Ameerega trivittata is a diurnal and terrestrial frog species that is part of the Dendrobatidae family with a snout-venth length of more than 35 mm, making it one of the largest Dendrobates frog. The females are slightly larger than the males with females growing up to 50 mm and males up to 42 mm. It has a snout that slightly projects. The tympanum is roughly half of the eye's diameter. Its back has fine granules and its lateral and ventral sides are smooth. Ameerega trivittata does not have webbing on its fingers or toes. The first finger is longer than the second. Their skin is toxic (Rodriguez and Duellman 1994; Ouboter and Jairam 2012; Cole et al. 2013). Similarly to others of its genus, A. trivittata can be identified by synapomorphies such as its granular dorsal skin texture that contain rounded or flattened granules that are distributed densely and evenly; in most dendrobatids, such as Epipedobates the granules and tubercles are irregularly scattered across the dorsal surfaces (Grant et al. 2006).
Ameerega trivittata differs from other frogs of its genus by a number of characteristics including its coloration and size (larger). It is also toothless, which allows differentiation between it and the sympatric toothed A. bassleri that has similar patterns (Silverstone 1976).
Both its front and hind legs are yellow-green to green to light-brown. The hind legs often have some black spots on them. Both the dorsum and the flanks are black. The ventral side is also black, but its posterior has green to blue markings. The hands and feet are green with scattered pale blue spots and the arms and legs are dark green. The posterior of the thighs is black with blue spots on them. The abdomen is black with irregular pale blue or cream spots. It has two lateral stripes on either side: a dorso-lateral stripe that is green to yellow from the snout to the hind legs and a lighter, whitish stripe that goes from the eye to the front and hind leg on the ventro-lateral side. In juveniles the two green-to-yellow stripes are usually all yellow. It has large spots in the armpit and the groin. It has a black venter with blue spots and a dark brown iris (Ouboter and Jairam 2012).
There are variations in coloration in specimens in different regions. In the Guianan Region, the lateral stripes can either be green, yellow-green, yellow, or orange. Although the dorsum is still black, there is no median dorsal stripe. In Suriname, A. trivittata displays green spots on the dorsal side of the limbs and light blue spots on the belly and ventral surface of the limbs (Cole et al. 2013).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
Ameerega trivittata can be found on the forest floor of primary and secondary growth tropical rainforests at an elevation of 20 to 680 meters (Cole et al. 2013). It is found in both terrestrial and freshwater habitats. The species is found 500 meters above sea level in Bolivar state, Venezuela, and Guyana, Suriname. It is also found in the Amazon basin in Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and northwestern Bolivia (La Marca et al. 2004). In Suriname, the frogs live in mesophytic forests, such as savanna forests and wet mountain forests from streams. It is usually found on forest floor when it is silent, but is usually found on fallen tree-trunks when calling (Ouboter and Jairam 2012).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Ameerega trivittata lays terrestrial eggs, which the males take care of. The eggs are kept in clutches that are hidden under fallen leaves. The males transport the tadpoles to a suitable water source outside of the range of the male territory after they have hatched. In nature, it takes about 14 to 17 days to go from fertilization to hatching, and another 41 to 54 days after hatching to reach metamorphosis (Roithmair 1994; Silverstone 1976).
Calling and reproduction activity are at their highest during the rainy season (from May to October) and more or less cease during dry seasons, although there have been reports of calling and reproduction occurring year-round in Suriname (Ouboter and Jairam 2012). Males have two types of calls: a long-ranged advertisement call and a short-ranged courtship call. The sound pressure is 79 dB. The courtship calls have a lower sound density than the advertising calls (67 - 70 dB). Most of the calling activity happens in the morning (Roithmair 1994; Twomey, Morales, and Summers 2008).
Males are territorial and females are not. Males call to establish territories while perched on elevated positions (such as branches) at about 15 - 165 cm above ground, and can gain a preference for their calling sites, which can be reused up to 11 days. Their territory size ranges from 4 - 156 m2. There is no correlation between male body size and mating success; their mating success is dependent on the territory size, calling activity, and length of residency. Territorial males try not to stay too close together, with the closest distance between two territories being 5.8 m. Male-male interspecific competition is strong, especially in the first thirty days, and an increase in interspecific density can reduce the individual's survival in both lowlands and highlands. Fighting can occur between males if they get too close and is characterized by wrestling and pouncing one another with their forelimbs. Females do not display any signs of aggression. Females choose mates based on how many days they called on their territory (the longer the better) and how large their territory is. They will sometimes visit multiple territories before choosing a mate. Courtship and mating takes place in the territory. Territoriality is only for mating and not for food defense since they prey on abundant ants (Roithmair 1994; Twomey, Morales, and Summers 2008).
Trends and Threats
This species is threatened by deforestation. The species is also affected by the international pet trade, but it is not found illegally traded often enough to be a major threat (La Marca et al. 2004).
Relation to Humans
This species is thought to be illegally sold in the pet trade (La Marca et al. 2004).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Ameerega trivittata, along with Colostethus talamancae and C. marchesianus, is an outgroup to other frogs of the the Dendrobates family (Roberts et al. 2006). The Ameerega genus is a sister group to Colostethus genus. This species has undergone several genus name changes due to the unclear phylogeny. Silverstone (1975) believed at this species should be classified under the Phyllobates genus because of finger morphology and chromosome evidence. He divided the Phyllobates genus into 4 groups and grouped this species together with Phyllobates bassleri into the trivittatus group due to their similar color. This group was later characterized by its vocalizations too. Myers (1978) reclassified the genus Phyllobates and the trivittatus species complex to the genus Epipedobates. Bauer (1986) later assigned the Ameerega genus to the trivittatus group. The clade is now identified by its synapomorphies (See Diagnosis) and its location because the Ameerega clade is found on in the Andes. The Ameerega genus is monophyletic with Allobates, Dendrobates, Epipedobates, Mannophryne, Oophaga, Phyllobates, and Ranitomeya (Grant et al. 2006).
This species was previously known as Epipedobates trivittatus and Hyla trivittata (La Marca et al. 2004).
This species was featured as News of the Week on 16 April 2018:
There is mounting evidence that most amphibians are pretty good at finding their way home. Recently, Pašukonis et al. (2018) strapped tiny radio transmitters to Three-striped Poison Frogs (Ameerega trivittata) to see how well they could navigate back to their home territories after being moved different distances. Ameerega trivittata are particularly interesting to study because they lay their eggs on land and once they hatch, adult males move their tadpole young via piggyback to bodies of water. Thus, Ameerega trivittata may be especially talented at finding their way around the forest. The researchers found that even when the frogs were moved further away from their home than they would normally travel, the frogs could navigate straight back to their home territory. This means the frogs may have a map-like navigation system; however, it is still uncertain what cues from the environment the frogs use to find their way home (Written by Molly Womack).
This species was featured as News of the Week on 15 July 2019:
The larvae-toting parental care of many species of the Family Dendrobatidae is known to be an effective way to ensure tadpoles have food and protection while they develop. A study by Pašukonis, Loretto and Rojas (2019) asked further about the role of this parental shuttling in dispersal. With tiny radio transmitters, they tracked two poison frog species (Ameerega trivittata and Dendrobates tinctorius) and found that they moved their offspring farther and to many more water sources than expected, with little regard to suitable, nearby pools. Examining the spatial patterns of the far-ranging fathers, the authors speculate on the adaptive benefits of ensuring the dispersal of their offspring to reduce competition and possible inbreeding against the increased costs and risks associated with long-distance travel. Their study highlights the parental role in offspring dispersal and the spatial acuity of these poison frogs (Written by Michelle Koo.)
Cole C.J., Townsend C.R., Reynolds R.P., MacCulloch R.D., and Lathrop, A. (2013). ''Amphibians and reptiles of Guyana, South America: illustrated keys, annotated species accounts, and a biogeographic synopsis.'' Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 125(4), 317-578.
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.
La Marca E, Azevedo-Ramos C, Silvano D, Barrio Amorós CL (2004). Ameerega trivittata. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 21 October 2013
Ouboter, P. E., Jairam, R. (2012). Amphibians of Suriname. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Roberts, J. L., Brown, J. L., von May, R., Arizabal, W., Presar, A., Symula, R., Schulte, R., and Summers, K. (2006). ''Phylogenetic relationships among poison frogs of the genus Dendrobates (Dendrobatidae): a molecular perspective from increased taxon sampling.'' Herpetological Journal, 16, 377-385.
Rodríguez, L. O., and Duellman, W. E. (1994). Guide to the Frogs of the Iquitos region, Amazonian Perú. The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.
Roithmair, M.E. (1994). ''Male Territoriality and Female Mate Selection in the Dart-Poison Frog Epipedobates trivittatus (Dendrobatidae, Anura).'' Copeia, 1994(1), 107-115.
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.
Twomey, E., Morale, V., Summers, K. (2008). ''Evaluating condition-specific and asymmetric competition in a species-distribution context.'' Oikos, 117(8), 1175-1184.
Originally submitted by: Samantha Morco (first posted 2013-11-15)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang, Michelle S. Koo (2023-01-09)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Ameerega trivittata: Three-striped Poison Frog (English) <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/1675> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 1, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 1 Apr 2023.
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