Eleutherodactylus coqui Thomas, 1966
Margaret M. Stewart
Michael J. Lannoo
1. Historical versus Current Distribution. Coquis
(Eleutherodactylus coqui) are native to Puerto Rico where they are widespread
(Thomas, 1966). They were introduced into southeastern Florida and southeastern Louisiana
(Schwartz and Henderson, 1991; Conant and Collins, 1998). In Florida, coquis have been
documented only from Dade County (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). In the late 1990s, coquis
and their congener, greenhouse frogs (E. planirostris), native to Cuba but
successfully introduced to south Florida, were introduced into Hawaii. Coquis were likely
initially transported as egg masses in the nursery trade. They are now found on the
islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai and continue to expand their range. In the town
of Hilo, they entered via the Wal-Mart nursery (W. Mautz, R. Niino-DuPonte, personal
communications). Populations there are expanding rapidly.
2. Historical versus Current
Abundance. Coquis have been introduced to the United States and are limited to areas near
bromeliad nurseries or greenhouses. Populations do not appear to be self-sustaining and
instead may be replenished by new bromeliad shipments from Puerto Rico (Bartlett and
3. Life History Features. (Information comes primarily from studies
at 350 m in Puerto Rico.)
A. Breeding. Reproduction is terrestrial.
Coquis breed year-round, but breeding is more common during times of heat and high
humidity, from late spring to early fall (Conant and Collins, 1998; Bartlett and Bartlett,
1999a). Females approach calling males, who then lead the females to potential nest sites
where amplexus occurs (Townsend and Stewart, 1986). Fertilization is internal (Townsend et
ii. Breeding habitat. Males will call from open, elevated areas as well as
from leaf surfaces, axils of palms, and tree trunks (Townsend, 1989).
Egg deposition sites. Coquis deposit eggs in partially enclosed spaces such as rolled
leaves, palm fronds, and bromeliad axils, where they are guarded by the male parent
(Stewart and Pough, 1983; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a).
ii. Clutch size. Clutch size
varies with size of female, which varies with locality. Clutch size varies from 12–24 eggs
in Florida (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a) and averages 26 eggs at 350 m in Puerto Rico
(Townsend et al., 1984).
C. Direct Development. Complete metamorphosis occurs within
the egg. Young hatch as tiny froglets, 6 mm long (Townsend and Stewart, 1985).
Brood sites. Coquis brood in enclosed areas such as in curled, fallen leaves and rolled
palm fronds (Stewart and Pough, 1983; Townsend, 1989; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a).
ii. Parental care. Following deposition, clutches are tended and protected by the male
parent until hatching occurs, often extending care to several days post-hatching (Townsend
et al., 1984; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). Males will defend the eggs against
conspecifics by biting, wrestling, aggressive calling, and preventing access to the nest
(Townsend et al., 1984).
D. Juvenile Habitat. In their native range, juveniles tend to
remain on or near litter and ground vegetation, moving higher when foraging as they age
(Stewart, 1995; Beard et al., 2003).
E. Adult Habitat. In their native range of Puerto
Rico, coquis are a widespread generalist species. Adults spend the day in the litter and
are arboreal at night (Stewart, 1985). Those observed in Florida tend to remain from
15–220 cm (6 in–7 ft) off the ground (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). In Florida, coquis
are limited to areas around greenhouses (Conant and Collins, 1998). During the day, coquis
are found in secluded areas such as rock piles, axils of bromeliad fronds, treeholes, and
under rocks or logs (Stewart, 1985). However, on rainy or overcast days coquis are
sometimes active (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). Males are most vocal after dark on moist
nights when they give their advertisement calls (Woolbright and Stewart, 1987).
Home Range Size. In Puerto Rico, the horizontal home range is ~5 m; the vertical range is
the entire vertical spectrum of the forest; the average calling height of males is
approximately 1 m off ground (Woolbright, 1985; Townsend, 1989).
G. Territories. Male
coquis give warning calls to defend their calling sites or diurnal retreats, while females
produce soft, rasping vocalizations to defend their feeding sites (Stewart and Rand,
1991). Males tending nests will defend the eggs against conspecifics (see “Parental care”
above; Townsend et al., 1984).
H. Aestivation/Avoiding Desiccation. Aestivation does
not occur. Other than nocturnality, behaviors associated with avoiding desiccation have
I. Seasonal Migrations. None.
J. Torpor (Hibernation). None.
K. Interspecific Associations/Exclusions. Personal space increases with size. Juveniles
may sit next to each other, but adults do not allow another adult close by if visible
L. Age/Size at Reproductive Maturity. Size is dependent on locality,
with larger individuals at higher elevations. Size ranges from 2.5–5.8 cm (1–2.25 in;
Schwartz and Henderson, 1991; Conant and Collins, 1998). Females are larger than males
(Woolbright, 1989), and frogs may reach reproductive size in 1 yr (Stewart and Woolbright,
1996). Individuals observed in Florida tend to be small (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a), as
are lowland frogs in Puerto Rico.
M. Longevity. In nature, most do not live to the
second year; the oldest individuals on record are 6 yr (Stewart and Woolbright, 1996).
N. Feeding Behavior. Coquis are dietary generalists eating a wide range of primarily
invertebrates in addition to conspecific eggs (Stewart and Woolbright, 1996).
Predators. Eggs may be preyed upon by conspecifics, ants, snails, centipedes, and phorid
flies; frogs are eaten by birds, lizards, snakes, spiders, scorpions, mongoose, and feral
cats (Stewart and Woolbright, 1996).
P. Anti-Predator Mechanisms. Protection is
provided primarily by cryptic colors and patterns, jumping and hiding under objects, and
urination when disturbed. When attacked by crab spiders, larger frogs can kick themselves
free (Formanowicz et al., 1981).
Q. Diseases. Unknown.
R. Parasites. Nematodes in
lungs, intestines, and body cavity or under the skin (M.M.S., personal observations).
In Puerto Rico, coquis are widespread and abundant (Rivero, 1998).
Although other species of Eleutherodactylus have declined and disappeared, we have
no evidence that coquis have declined in recent years except where habitats have been
destroyed ( Joglar, 1998). Most population estimates are from montane rather than lowland
habitats (Fogarty and Vilella, 2001). Because the coqui is an introduced species in the
United States, concerns about its conservation have not been expressed. In Hawaii, where
populations are expanding rapidly, the main concerns are not conservation but how to
eradicate the frogs (L. Woolbright, personal communication). It is assumed, without
evidence, that the frogs compete for food with native birds.
Literature references for Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, edited by Michael Lannoo, are here.
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