Physalaemus centralis
Central Dwarf Frog; rãzinha
family: Leptodactylidae

© 2004 Lucas Grandinetti (1 of 14)

  hear call (303.6K MP3 file)

  hear Fonozoo call

[call details here]

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
Other International Status None
National Status Brazilian Red List: Not Listed (
Regional Status Regional lists in the States where it occurs: Not Listed.


View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.


Physalaemus centralis belongs to the P. cuvieri species group (Nascimento et al. 2005; Frost 2007), and closely resembles the latter species, but differs from it by its larger size and body width (in dorsal view), the presence of two black spots in the sacral region, and the shorter head. The snout-vent length varies from 30 to 40 mm. Bokermann (1962) did not provide an accurate description, but briefly: Head wide. Tympanum distinct, measuring ½ of the eye diameter. Supratympanic fold very evident, reaching the base of the arm. Vocal sacs large. Arms strong and small. Subarticular tubercles presents. Tarsal tubercle present. General dorsal color pattern light gray, but can greatly vary to red or cream, with some individuals bearing a granular omega-shaped (Ω) mark on the dorsum. Throat blackish. Dorsal surface of the members with wide transversal stripes (Bokermann, 1962). It seems not to show sexual dimorphism (Brasileiro and Martins 2006).

The tadpole was described by Rossa-Feres and Jim (1993). Total length 20 mm at Gosner stage 37. Body ovoid in dorsal view and depressed/globular in lateral view. Snout rounded. Eyes large, dorsolaterally directed. Nares dorsal, small and rounded. Spiracle lateroventral, low on the left side, short and narrow, without free edge. Spiracle tube fused to the body wall, with elliptical opening, directed posteroventrally. Vent tube long, medial and partially fused with the fin. Oral apparatus emarginate laterally, with a single row of marginal papillae with dorsal and lateroventral gap, forming a ventral ridge with a variable number of papillae. Submarginal papillae absent. Jaw sheaths wide. Upper sheaths slightly convex. Lower sheaths widely V-shaped. LTRF 2(2)/2. The internal oral features were thoroughly described by Prado and Rossa-Feres (2005). Tail weakly convex. Caudal muscle heavy. General coloration brown, fins translucent, with marginal dark blotches, concentrated in the posterior third of the tail (Rossa-Feres and Jim 1993, Rossa-Feres and Nomura 2006).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay


View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
Physalaemus centralis is known from open areas associated with Atlantic semi-deciduous forest, Pantanal and the Cerrado formations of Minas Gerais, Distrito Federal, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Maranhão, Tocantins and São Paulo, Brazil; northeastern Paraguay; Departamento Beni, Bolivia. It occurs up to 1,000m asl. (Brandão et al. 1997; Kokubum and Menin 2002; Brusquetti and Lavilla 2006; Frost 2007; Brasileiro et al. 2008).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Physalemus centralis inhabits open areas and small forest fragments, and is sometimes found at the forest edge as well. Calling males can be found on low vegetation in a short period after heavy rains, associated with small temporary and permanent ponds, farm ponds, farm dams, marshes, puddles, and swamps in riparian areas. It is more abundant in the middle of the rainy season, which usually runs from October to early January (Brasileiro et al. 2005, Vasconcelos and Rossa-Feres 2005, Santos et al. 2007, Zina et al. 2007); Brasileiro and Martins (2006) reported that in the month with the highest abundance, 26 calling males were recorded on average in their study site (a large rectangular fish hatchery tank).

The species exhibits explosive breeding (Toledo et al. 2003, Vasconcelos and Rossa-Feres 2005, Santos et al. 2007). Amplexus is axillary; the oviposition lasts about 28 min (Brasileiro and Martins 2006). Females lay eggs in small foam nests (mean number of eggs is 1,872) anchored on the marginal vegetation at pond edge or floating on ponds. The tadpoles develop in lentic water bodies (reproductive mode 11 of Haddad and Prado 2005; Toledo et al. 2003; Brasileiro and Martins 2006; Zina et al. 2008). There are records of territoriality and physical combat (Brasileiro 1998). Development takes about one and a half months (Brasileiro and Martins 2006). There is a record of predation of foam nests by adults and maggots of the fly Beckeriella niger (Ephydridae) (Menin and Giaretta 2003).

The benthic tadpoles are found with highest abundance at the end of the rainy season (Santos et al. 2007) in shallow areas of the water bodies with emerging vegetation and mud (Brasileiro and Martins 2006). Larvae feed mainly on microalgae (Bacillariophyta and Cyanophyta) and protozoans (Sarcomastigophora) (Rossa-Feres et al. 2004). The diet of this species was found to be very similar to the co-occurring P. cuvieri tadpoles (Rossa-Feres et al. 2004).

Trends and Threats
Its range is within protected areas, like Estação Ecológica de Itirapina (São Paulo), FEENA (São Paulo), Reserva Biológica de Pindorama (São Paulo), Floresta Nacional de Silvânia (Goiás), and Estação Ecológica de Águas Emendadas (Distrito Federal) and others National and State Parks in Brazilian States. The populaton should be stable, since it is widely distributed in central Brazil and is considered a generalist species. However, it is not common, due to its explosive breeding habits (Brandão and Araújo, 1998, IUCN-GAA, 2004, Vasconcelos and Rossa-Feres, 2005). It does not adapt well to anthropogenic disturbance. It seems that the increasing conversion of natural vegetation in pasturelands and soybean culture, mainly in Central Brazil, may be a possible threat to this species.

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Prolonged drought
Drainage of habitat
Dams changing river flow and/or covering habitat
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Long-distance pesticides, toxins, and pollutants

The karyotype was described by Denaro (1972); the diploid number is equal to 22.

Pictures of the life cycle of Physalaemus centralis can be found in Brasileiro and Martins (2006). The epithet of this species (centralis) refers to its distribution in central Brazil.


Bokermann, W.C.A. (1962). ''Sobre uma coleção de anfíbios do Brasil central, com a descrição de uma espécie nova de Physalaemus.'' Brazilian Journal of Biology, 22, 213-219.

Brandao, R.A., Duar, B.A., Brito, A.C., and Sebben, A. (1997). ''Physalaemus centralis - Distribution extension.'' Herpetological Review, 28, 93.

Brandão, R. A. and Araújo, A. F. B. (1998). ''A herpetofauna da estação ecológica de águas emendadas.'' Vertebrados da Estação Ecológica de Águas Emendadas – História Natural de um fragmento de Cerrado do Brasil Central. J. S. Marinho-Filho, F. Rodrigues, and M. Guimarães, eds., Instituto de Ecologia e Meio Ambiente do Distrito Federal, Brasília.

Brasileiro, C. A., Lucas, E. M., Oyamaguchi, H. M., Thomé, M. T. C., and Dixo, M. (2008). ''Anurans, Northern Tocantins River Basin, states of Tocantins and Maranhão, Brazil.'' Check List, 4, 185-197.

Brasileiro, C.A. (1998). ''Physalaemus centralis: Male-male combat.'' Herpetological Review, 29, 165.

Brasileiro, C.A., Sawaya, R. J., Kiefer, M.C., and Martins, M. (2005). ''Amphibians of an open cerrado fragment In southeastern Brasil.'' Biota Neotropica, 5, 1-17.

Brasileiro, C.A., and Martins, M. (1962). ''Breeding biology of Physalaemus centralis (Anura: Leptodactylidae) in southeastern Brazil.'' Journal of Natural History, 40, 1199-1209.

Brusquetti, F., and Lavilla, E.O. (2006). ''Lista comentada de los anfibios de Paraguay.'' Cuadernos de Herpetologica, 20, 3-79.

Denaro, L. (1972). ''Karyotypes of Leptodactylidae anurans.'' Herpetology, 6, 71-74.

Frost, D. R. (2007). Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 5.1 (10 October 2007). Electronic Database accessible at American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.

Haddad, C. F. B., and Prado, C. P. A. (2005). ''Reproductive modes in frogs and their unexpected diversity in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.'' BioScience, 55, 207-217.

Kokubum, M., and Menin, M. (2002). ''Physalaemus centralis - distribution extension.'' Herpetological Review, 33, 62.

Menin, M., and Giaretta, A. A. (2003). ''Predation on foam nests of Leptodactyline frogs (Anura: Leptodactylidae) by larvae of Beckeriell niger (Diptera: Ephydridae).'' Journal of Zoology, 261, 239-243.

Nascimento, L.B., Caramaschi, U., and Cruz, C.A.G. (2005). ''Taxonomic review of the species groups of the genus Physalaemus Fitzinger, 1826 with revalidation of the genera Engystomops Jiménez-de-la-Espada, 1872 and Eupemphix Steindachner, 1863 (Amphibia, Anura, Leptodactylidae).'' Arquivos do Museu Nacional, 63, 297-320.

Rossa-Feres, D. C., Jim, J., and Fonseca, M. G. (2004). ''Diets of tadpoles from a temporary pond in southeastern Brazil (Amphibia, Anura).'' Revista Brasileira de Zoologia, 21(4), 745-754.

Rossa-Feres, D. C., and Nomura, F. (2006). ''Characterization and taxonomic key for tadpoles (Amphibia: Anura) from the northwestern region of São Paulo State, Brazil.'' Biota Neotropica, 6, 1-26.

Rossa-Feres, D.C., and Jim, J. (1993). ''Tadpole of Physalaemus centralis (Anura, Leptodactylidae).'' Copeia, 1993, 566-569.

Santos, T.G., Casatti, L., and Rossa-Feres, D.C. (2007). ''Diversidade e distribuição espaço-temporal de anuros em região com pronunciada estação seca no sudeste do Brasil.'' Iheringia, 97, 37-49.

Toledo, L.F., Zina, J., and Haddad, C.F.B. (2003). ''Distribuição espacial e temporal de uma comunidade de anfíbios anuros do Município de Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brasil.'' Holos Environment, 3, 136-149.

Vasconcelos, T.S., and Rossa-Feres, D.C. (2005). ''Diversidade, distribuição espacial e temoral de anfíbios anuros (Amphibia, Anura) na região noroeste do Estado de São Paulo, Brasil.'' Biota Neotropica, 5, 1-14.

Zina, J., Ennser, J., Pinheiro, S. C. P., Haddad, C. F. B., and Toledo, L. F. (2007). ''Taxocenose de anuros de uma mata semidecí­dua do interior do Estado de São Paulo e comparações com outras taxocenoses do Estado, sudeste do Brasil.'' Biota Neotropica, 7, 1-9.

Written by Diogo Borges Provete (dbprovete AT, Department of Zoology and Botany, Universidade Estadual Paulista, campus São José do Rio Preto-SP, Brasil
First submitted 2008-09-12
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2009-01-20)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2009 Physalaemus centralis: Central Dwarf Frog; rãzinha <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Oct 20, 2017.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 20 Oct 2017.

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