Carrikeri harlequin frog
|Carrikeri Harlequin Frog|
Atelopus leoperezii Ruiz-Carranza, Ardila-Robayo & Hernández-Camacho, 1994
The Carrikeri Harlequin Frog, Atelopus carrikeri, is a species of toad in the Bufonidae family. It is approximately five centimeters (2 in) long and typically black, though some populations have orange coloration. This species is endemic to northern Colombia. It is critically endangered because of the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, and habitat destruction due to agriculture. Though the species had not been seen since 1994, it was rediscovered in early 2008.
This species was initially described by Alexander G. Ruthven in 1916 from specimens collected by M. A. Carriker, Jr. in 1914. In 1994, a new species, Atelopus leoperezii, was described, only to later be determined to be the same species as the Carrikeri Harlequin Frog. Its closest relative was believed to be now-extinct Atelopus ignescens of Ecuador.
The frog is about five centimeters (two in) long. The Carrikeri Harlequin Frog has at least two color phases, with the rarer orange population being the one recently rediscovered. However, the frog is typically all black, although it is a slightly lighter shade on its belly. In adults the skin is smooth except for a patch of spiny warts on the side. The area that these warts cover varies, with some specimens displaying them from their eyes to their arms and others displaying it from their eyes to their femurs. One specimen even had the warts covering the entire body. The Carrikeri Harlequin Frog has short legs with rounded fingers and toes. While its fingers are unwebbed, its toes are broadly webbed, though its first toe is distinct. Its head is as broad as it is long.
Distribution and habitat
It is endemic to about 627 km2 (242.1 sq mi) in northern Colombia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, subtropical or tropical high-altitude páramo grassland, and rivers. In addition, it is known to survive in snow-covered areas. It is found at elevations between 2,350 and 4,800 meters (ft). However, much of this habitat has been destroyed for agricultural purposes, which has contributed to the frog's decline.
This species lays its eggs in chains in freshwater mountain streams, where its tadpoles develop.
While the frog was common historically, it is currently critically endangered due to habitat loss from agriculture, climate change, crop fumigation, and, most significantly, the virulent chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This fungus was predicted to lower the population of the species by over 80%. The Carrikeri Harlequin Frog was rediscovered after an absence of 14 years by a Project Atelopus team in early 2008 in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Magdalena, Colombia.
- Ruthven, Alexander G. (May 25, 1916). "Description of a New Species of Atelopus from the Santa Marta Mountains, Colombia". Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan) 1 (28): 1–3. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- "Atelopus carrikeri". Global Amphibian Assessment. NatureServe. May 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- "Critically Endangered Harlequin Frog Rediscovered in Remote Region of Colombia". Wildlife Extra. March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- Waterman, Carly (2008-03-18). "Missing in Action!". EDGE. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- "Atelopus carrikeri". AmphibiaWeb. October 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- Acosta-Galvis, A., Ramírez Pinilla, M.P., Osorno-Muñoz, M., Rueda, J.V., Amézquita, A. & Ardila-Robayo, M.C. 2004. Atelopus carrikeri. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 21 July 2007.
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