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Dendrobates Auratus

Dendrobates Auratus

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Published by Joe May
Frogs found in Panama
Frogs found in Panama

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Published by: Joe May on Feb 15, 2013
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Dendrobates auratus
Girard, 1855
account by Thomas OstrowskiDendrobates auratus
fromRío La Gloria,Provincia de Bocas del Toro, Panama. Photo by Thomas Ostrowski.
 This Central American species occurs fromsoutheastern Nicaragua to northwestern Colombia. Though mostly distributed in humidlowlands and premontane rainforests from0-800 melevation, some montane morphs can be found up to 1200 melevation. Typelocality is the Pacific island of Taboga in the Bay of Panamá. In 1932, that morph was introduced to the Hawaiian Island of O’ahu.View type locality in Google Maps.
Natural history
 These frogs are mostly terrestrial, though some individuals were observed 50 mup in trees while transporting tadpoles to tree holes.Adult frogs are diurnal and active during the whole day. In the drier habitats of the Pacific versant, many morphs are inactive duringthe dry season and dwell the leaf litter only after rain showers. Both sexes tend to be territorial. Females try to monopolize strongmales and are very aggressive towards female counterparts. Depositing of eggs and the larval development occurs in the leaf litter.Brood care is done in general by the male. Hatching tadpoles are transported separately by the male to small seasonal pools in treeholes, big leaves, or in small depressions of river rocks. Tadpoles feed mainly on arthropod larvae and tend towards cannibalismiother food is lacking.Call recording
Conservation status
 Thought assessed as Least Concernby IUCN, there are several Pacific morphs o
D. auratus
that are a conservation concern due totheir small and fragmented ranges, nestled within the cleared agricultural landscape. Otherwise, the conservation status of the bluemorph, which is believed to be threatened with extinction, is overvalued concerning the lack of detection. There is more than onelocation at the pacific versant of Panama where several blue morphs occur. In general,
D. auratus
is a synanthropic species thatpopulates even secondary vegetations, parks, gardens, plantations, and even garbage dumps. Extensive captive breeding diminishesthe demand for smuggled individuals.
Member of the
group. Crossbreeding with
D. tinctorius
D. leucomelas
results in infertile offspring.
Alto de Piedra morph
 This highland morph is one of the biggest known. Adults reach a SVL of 38 to 42 mm. This morph can be found on the caribbean anpacific slopes of the continental divide near Santa Fé in the Province of Veraguas in Panama at altitudes of 700 to 1000 m. Temperature is quite moderate by 20° to 26° C by day and sometimes only 12° to 15° C by night. The frogs live in primary forestalong streams. They often prefer to live in the leave litter near big tree trunks. The pattern consists of very metallic shiny green orbluish green bands or blotches on a black underground. The venter looks more bluish. It's probably one of the most threatenedpopulations. According to local people this frog could be found once in high densities but now it's very rare. On our last visit in 2009we were able to found only one adult male and one juvenile that looked diseased. It seems that a lot of frog populations in thispremontane to montane area have decreased because of a Chytrid infection. The once very common
Atelopus varius
seems to bealready gone from this area. For that reason this population of 
D. auratus
is maybe in danger of extinction and should be in a specialconservation concern. This morph seems not to be in captivity in Europe.
Caldera morph
 This is a bigger blue morph with an SVL of 33 to 38 mmand can be found near Caldera in the Province of Chiriqui in Panama ataltitudes of 300 to 500 m. These frogs inhabit humid forest patches in a very dry region along small streams as well as on shores of bigger rivers. Most individuals show a pattern of sky-blue or turquoise, but also light-green frogs seem rarely to occur. This morph isalso being reported at localities nearby David.
 Taboga morph
Populations of this morph can be found on the two small Islands Taboga and Taboguilla in the Bay of Panama, in sight of PanamaCity. This is one of the smallest morphs, with an SVL of 28 to 30 mm. The frogs show a pattern of metallic yellow-green bands, lines,spots, blotches, or reticulated ornaments on a bronze-brown background. Juveniles and young adults show a black base colour thatlightens up with age. The Island of Taboga is the type locality of the species, therefore this is considered the 'Nominal' or ‘Nominat'morph. 203 specimens of this morph were introduced in 1932 to Hawaii as a biological weapon against introduced mosquitos. Thefrogs became naturalized and propagated now to a stable population on the island of O’ahu.
Santa Maria morph
 This polymorphic population is found near Santa in the province of Veraguas, Panama. The frogs have an SVL of 32 36 mm. Thepattern consists of green, turquoise, or blue bands or blotches on a black background. In the mostly cleared, dry area of the Pacific siteof Veraguas, the frogs depend on living in humid patches along rivers and streams of the Río Santa Maria drainage in altitudes of 50to 500 m.
San Felix morph
 This is a medium-sized morph with an SVL of 30 to 32 mm and can be found along the Río San Felix in the Province of Chiriqui,Panama. This morph resembles frogs from the Canal Zone, but the ground colour is a light brown like milky coffee and not a darkbrown or black. The pattern consists of green-yellow spots or rarely comma-like lines. This morph is found in a very dry area andduring the dry season the frogs can be found in large numbers in humid pockets under rocks or roots beside the river banks.
Kuna Yala morph
Another strange morph fromthe Caribbean lowlands in eastern Panama. This morph occurs at altitudes between 600 to 800 mat theSerrania de San Blas in the semi-autonomous territory of Kuna Yala. Mediumsized morph with 32 to 35 mmSVL which shows anunusual pattern of white bands, reticulation, or even spots on a dark brown underground. Juveniles metamorphose with a uniformdarkbrown colour without pattern. The pattern lightens up during maturity and reach the clear cream-white tone only after several years.During their first years of life, the offspring of this morph could easily be mixed up with the very similar looking morph from Capira.
Caribe morph
 The morph with the largest distribution. It occurs along the Caribbean coastline fromsouth-eastern Nicaragua to western Panamaalong the Province of Bocas del Toro. This morph is morphologically highly conserved throughout most of its range. Pattern consistsof large blotches and bandings fromyellow-green to turquoise-green on a black background. Green pattern takes up more than 50% of overall. It is one of the larger morphs, from33 to 38 mmSVL. Females are slightly bigger whereas males show often broadenedfingertips. This morph is often designated as ‘Nominalbecause of its ubiquity in terrariums, but actually the first described morphfromIsla Taboga has to be correctly called ‘Nominal.

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