop rapidly to avoid desiccation (Leenders 2001). This frog presumably preys on arthropods (Guyer 2005).

  • Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
  • Leenders, T. (2001). A Guide to Amphibians And Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical, Miami.
  • Guyer, C., and Donnelly, M. A. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica and the Caribbean Slope: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Guyer, C. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica, and the Carribean slope. University of California Press, Berkeley.
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Threats

Major Threats
It is not facing any significant threats.
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

These frogs are common (Savage 2002).

  • Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
  • Leenders, T. (2001). A Guide to Amphibians And Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical, Miami.
  • Guyer, C., and Donnelly, M. A. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica and the Caribbean Slope: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Guyer, C. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica, and the Carribean slope. University of California Press, Berkeley.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It occurs in many protected areas.
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Wikipedia

New Granada cross-banded tree frog

The New Granada cross-banded tree frog, Smilisca phaeota, is a species of frog in the Hylidae family found in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, rivers, freshwater marshes, intermittent freshwater marshes, plantations, rural gardens, urban areas, heavily degraded former forests, ponds, and canals and ditches.

Masked tree frog resting during the day.
Smilisca phaeota, pictured here on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica

References[edit]

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