AmphibiaWeb provides information on amphibian declines, natural history, conservation, and taxonomy.

Species of the Week:
Can you tell if this is Ranitomeya variabilis or imitator?

Amphibian News
In a recent issue of Nature Communications, Twomey et al. (2014) report on the Peruvian frog Ranitomeya imitator, which has evolved to mimic locally abundant poisonous frog species. In a classic case of Mullerian mimicry, individuals of R. imitator vary dramatically across a narrow transition zone in which they closely mimic R. fantastica versus R. variabilis. Microsatellite markers reveal restricted gene flow across this transition zone, perfectly matching the transition of R. imitator morphological characters and mating calls. Mate choice experiments revealed strong evidence for assortative mating in R. imitator within the transition zone, proving that genetic isolation can arise from natural selection for mimicry. While it is unclear if these reproductive barriers arose through sympatry or allopatry, the results clearly point to a role for mimicry in the speciation process.

Current number of amphibian species: 7,329 (Oct 24, 2014) Newly added species