Saving the spikethumb frog of Alta Verapaz

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Saving the spikethumb frog of Alta Verapaz.

Plectrohyla teuchestes is one of the most endangered frogs in Central America. Until recently, it was known only from one location in Guatemala. 

In 2015 it was found on an Indigo Expedition some 40km away from original sightings, in the same mountain range – called the Xucanebs.

Known more commonly as the Alta Verapaz spikethumb frog, it is a priority for surveying as part of our amphibian conservation work at CCFC, surveying for reptiles and amphibians in the Highlands of Alta Verapaz. 

One aim of Indigo Expeditions work in the Central Guatemalan Highlands of Alta Verapaz, is to monitor the populations of amphibians at our study site to help conserve the species present. To achieve this, we work in partnership with Universidad de Valle de Guatemala (UVG) and Community Cloud Forest Conservation, to monitor the disease status of those populations.

We collected our first disease samples in 2016, one of which was from Plectrohyla teuchestes itself, and we are currently waiting with toe pads crossed to see the results of the analyses being carried out by biology students at UVG.

Sightings

So far Indigo Expeditions has observed three individual spikethumb frogs (Plectrohyla teuchestes) at our site in the Alta Verapaz.

All three of these observations were located close to the same small waterfall on a canyon stream within our study area. The few other generic observations have also been close to waterfalls.

The cool, damp, cloud forests of Alta Verapaz are perfect habitats for amphibians. Very rarely drying out, they offer everything frogs and salamanders need to thrive.

Endemic Species

Combined with the large degrees of isolation, mean that the mountains in this region of Guatemala are home to many species that are endemic and not found anywhere else in the world.

Restricted ranges

Many species of frogs, especially those found in the highlands, have restricted ranges. This makes them vulnerable to habitat loss and threat of emerging amphibian diseases such as chytrid fungus, also known as Bd.

habitat loss

Habitat loss is a constant threat to highly endemic species, such as the spikethumb frog, and as the cloud forest continues to be cleared to make way for agriculture, Alta Verapaz is in danger of losing its unique frog species.

Community Cloud Forest Conservation

Our main Partner working in the Highlands of Alta Verapaz at their beautiful ecological facilities.

Published : 8th February 2017

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