Ameerega braccata is a medium body dendrobatid frog with a male snout-vent length range from 20.3 - 25.2 mm and larger female snout-vent length range of 23.5 - 29.1 mm (Forti et al. 2013). It is physically similar to A. flavopicta (Haddad and Martins 1994). The head width ranges from 5.7 - 6.9 mm and the head length ranges from 6.0 - 7.2 mm. The tympanum distance is 0.9 - 1.4 mm. The eye diameter is 2.3 - 2.7 mm. From the eye to the nostril the distance is about 2.1 - 2.5 mm and the internarial distance is about 2.3 - 2.9 mm. The limbs are slender. The hand length range of 4.8 - 6.5 mm. They have small finger discs. The first finger is longer than the second and somewhat hooked. The third finger is longer than all but the hooked finger. They have a thigh length of 8.9 - 10.9 mm and a tibia length of 9.3 - 11.6 mm. Their foot length is about 8.3 - 10.1 mm. There is no webbing between toes and the T- shaped toe tips that are small. The skin is somewhat granular (Haddad and Martins 1994).
The tadpole’s head and body is depressed. The head is convex above and slightly flattened below. The eyes and nostrils are dorsolateral from a dorsal view. They have a body length of 3.6 - 4.2 mm are 10.1 - 11.3 mm in total length with the tail being approximately 60% of the body length. They have keratinized mouthparts (Haddad and Martins 1994).
Ameerega braccata have a range of color variations that span over the diagnostic colors of A. flavopicta, which makes it hard to distinguish the two species morphologically. However, A. braccata tends to have a lighter shade of orange on their thighs than A. flavopicta, which have red or bright orange thighs. Furthermore, A. braccata may have some brown marbling on their dorsal side, but A. flavopicta lacks marbling altogether and A. flavopicta has black limbs with yellow marks while A. braccata has brown limbs with black marks (Lotters et al. 2009).
Compared to Ameerega flavopicta, Ameerega picta, and Ameerega hahneli, Ameerega braccata on average has a shorter call duration and smaller number of notes (Forti et al. 2010).
In life, this frog has a black body with a pair of golden, yellow, or white lines that run along their lip to upper forearms. Another pair of golden, yellow, or white lines run along each side of the dorsum from snout to vent. Between the dorsal lines there may be another pair of lines or dots arranged in parallel rows. It may also have brown marbling on the back. On the ventral side, the skin is light brown to white and spotted with black marks (Lotters et al. 2009). At the posterior portion, the dorsolateral stripes transition from uniform orange to orange with some red flash marks that extend to the upper and lower surfaces of the thighs. These flash marks are also on the proximal half of the lower surface of the tibia and behind axillae. The underside is brownish white and has a scattering of small black spots concentrated near the ventrolateral area. The chest and the throat are brown (Haddad and Martins1994).
In preservative, tadpoles are completely brown with lighter brown fins in preservative (Haddad and Martins 1994).
Ameerega braccata vary in color (Haddad and Martins 1994).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Brazil
This species has only been found in the Cerrado region, a savanna of high temperatures and low humidity (Forti et al. 2010, 2013) of Brazil near the borders of Paraguay and Bolivia. It has been observed in: Chapada dos Guimarães and Barra do Bugres of Mato Grosso, and Cáceres of Mato Grosso do sul (Lotters et al. 2009, Guarino and Silvano 2004).
Haddad and Martin (1994) reported that this species lives and breeds in leaf litter in the Cerrado’s gallery forests, but more recent studies by Forti et al. (2010) have only found them in open areas of the Cerrado (Forti et al. 2010, 2013).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Ameerega braccata is terrestrial and diurnal (Forti et al. 2013).
Males call from perches such as leaves or shrubs in the open Cerrado habitat. Males claim a territory and kick their legs and lift their arms while producing advertisement calling to attract females. Calling lasts from before sunrise to mid-afternoon (Forti et al. 2013).
This species has three call types. The first is an advertisement call, consisting of one unpulsed note, with a range in frequency from 3.5 to 4.2 KHz, the dominant frequency being 3986.4 Hz. This call lasts an average of 65.8 ms. The second is a territorial call made up of five or six repeated notes (that have an average note duration of 66.2 ms) with a call lasting about 587.1 ms at the dominant frequency range of 3.5 - 4.37 kHz with an average of 4099.4 Hz. The third is a courtship call, which is used in close-range interactions between males and females during courtship, may reach frequencies between 2.2 - 5.3 KHz at the average dominant frequency of 3734.2 Hz. The notes used in this call are shorter, lasting on average 43 ms (Forti et al. 2010).
Females arrive in male territories in the early morning and when a female is in the vicinity, males switch to courtship calls. In response, the female may place her throat on the male’s head and on occasion touch his back with her hands, however this tactile behavior is not shown in all A. braccata. Males then guide females to oviposition sites by emitting courtship calls as the females follow about a meter behind. Ameerega braccata males display cephalic amplexus, like many other dendrobatids, in which they secure themselves on top of the female by wrapping the back of their front feet under the female’s throat (Forti et al. 2013).
Eggs are deposited in shaded spots of leaf litter, either in a shallow burrow or above ground. Eggs are about 5 mm in diameter and are deposited in masses of about 30 eggs (Forti et al. 2013).
Larvae are later deposited into nearby streams where they complete development (Guarino and Silvano 2004). Though there is not much information on reproduction for most Ameerega species including A. braccata, a related species, A. flavopicta, is known to have parental care by males, in which eggs would be laid in male territory and males would transport hatched tadpoles on their backs to a water source (Forti et al. 2013). There has also been one observed record of an A. braccata male carrying tadpoles (Haddad and Martins 1994).
Ameerega braccata seems to have a narrow food niche, eating ants, termites, mites, and ticks. Stomach analysis shows that ants are eaten the most, making them most likely to be ant specialists like many dendrobatids. Being an ant specialist implies that they forage often throughout the day (Toft 1980). Females tend to eat more Isoptera (termites) than ants, which may be because termites are more energetically valuable than ants (Biavati et al. 2004). It is possible that eating Acari (mites) contributes to the alkaloid toxins A. braccata have in their skin as dendrobatids (Forti et al. 2011).
Trends and Threats
Threats to this species are fires that destroy their habitats and agricultural development for crops and livestock (Guarino and Silvano 2004). Because these frogs are so small, even the slightest changes in microhabitat may affect their survival - for example, Forti et al. (2013) noted that disturbance of the leaf litter by an observer may have led to the desiccation of an egg clutch when it was revisited three days later.
Relation to Humans
Many species in this genus are legally and illegally harvested for the pet trade (Azevedo-Ramos et al. 2004).
The species authority is: Steindachner, F. (1864). "Batrachologische Mittheilungen." Verhandlungen des Zoologisch-Botanischen Vereins in Wien 14: 239–288.
Ameerega braccata is a part of the Dendrobatidae family. Ameerega braccata may be the sister taxa to A. flavopicta based on genetic evidence (Haddad and Martins 1994). Based on morphological characteristics and on uncorrected p-distances of a 564 bp fragment of the 16S mitochondrial rRNA gene, A. braccata is considered a part of A. picta species group along with A. altamazonica, A. flavopicta, A. boehmei, A. hahneli, A. picta sensu stricto, A. rubriventris, and A. yungicola (Lotters et al. 2009).
The species was originally described as Dendrobates braccata before being downgraded to a subspecies of Dendrobates picta in 1952. When the species was elevated to the species level again in 1989, it was under the name Epipedobates braccatus. An analysis of the then known amphibian tree of life in 2006 indicated that the clade including D. braccata and D. picta was unique and they were subsequently moved to Ameerega (Frost et al. 2011).
Azevedo-Ramos, C. et al. (2004) Ameerega flavopicta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: eT55222A1127325 Downloaded on 20 February 2018.
Biavati, G.M., Wiederhecker, H.C., and Colli, G.R. (2004). ''Diet of Epipedobates flavopictus (Anura:Dendrobatidae) in a Neotropical Savana.'' Journal of Herpetology, 38(4), 510-518.
Forti, L. R., Mott, T., and Strüssmann, C. (2010). ''Acoustic communication and vocalization microhabitat in Ameerega braccata (Steindachner, 1864) (Anura, Dendrobatidae) from Midwestern Brazil.'' Brazilian Journal of Biology, 70(1), 211-216.
Forti, L. R., Mott, T., and Strüssmann, C. (2013). ''Breeding biology of Ameerega braccata (Steindachner, 1864) (Anura: Dendrobatidae) in the Cerrado of Brazil.'' Journal of Natural History, 47(35-36), 2363-2371.
Forti, L. R., Tissiani, A.S.O., Mott, T., and Strüssmann, C. (2011). ''Diet of Ameerega braccata (Steindachner, 1864) (Anura: Dedrobatidae) from Chapada dos Guimarães and Cuiabá, Mato Grosso State, Brazil.'' Brazilian Journal of Biology, 71(1), 189-196.
Frost, D. (2020) Ameerega braccata Amphibian Species of the World. http://research.amnh.org/vz/herpetology/amphibia/amphib/basic_search?basic_query=ameerega+braccata&stree=&stree_id=
Guarino, C., and Silvano, D. (2004). Ameerega braccata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: eT55218A11271566. Download 19 February 2018.
Haddad, C. F. B., and Martins, M. (1994). “Four Species of Brazilian Poison Frogs Related to Epipedobates Pictus (Dendrobatidae): Taxonomy and Natural History Observations.” Herpetologica, vol. 50, no. 3, 1994, pp. 282–295.
Lotters, S. et al. (2009) “Another case of cryptic diversity in poison frogs (Dendrobatidae: Ameerega) description of a new species from Bolivia.” Zootaxa 2028, pp. 20-30.
Starrett, P. (1960). ''Descriptions of tadpoles of Middle American frogs.'' Miscellaneous Publications Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 110, 5-37.
Steindachner, F. (1864). Batrachologische Mittheilungen. Verhandlungen des Zoologisch-Botanischen Vereins in Wien 14: 239–288.
Toft, C.A., (1980). “Feeding ecology of thirteen syntopic species of anurans in a seasonal tropical environment.” Oecologia, vol. 45, p. 131-141.
Written by Eun Sun Kim, Asia Jones, Andra George (eslkim AT ucdavis.edu), University of California, Davis
First submitted 2020-02-03
Edited by Maxine Weber (2020-02-24)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2020 Ameerega braccata <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/1657> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 5, 2020.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2020. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 5 Jul 2020.
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