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First record of the Amazonian tiny tree toad Amazophrynella minuta (Melin, 1941) (Anura: Bufonidae, for Venezuela

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Amazophrynella minuta is a small toad of the family Bufonidae. It was originally described as a member of the genus Atelopus but in the last decades has been relocated to different genera (see Frost 2013 for a review of its taxonomic history). This species is currently known from many localities across the lowlands and midlands of the Amazon rainforest of Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana and French Guiana (Ávila et al. 2012; Fouquet et al. 2012; Frost 2013). Fouquet et al. (2012) reported this species from Venezuela (in the Andean piedmont of the Llanos region), however, this record was based on an error of identification (A. Fouquet personal communication to SCF). Herein, we report for the first time the presence of Amazophrynella minuta from Venezuela on the basis of a single specimen (Figure 1) collected during a herpetological survey conducted by the Museo de Historia Natural La Salle (MHNLS). The specimen is housed at the Abstract: Amazophrynella minuta is a small toad widely distributed in the lowlands and midlands of the Amazon and Guiana regions. Herein we report the first record of this species from Venezuela based on a single specimen from Raudal de Danto, Río Cuao, northwestern Amazonas state. This record extends the distribution of the species more than 500 km from the closest known localities in Colombia and Brazil
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1122
Journal of species lists and distribution
Chec List
No te s o N GeoGraphic DistributioN
Check List 9(5): 1122–1123, 2013
© 2013 Check List and Authors
ISSN 1809-127X (available at www.checklist.org.br)
Amazophrynella minuta is a small toad of the family
Bufonidae. It was originally described as a member of the
genus Atelopus but in the last decades has been relocated
to different genera (see Frost 2013 for a review of its
taxonomic history). This species is currently known from
many localities across the lowlands and midlands of
the Amazon rainforest of Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador,
Colombia, Guyana and French Guiana (Ávila et al. 2012;
Fouquet et al. 2012; Frost 2013). Fouquet et al. (2012)
reported this species from Venezuela (in the Andean
piedmont of the Llanos region), however, this record was
      
communication to SCF).
         
Amazophrynella minuta from Venezuela on the basis
of a single specimen (Figure 1) collected during a
herpetological survey conducted by the Museo de Historia
Natural La Salle (MHNLS). The specimen is housed at the
Abstract: Amazophrynella minuta is a small toad widely distributed in the lowlands and midlands of the Amazon and


the closest known localities in Colombia and Brazil
1 Fundación La Salle de Ciencias Naturales, Museo de Historia Natural La Salle. Apartado Postal 1930, Código Postal 1010-A, Caracas, DC,
Venezuela.
 
 
 
* Corresponding author. E-mail: rojas_runjaic@yahoo.com
 1*2,3 and César L. Barrio-Amorós 4
First record of the Amazonian tiny tree toad Amazophrynella
minuta (Melin, 1941) (Anura: Bufonidae), for Venezuela
herpetological collection of the aforementioned institution
       
       
del Poder Popular para el Ambiente of Venezuela.
        
         
    
        
aproximately 22:00 h, in the leaf-litter near a small creek
in primary rainforest (Figure 3). This specimen represents
Amazophrynella minuta for Venezuela,
      
 

Brazil (type locality), the two closest known localities. The
presence of this bufonid in Amazonas, Venezuela is not
completely unexpected because the herpetofauna of this
region has many Amazonian elements (Barrio-Amorós
Figure 1.Amazoprhynella minuta
from Venezuela.
1123
Rojas-Runjaic et al. | First record of Amazophrynella minuta for Venezuela
Figure 2.Amazophrynella minuta


Figure 3. Habitat at the locality where the specimen of Amazoprhynella
minuta (MHNLS 19913) was found.
        
and A. minuta is widely distributed in the Amazon and
Guiana regions (Ávila et al. 2012; Fouquet et al. 2012; Frost
2013). The northern region of Amazonas state, Venezuela,
has been sampled on multiple occasions during the last
two centuries by professional herpetologists so the fact
that so far only one specimen of A. minuta has been found
probably indicates that this small toad occurs at very low
densities.
Some authors have suggested that Amazophrynella
minuta currently represents a complex of cryptic species
(Fouquet et al. 2007; 2012; Ávila et al. 2012). However,
additional detailed work, preferably including several lines
of evidence (e.g. morphological, molecular, behavioral,
ecological), is necessary to assess the taxonomic status of
the populations of toads currently assigned to this taxon.
Acknowledgments:   
de Ciencias Naturales for their logistic support. Also we are indebted to

work with helpful comments.
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revealed by mtDNA analyses. PLoS ONE 2(10): 1-10.
           

2012. Molecular phylogeny and morphometric analyses reveal
deep divergence between Amazonia and Atlantic Forest species of
Dendrophryniscus. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
838.
   Amphibian species of the world: an online reference.
Version 5.6 (9 January 2013). American Museum of Natural History,
       
   
February 2013.

and conservation of Venezuelan amphibians and reptiles. Amphibian
and Reptile Conservation 2(2): 42-70.

In C.A.
Evaluación rápida
de la biodiversidad de los ecosistemas acuáticos en la confluencia de los
ríos Orinoco y Ventuari, estado Amazonas (Venezuela).
Evaluación Biológica 30. Washington DC: Conservación Internacional
: April 2013
: August 2013
: October 2013

... Therefore, securing samples requires large sampling efforts. Although only a few herpetological surveys had been carried out in the Cuao-Sipapo massif and surrounding areas (Gorzula & Señaris 1999;Barrio-Amorós et al. 2004;Rojas-Runjaic et al. 2013), this locality is only ~ 62 km from Puerto Ayacucho-the capital of the Venezuelan Amazonas state-, which in comparison to the Cuao-Sipapo massif has been extensively explored by naturalists. The fact that only one specimen of Kataphraktosaurus ungerhamiltoni is known, suggests that this is a rather secretive and/or rare lizard, with a geographic distribution restricted to the Cuao-Sipapo massif. ...
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Gymnophthalmids are a highly diverse group of Neotropical lizards and its species richness is still in process of discovery. The incorporation of molecular evidence and a noticeable increase in taxon and geographic sampling in systematic studies has led to the description of numerous new genera and species of gymnophthalmids (particularly in Cercosaurinae) in recent years. Herein we describe a new genus and species of cercosaurine lizard with crocodile-like morphology, from the Venezuelan Guiana Shield on the basis of molecular phylogenetic and morphological evidence. Kataphraktosaurus gen. nov. can be readily distinguished from all other genera of Cercosaurinae by a unique combination of morphological characters that includes heterogeneous dorsal scalation with enlarged and strongly keeled scales forming two paravertebral rows, ventral and subcaudal scales imbricated and strongly keeled, large and symmetrical cephalic scales, absence of postmental scale, palpebral disc translucent and divided, tail slightly compressed, all digits clawed, and only six femoral pores (three at each hindlimb) inserted in a clump of small scales. This genus is described as monotypic and only contains Kataphraktosaurus ungerhamiltoni sp. nov., which is known from one specimen and diagnosed by the same set of aforementioned characters. The secretive habits of this species and the remoteness of the locality may explain its singleton situation. Following the International Union for Conservation of Nature's criteria, we categorized the new species as Data Deficient.
... Por su parte, en la última década el investigador belga Philippe J. R. Kok ha realizado varias expediciones a las cimas de los tepuyes orientales venezolanos y de Guyana, resultando en la descripción de numerosas especies de algunos géneros característicos de las tierras altas de la región (Kok 2010, 2013, Kok y Barrio-Amorós 2013, Kok et al. 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016. Igualmente el grupo de trabajo del MHNLS ha contribuido al reconocimiento de la anurofauna de la región con la revisión de los géneros Tepuihyla y Stefania, la descripción de nuevos taxones tras exploraciones al macizo de Chimantá (Salerno et al. 2012, Rojas-Runjaic et al. 2013a) y revisión de colecciones nacionales (Rojas-Runjaic et al. 2013b. ...
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Resumen: La fauna de anfibios del escudo Guayanés en Venezuela reúne 195 especies de anfibios —189 anuros y seis cecilias—, cifra que representa el 54% de la riqueza total del país, alrededor del 6,6% de la megadiversa fauna anfibia de Suramérica. Un tercio de esta enorme diversidad es endémica de la región, con tres géneros y unas 65 especies exclusivas. Debido a los grandes vacíos de información, se considera que esta diversidad está subestimada, esperándose un incremento sostenido como resultado de nuevas exploraciones a la región y el estudio de las muestras de colecciones nacionales e internacionales. Las formaciones boscosas de la Guayana albergan la mayor riqueza de anfibios; la riqueza disminuye con la elevación pero, en contraste, el grado de endemismo se eleva, de allí que el Pantepui —tierras ≥1500 m s.n.m.— alberguen algo más de la mitad de los taxones exclusivos. La mayoría de las especies características de la región son microendemismos, condición que las categoriza en riesgo de extinción. Actualmente la minería ilegal, y sus consecuencias, es la principal amenaza a las comunidades de anfibios guayaneses; sin embargo, se prevé que el cambio climático pueda ser la mayor amenaza futura. Abstract: The amphibian fauna of the Guiana Shield in Venezuela includes 195 species —189 anurans and six caecilians— representing 54% of the total of the country, and 6.6% of the megadiverse amphibian fauna of South America. One third of this enormous diversity is endemic to the region, with three exclusive genera and 65 species. Due to large gaps in information, this diversity is considered underestimated; an important increase is expected as result of new explorations to the region and the study of samples from national and international collections. The forest formations harbor the greatest richness of amphibians; the diversity diminishes with an increase in elevation, but in contrast, endemism increases, and the Pantepui —lands above 1500 masl— house more than half of the endemic taxa. Most of the species characteristic of the region are microendemics, a condition that automatically categorizes them as threatened because of their small range. Currently deforestation and mining (legal and illegal) and their consequences, are the main threats to Guianan amphibian communities; however, it is anticipated that climate change may be the greatest threat in future, especially in the highlands.
... In Venezuela, the species was reported from Raudal de Danto, Río Cuao (4.53°N, 67.18°W) Amazonas state, at elevation of 105 m a.s.l. (Rojas-Runjaic et al., 2013). ...
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The description of Amazophrynella minuta was published in 1941 by the Swedish naturalist Douglas Melin based on material from Taracuá (Amazonas state, Brazil). This description was very brief and based on the morphology of few specimens with diagnostic characters and color variation not well defined. Moreover, the type series is currently in poor state of conservation. Consequently, taxonomic ambiguity surrounds the nominal taxon A. minuta, which hampers the description of many unnamed congeneric species. Herein, we redescribe A. minuta based on recently collected specimens from the type locality, designate a lectotype, formulate a new diagnosis, provide patterns of morphological variation, measurements and body proportions.
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A new species of the genus Amazophrynella is described from southern Amazonia, Brazil. The new species is characterized by its medium size for the genus (15.2-19.3 mm SVL in males, 20.2-25.7 mm SVL in females), snout rounded in dorsal view, acute in lateral view, presence of subrostral crest not converging anteriorly, finger I shorter than finger II, and by dorsal and ventral coloration. The reproductive behavior of the new species is similar to other Amazophrynella with pigmented and numerous eggs that are probably laid in temporary ponds.
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Dendrophryniscus is an early diverging clade of bufonids represented by few small-bodied species distributed in Amazonia and the Atlantic Forest. We used mitochondrial (414 bp of 12S, 575 bp of 16S genes) and nuclear DNA (785 bp of RAG-1) to investigate phylogenetic relationships and the timing of diversification within the genus. These molecular data were gathered from 23 specimens from 19 populations, including eight out of the 10 nominal species of the genus as well as Rhinella boulengeri. Analyses also included sequences of representatives of 18 other bufonid genera that were publically available. We also examined morphological characters to analyze differences within Dendrophryniscus. We found deep genetic divergence between an Amazonian and an Atlantic Forest clade, dating back to Eocene. Morphological data corroborate this distinction. We thus propose to assign the Amazonian species to a new genus, Amazonella. The species currently named R. boulengeri, which has been previously assigned to the genus Rhamphophryne, is shown to be closely related to Dendrophryniscus species. Our findings illustrate cryptic trends in bufonid morphological evolution, and point to a deep history of persistence and diversification within the Amazonian and Atlantic rainforests. We discuss our results in light of available paleoecological data and the biogeographic patterns observed in other similarly distributed groups.
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Amphibians are rapidly vanishing. At the same time, it is most likely that the number of amphibian species is highly underestimated. Recent DNA barcoding work has attempted to define a threshold between intra- and inter-specific genetic distances to help identify candidate species. In groups with high extinction rates and poorly known species boundaries, like amphibians, such tools may provide a way to rapidly evaluate species richness. Here we analyse published and new 16S rDNA sequences from 60 frog species of Amazonia-Guianas to obtain a minimum estimate of the number of undescribed species in this region. We combined isolation by distance, phylogenetic analyses, and comparison of molecular distances to evaluate threshold values for the identification of candidate species among these frogs. In most cases, geographically distant populations belong to genetically highly distinct lineages that could be considered as candidate new species. This was not universal among the taxa studied and thus widespread species of Neotropical frogs really do exist, contrary to previous assumptions. Moreover, the many instances of paraphyly and the wide overlap between distributions of inter- and intra-specific distances reinforce the hypothesis that many cryptic species remain to be described. In our data set, pairwise genetic distances below 0.02 are strongly correlated with geographical distances. This correlation remains statistically significant until genetic distance is 0.05, with no such relation thereafter. This suggests that for higher distances allopatric and sympatric cryptic species prevail. Based on our analyses, we propose a more inclusive pairwise genetic distance of 0.03 between taxa to target lineages that could correspond to candidate species. Using this approach, we identify 129 candidate species, two-fold greater than the 60 species included in the current study. This leads to estimates of around 170 to 460 frog taxa unrecognized in Amazonia-Guianas. As a consequence the global amphibian decline detected especially in the Neotropics may be worse than realised.
Amphibian species of the world: an online reference. Version 5
  • D R Frost
Frost, D.R. 2013. Amphibian species of the world: an online reference. Version 5.6 (9 January 2013). American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA. Electronic Database accessible at http://research. amnh.org/herpetology/amphibia/index.html. Captured on 18
Distribution, species-richness, endemism, and conservation of Venezuelan amphibians and reptiles
  • J E Péfaur
  • J A Rivero
Péfaur J.E. and J.A. Rivero. 2000. Distribution, species-richness, endemism, and conservation of Venezuelan amphibians and reptiles. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 2(2): 42-70.
Herpetofauna de la confluencia de los ríos Orinoco y Ventuari, estado Amazonas, Venezuela Evaluación rápida de la biodiversidad de los ecosistemas acuáticos en la confluencia de los ríos Orinoco y Ventuari
  • J C Señaris
  • G Rivas
Señaris, J.C. and G. Rivas. 2006. Herpetofauna de la confluencia de los ríos Orinoco y Ventuari, estado Amazonas, Venezuela; p. 129-135 In C.A. Lasso, J.C. Señaris, L.E. Alonso and A.L. Flores (ed.). Evaluación rápida de la biodiversidad de los ecosistemas acuáticos en la confluencia de los ríos Orinoco y Ventuari, estado Amazonas (Venezuela). Boletín RAP de Evaluación Biológica 30. Washington DC: Conservación Internacional Received: April 2013