Multiple New Species of Frogs Discovered in Ecuadorian Mountains

by Craig Garrett
Pygmy Rain Frog - Pristimantis Ridens In Tropical Rainforest - stock photo

Six brand-new species of rain frogs were discovered on the eastern slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes, according to authorities. The Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment, Water, and Ecological Transition announced that three researchers from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador and the National Institute of Biodiversity had made new discoveries in Llanganates and Sangay. National Parks not only protect the Amazonian montane forests that are found on mountain slopes, but they also preserve the rich and ecologically diverse wildlife within them.

On Wednesday, one of the three researchers, Professor Santiago Ron told CNN that it took four years to discover six new species of frogs. “The discovery took place during several expeditions to remote places in the Amazonian cloud forests in 2008, 2015, and 2017. After that, we analyzed the data and wrote the publication,” he explained.

The frogs in question all belong to the genus Pristimantis, of which there are more than 569 species. These species can be found as far north as eastern Honduras and Panama, through the Andes to Bolivia, northern Argentina, and Brazil. According to a study on their discovery published in PeerJ journal, these frogs do not rely on water bodies for reproduction. Instead, they lay eggs on land.

One new frog species are named after researchers killed it while defending nature

Ron and his team named one of the frogs “resistencia.” This was to honor Latin American environmentalists who have been killed while defending nature. “During the last 10 years, Latin America has been the most dangerous region for environmental advocates,” Ron said.  That violence has ramped up recently. More environmentalists were killed in Latin America than in any other region of the world last year. This is according to a report published by Global Witness.

The researchers suggested that, due to the lack of information on the populations of these rain frogs, these new species should be classified as Data Deficient in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. This is a system that determines whether a species is at high risk of extinction. With 669 amphibian species, Ecuador is the third most diverse country in the world after Brazil and Colombia.

The Andes are home to a diverse range of fauna. Almost 1,000 species of animals, including amphibians, reptiles, fish and mammals. Around two-thirds of these species are endemic to the region – that is, they can only be found in the Andes. This makes the Andes one of the most important regions in the world for biodiversity.

The vicuña, guanaco, llama, and alpaca all live in the Andes mountain range. The former two are crepuscular animals (active during dawn and dusk). Meanwhile, the latter two are domesticated by locals for their meat, wool, and as pack animals.