Epipedobates narinensis
Narino Poison Frog
family: Dendrobatidae
subfamily: Colostethinae
Species Description: Mueses-Cisneros JJ, Cepeda-Quilindo B, Moreno-Quintero V 2008 Una nueva especies de Epipedobates (Anura: Dendrobatidae) dle suroccidente de Colombia. Pap. Avulsos Zool. Mus. Zool. San Paulo 48:1-10.

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status
CITES Appendix II
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


Diagnosis: Small species of Epipedobates, with males measuring 15.3-16.9 mm SVL, n = 12), females unknown; finger I much longer than II; finger III swollen; basal webbing present on toes II-III-IV; metatarsal fold absent; dorsal skin finely granular; dorsal coloration in life dark green; pale faintly defined oblique lateral stripe; thin ventrolateral stripe and medial longitudinal throat stripe, abdomen mottled with spots and/or dark reticulations (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008).

Description: Males measure 15.3-16.9 mm SVL. Head width is 32.5-35.3% of SVL and 88.8-96.5% of head length. Snout tilted and projecting slightly over the lower jaw in lateral view and weakly rounded in dorsal view. Nostrils directed dorsolaterally, not visible dorsally. Tympanum medium-sized, 32.6-47.6% of the diameter of the eye; tympanic ring concealed posterodorsally; tympanic fold absent; canthus rostralis slightly defined; straight to weakly concave loreal region inclined toward the upper lip. Relative length of fingers III>I>II>IV; finger I much longer than finger II (128.3-134.8% of finger II, avg. of 130.8%); finger III swollen; finger IV extends to the middle of the distal subarticular tubercule of finger III (although in some specimens it reaches only to the edge of the distal subarticular tubercule of finger III); palmar tubercle single, large, rounded, and protuberant; thenar tubercle prominent, elongated and located at the outer edge of the base of the thumb; single well-defined subarticular tubercle on fingers I and II and two subarticular tubercles on fingers III and IV, with the distal tubercle poorly defined and less protuberant; fingers lack webbing; supernumerary tubercle absent. Relative length of toes IV>III>V>II>I; toes I-IV bear thin dermal flanges; webbing present on toes II-III-IV, with webbing formula II 2-3.5 III 3-4 IV; inner metatarsal tubercle elongate, about 1.5 to 2 times the size of the rounded outer metatarsal tubercle; supernumerary plantar tubercles absent; subarticular tubercles prominent, one on toes I and II, two on toes III and V, three on toe IV; tarsal keel prominent, curved internally, not extending from the inner metatarsal tubercule. Dorsal skin of head, eyelids, and body is finely granular to smooth, ventral skin smooth to slightly granular. Metatarsal fold absent. Postrictal tubercles absent, cloacal tubercles absent. In males, both testes generally have moderate black pigment, with some specimens having right testis white and left moderately pigmented, and some having both testicles white (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008).

Color: Adult males have a dark green dorsum with black flanks, a faint poorly-defined bright green oblique lateral line extending from the groin to halfway up the body, and light green to blue-green ventrolateral line extending from the groin to the lip; axilla and anterior thigh stained with light green; fingertips light green to blue green; venter light green, mottled with spots and/or reticulations; gular region green with medial light stripe and with two black stripes (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008).

Coloration in ethanol: dorsum black to dark brown; venter gray to cream with black to dark brown spots and / or rounded reticulations, very thin gray oblique lateral line on the thigh and groin, reaching only up to 1/4 body length, very faint continuous gray ventrolateral line most evident from the upper lip to the axilla, throat with a medial stripe, dark chest spots that may be interconnected (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008).

Similar species; E. narinensis shares with E. boulengeri and E. espinosai the presence of a medial longitudinal chin stripe, but can be distinguished by having finger I much longer than finger II (128.3-134.8%, avg. 130.8%), versus finger I slightly longer (110.8%) than finger II in E. boulengeri and E. espinosai. Additionally, E. narinensis can be distinguished from E. boulengeri and E. espinosai by coloration in life and in preservative: in life, E. narinensis is dark green with light green ventrolateral and lateral oblique lines, whereas E. boulengeri is brown to reddish-brown with red, yellow, or white ventrolateral and lateral oblique lines, and E. espinosai is red with a turquoise lateral oblique line, and an interrupted ventrolateral line. Preserved, E. narinensis has a black to dark brown dorsum, with the lateral oblique line faintly visible, and a gray venter mottled with black blotches, while E. boulengeri has a brown dorsum with dark brown flanks, ventrolateral and lateral oblique lines clearly visible, and a cream or white venter with dark spots, and E. espinosai has a brown dorsum and a cream venter with dark brown spots. Although only a very young tadpole was examined (stage 25), It may be possible to distinguish larvae of E. narinensis by differences in the dorsal fin: in E. narinensis the dorsal fin rises after ⅓ the length of the tail, while in E. espinosai the fin occurs at the junction of body and tail. Another species that could potentially be confused with E. narinensis is Ranitomeya viridis, a small green species. However, R. viridis is smaller, has finger I much shorter than finger II, lacks webbing on toes II-III-IV, is metallic green with no pattern of lines, and lacks the medial longitudinal throat stripe (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008).

Tadpoles: At stage 25, the total length is 8.2 mm and body length is 3.2 mm, corresponding to 39% of the total length total. Body ovoid and depressed; midbody width 2.2 mm. Snout rounded in dorsal and lateral view. Nares small, circular, directed anterolaterally. Lateral line system not obvious. Posterior supraorbital and loreal lines just noticeable on the right side of the body. Spiracle sinistral, poorly visible, located approximately 56% down body length (from tip of rostrum). Cloacal tube free then directed slightly right. Tail length 5.0 mm, 61% total length, muscle flow tapering gradually to the distal edge; tail width at the junction with the body 0.8 mm, height of caudal musculature at the junction of the tail with the body 1.2 mm; 1.5 mm maximum height; fin of tail rises 1.7 mm from the body (approximately 34% of the tail length), where it rises sharply to the distal part of the tail. Oral disc is located ventrally and is emarginate. Dental formula 2 / 3 (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008).

Coloration of the tadpole in formalin: Anterior part of the body dorsally brown with light cream spots; postorbital region to the junction of the tail cream with dark brown blotches, middorsal region of the tail joining with the body is dark brown; intestines cream; light cream ventrally with irregular coffee spots; cream intestinal region, stained with coffee spots laterally; cream tail with dark brown spots that may extend to a lesser degree on the fins; eye black, gray pupil (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Colombia

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
E. narinensis is found in the southwestern Pacific lowlands of Colombia, in the departments of Nariño, Cauca, and Valle del Cauca. This species primarily inhabits wet, lowland tropical rainforests, occurring from sea level up to 1460 m asl in elevation (Bolívar et al. 2008). It has also been associated with more open habitats, such as oil palm plantations and shrub-dominated habitat (Urbina-C. and Londoño-M. 2003).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species appears to be diurnal and terrestrial, with most individuals encountered active in the leaf litter during the daytime (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008).

Males have been recorded calling from March to August (Lötters et al. 2003). The male advertisement call is classified as a “chirp” call which consists of a maximum of three note groups, separated by short intervals, and lasts less than 2 seconds. In comparison to E. narinensis, the call of E. boulengeri is much longer and contains more notes (Lötters et al. 2003). Eggs are laid on the ground, and males carry larvae on their back. Males have been observed to transport 2 or 3 larvae at a time (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008). Nothing is known about the development or diet of larvae in this species.

The diet of E. narinensis has not been studied but it is most likely similar to that of E. boulengeri in Ecuador, whose adults have a generalist diet consisting of a variety of insects and their larvae (Darst et al. 2005).

Most species in Epipedobates exhibit aposematic coloration and have toxic skin. However, the skin of E. narinensis may not be noxious to predators, as a study of toxicity in Dendrobatidae detected no alkaloids in the skin of the closely related E. boulengeri (Darst et al. 2005).

Trends and Threats
Epipedobates narinensis has not yet been evaluated as to population status by IUCN. However, the closely related species Epipedobates boulengeri, from which E. narinensis was split, has been classified as Least Concern (LC) due to its wide distribution, presumed large population, and tolerance of habitat disturbance (Bolívar et al. 2008). Though little is known about population trends throughout its range, E. narinensis can be very abundant locally (Urbina-C. and Londoño-M. 2003).

Threats faced by this species include: deforestation due to agricultural development, planting of illicit crops, loss of forest habitat due to logging, development for human settlement, pollution due to pesticide/herbicide application on crops, and introduced predatory fish in streams. This species is collected for the international pet trade, but it is unknown whether this exploitation is great enough to pose a threat to populations. The fungal disease chytridiomycosis may be a threat (Bolívar et al. 2008).

Relation to Humans
Epibatidine, a chemical compound isolated from E. anthony (initially thought to be E. tricolor), has shown pain-killing potency up too 200 times that of morphine (Traynor 1998). However, it is unlikely that E. narinensis has toxins that are as powerful; its closest relative (E. boulengeri) lacks strong alkaloids in its skin secretions (Darst et al. 2005).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Habitat fragmentation
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Predators (natural or introduced)
Intentional mortality (over-harvesting, pet trade or collecting)
Weakened immune capacity
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.

Species authority: Mueses-Cisneros et al. (2008).

Etymology: The specific name was given as a tribute to the people of Nariño, Colombia (and the type locality in the department of Nariño) (Mueses-Cisneros et al. 2008).


Bolívar, W., Coloma, L.A. Ron, S., and Grant, T. (2008). Epipedobates boulengeri. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. Downloaded on 25 April 2011.

Darst, C. R., Menendez-Guerrero, P. A., Coloma, L. A., and Cannatella, D. C. (2005). ''Evolution of dietary specialization and chemical defense in poison frogs (Dendrobatidae): A comparative analysis.'' The American Naturalist, 165, 56-69.

Grant, T., Frost, D. R., Caldwell, J. P., Gagliardo, R., Haddad, C. F. B., Kok, P. J. R., Means, D. B., Noonan, B. P., Schargel, W. E., and Wheeler, W. C. (2006). ''Phylogenetic systematics of dart-poison frogs and their relatives (Amphibia: Athesphatanura: Dendrobatidae).'' Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, (299), 1-262.

Lötters, S., Reichle, S., and Jungfer, K. H. (2003). ''Advertisement calls of neotropical poison frogs (Amphibia: Dendrobatidae) of the genera Colostethus, Dendrobates, and Epipedobates, with notes on dendrobatid call classification.'' Journal of Natural History, 37(15), 1899-1911.

Mueses-Cisneros, J. J., Cepeda-Quilindo, B., and Moreno-Quintero, V. (2008). ''Una nueva especie de Epipedobates (Anura: Dendrobatidae) del suroccidente de Colombia.'' Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia, 48, 1-10.

Traynor, J. R. (1998). ''Epibatidine and pain.'' British Journal of Anaesthesia , 81, 69-76.

Urbina-C., J. N., and Londoño-M., M. C. (2003). ''Distribucíon de la comunidad de herpetofauna asociada a cuatro áreas con diferente grada de perturbacíon en la isla Gorgona, pacífico Colombiano.'' Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas Fisicas y Naturales, 27, 105-114.

Written by Rachel Anderson, Garrett Leidy, and Jonathan Rose (rbanderson AT, UC Davis
First submitted 2010-10-13
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2012-02-15)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2012 Epipedobates narinensis: Narino Poison Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 24, 2017.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 24 Mar 2017.

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