Species Description: Brown JL, Twomey E 2009 Complicated histories: three new species of poison frogs of the genus Ameerega (Anura: Dendrobatidae) from north-central Peru. Zootaxa 2049:1-38.
Ameerega ignipedis has relatively small hands. The relative lengths of the fingers are: I ≈ II ≈ IV < III. With the exception of the weakly expanded disc on finger II, the discs are all moderately expanded. The disc on finger III is 1.5 times wider than the fingertip of the next finger. There is a large, circular outer metacarpal tubercle at the median base of the palm. At the base of finger I is a smaller inner metacarpal tubercle. On fingers I and II, there is one well-developed and prominent subarticular tubercle, and there are two tubercles are on fingers III and IV. Ameerega ignipedis has relatively short hind limbs. When the heel is appressed along the body, it reaches the shoulder. The relative lengths of the toes are: I < II < V < III < IV. While obvious, the first toe is so short it barely reaches the bottom of subarticular tubercle on base of second toe. It also has an unexpanded disc. In contrast, toes II and V have barely expanded discs and toes III and IV are expanded. The somewhat protuberant, moderate-sized inner and small outer metatarsal tubercles have rounded surfaces. Similarly to the hands, toes I and II have one protuberant subarticular tubercle, toes toes III and V have two, and toe IV has three, with the proximal tubercle on toe IV being reduced. There are no tarsal tubercles. The toes have fringes, but they lack basal webbing. There are no supernumerary tubercles, lateral fringes, or webbing on the hands and feet (Brown and Twomey 2009).
Their skin is granular on the dorsal surfaces of the head, body, and hind limbs. The skin on the sides of the head, forelimbs, body, and ventral surfaces is smooth (Brown and Twomey 2009).
Ameerega ignipedis is most closely related to a clade including A. bassleri, A. pepperi, and A. yoshina. However, A. ignipedis can be differentiated from all of them because A. ignipedis is larger and has a yellow, orange, or red dorsum. Ameerega ignipedis appears the most similar to A. pongoensis, A. petersi, A. simulans, and A. smaragdina, because all of them have brown or black dorsums with green or yellow dorsolateral stripes. Some individual A. ignipedis possess a spot on the medial face of the tibia, which immediately distinguishes them from the four similar species. However, for the individuals that do not have this spot, they can be differentiated based on body size, advertisement call, coloration, and pattern on the ventrum. More specifically, A. ignipedis has a smaller snout-vent length than A. petersi and A. smaragdina. Furthermore, A. ignipedis has a yellower dorsolateral stripe and lighter blue stomach than A. smaragdina (blue without marbling) and some populations of A. petersi (green). Ameerega simulans is smaller and lacks spots above the axillae and groin. Ameerega pongoenses can be differentiated by the lack of distinct yellow spots above the groin and by its advertisement call. Ameerega ignipedis has regularly repeated notes with a rate of two notes per second while A. pongoenes’s call consists of a single- or double-peep that is irregularly repeated with one note (or note couplet) about every two seconds (Brown and Twomey 2009).
In life, the dorsum is brown along the vertebrate and becomes patterned with weak black marbling further from the center of the back until it is completely black on the sides. There is a pale yellow dorsolateral stripe that starts at nares, passes over the eyelids, and continues posteriorly on the sides of the animal, becoming more bright before ending a bright yellow spot above the groin. The dorsolateral lines are twice as wide at the groin than at the head. Additionally, there is a pale yellow labial stripe starting at the nares, extending posteriorly, and ending as a weakly defined yellow patch above the posterior insertion of the arm. The sides of the animal are black from the groin to snout, and there is a pale yellow ventral margin that fades to sky-blue ventrally. The dorsal surfaces of the upper forelimbs are yellow-bronze and ventrally are conspicuously yellow. The dorsal surface of the lower forelimbs is brown and ventrally is sky-blue with black reticulation. The dorsal surfaces of the hind limbs are brown with irregular black marking while the ventral surfaces are sky-blue with black reticulation. On the medial surface of the tibia near the knee, there is a conspicuous yellow spot. The hands and feet are brown dorsally. The ventral surface of the limbs, belly, and head are sky-blue with an irregular reticulum of thick black lines. The iris is black (Brown and Twomey 2009).
In 70% alcohol, the color is similar to the color in life with the main differences being that the brown on the dorsum turns to grey, and the cream yellow dorsolateral stripes turns to silver-white. Additionally, the flash marks fade from yellow to cream yellow and the blue coloration on the venter fades to slate-blue (Brown and Twomey 2009).
The most prominent variation in A. ignipedis is the presence or absence of a yellow shank spot in different individuals. The width of the dorsolateral stripe and amount of reticulation also varies, to the point where in some individuals the stripe blends completely with ventral reticulation. Anteriorly, the dorsolateral line may end at the eyelids or extend to the superior part of the snout (Brown and Twomey 2009).
Distribution and Habitat
The species occurs in lower montane rainforest, at elevations around 240 m. However, this habitat is more reminiscent of higher elevation forests in the east Andean versant than the surrounding lowlands. Individuals were observed near streams, both in the forest and the vegetation growing in the sandy banks. Some of the streams they were found along were geothermal streams reaching temperatures of 90oC (Brown and Twomey 2009).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The type locality of the species is along a geothermal spring. The authors camped at the confluence of the warm spring, which reached temperatures of 90oC, and a cool-water stream. The species was found along both banks but in greater abundance at the hot-water stream (Brown and Twomey 2009).
The advertisement call for Ameerega ignipedis sounds like a ‘retarded trill’. The call is composed of regularly-spaced ‘peeps’ that had a rate of repeated of about 1.7 notes per second. The internote interval was 287 – 752 ms with each note lasting an average of 97 ms. The dominant frequency was slightly modulated, beginning at 4398 Hz at the start of the note and building to 4730 Hz. Calls were several minutes long. Males call throughout the day, particularly after heavy rain (Brown and Twomey 2009).
One male was seen carrying tadpoles near a flowing stream. The authors assumed that the male was depositing the tadpoles in the stream, behavior atypical of Ameerega, who typically deposit tadpoles in still water bodies, because they couldn’t find other water sources nearby (Brown and Twomey 2009).
Trends and Threats
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Based on Bayesian Inference using data from 1682 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA (12s, 16s, and cytochrome b), A. ignipedis is most closely related to the clade including A. bassleri, A. pepperi, and A. yoshina (Brown and Twomey 2009).
The species epithet, “ignipedis” is a Latin adjective meaning “fiery-footed”, referring to the fact that the type locality is located alongside a geothermal stream (Brown and Twomey 2009).
Brown, J. L., and Twomey, E. (2009). ''Complicated histories: three new species of poison frogs of the genus Ameerega (Anura: Dendrobatidae) from north-central.'' Zootaxa, 2049, 1-38.
Written by Connor M. French and Ann T. Chang (connor.french AT siu.edu), Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
First submitted 2018-02-22
Edited by Ann T. Chang (2018-06-19)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2018 Ameerega ignipedis <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/7275> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 2, 2020.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2020. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 2 Jun 2020.
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