A team of researchers working in one of the most hostile field sites in Colombia has recently reported the discovery of two new frog species.
In the humid tropical forests of north-eastern Colombia, much of the native fauna and flora remains something of a mystery. For over five decades, civil unrest and armed conflict in the area have made biodiversity surveys extremely risky. Data collection has also been hindered by the limited resources available for ecological and conservation research.
Yet, fresh hope has emerged for protecting life in this hazardous hotspot. Back in 2010, an intrepid team of researchers led by Aldemar Acevedo was awarded the Future Conservationist Award by the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP), a partnership between Fauna & Flora International (FFI), BirdLife International and WCS, to assess the conservation status of amphibians inhabiting these Andean forests. Since gaining this springboard for its critical work, the team has spent the last decade uncovering previously hidden secrets about these amphibians and mitigating threats to their survival.
One of the team’s most recent successes is the discovery of two new endemic species of rain frogs. The newly described species both belong to the genus Pristimantis, a large group of frogs widely distributed throughout Central and South America. Occupying a wide variety of habitats and altitudes, Pristimantis frogs have diversified into approximately 500 species, of which about half are found in Colombia. The team’s recently published findings include molecular analyses and morphological comparisons with the frogs’ close relatives to reveal they are new species, as well as a description of their distribution in the region.