© 2007 Dr. Peter Janzen (1 of 4)
This species has a black ground color, with two thin golden, orange, or green dorsolateral stripes extending from the base of the thigh and meeting at the snout (Silverstone 1976; Myers et al. 1978). The dorsal surfaces of the limbs are covered in gold, orange, blue, or green dots, and the ventral surface is black with blue or green dots (Silverstone 1976). Dotting is relatively sparse on the venter and more concentrated on the limbs (Silverstone 1976). The stripes are green or light yellow, and the ventral dots are always blue on individuals from Serranía de Baudó (Silverstone 1976). On individuals from the upper San Juan drainage, the stripes are yellow, light or dark yellow-orange, or light brownish gold (Silverstone 1976). There is a second form; some individuals, from above the Playa de Oro on the upper Rio San Juan, are larger and have broader dorsolateral stripes that are sometimes blended together by an orangish dorsal suffusion into one yellow-orange or red-orange stripe (Silverstone 1976; Myers et al. 1978).
Phyllobates aurotaenia juveniles are black with golden dorsolateral stripes, like P. terribilis juveniles. However, young P. aurotaenia have blue or green ventral spotting, which is not present in P. terribilis (Myers et al. 1978).
Tadpoles of all Phyllobates species, including P. aurotaenia, have an emarginate, "normal" oral disc (meaning the oral disc is not umbelliform). The larval vent tube is dextral (Grant et al. 2006).
Distribution and Habitat
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Calls are usually made from a concealed location under fallen leaves or logs, but occasionally while sitting on fallen leaves (Silverstone 1976). The call has been described as a "loud, bird-like, whirring twitter, consisting of rapidly repeating notes" (Silverstone 1976), with a duration of 4-11 seconds (Silverstone 1976). This call is repeated after intervals lasting from several seconds up to 45 seconds (Silverstone 1976). The dominant frequency is higher than 2000 Hz (Myers et al. 1978).
Trends and Threats
Relation to Humans
Per frog, the larger P. terribilis have about 27x the amount of batrachotoxin-homobatrachotoxin as the smaller P. aurotaenia. When normalized for skin weight, P. terribilis has about nine times the amount of batrachotoxin-homobatrachotoxin in the same amount of skin (100 mg) as P. aurotaenia. For batrachotoxinin A, P. terribilis has 4x the amount of toxin per frog as the smaller P. aurotaenia, or 1.3x as much toxin by equivalent skin weight. The third species of frog used for poisoning darts, P. bicolor, seems to be roughly equivalent in toxicity to P. aurotaenia (Myers et al. 1978).
The Chocó name for P. aurotaenia, kökoé, is pronounced "kohng-KWAY" (Silverstone 1976).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Myers et al. (1978) speculates that there may be a cline between P. aurotaenia and P. bicolor, or hybridization, in the upper San Juan drainage. The largest specimens, which have the broad, fused dorsal stripes, come from above Playa de Oro on the upper Rio San Juan; these individuals more closely resemble P. bicolor in both coloration and size (Silverstone 1976; Myers et al. 1978). Phyllobates bicolor has a uniformly colored orange (red-orange, orange, or yellow-orange) dorsum lacking stripes. Phyllobates bicolor is also slightly larger (38.2 mm average size) than the broad-striped form of P. aurotaenia (32.1 mm average size), which is in turn larger than the narrow-striped form (26.3 mm average size).
Silverstone (1976) comments that the narrow-striped form more closely resembles P. lugubris and P. vittatus, but is separated from them by a distributional gap in Panama.
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.
Myers, C. W., Daly, J. W., and Malkin, B. (1978). ''A dangerously toxic new frog (Phyllobates) used by Emberá Indians of Western Colombia, with discussion of blowgun fabrication and dart poisoning.'' Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 161, 307-366.
Silverstone, P.A. (1976). ''A revision of the poison arrow frogs of the genus Phyllobates Bibron in Sagra (Family Dendrobatidae).'' Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Bulletin, 27, 1-53.
Written by Shelly Lyser (slyser AT berkeley.edu), URAP
First submitted 2005-03-04
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2008-02-02)
Feedback or comments about this page.
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.