[This account was originally written for Hypsiboas geographicus] This is medium to large frog having a maximum length of 55 mm for males and 75 mm for females (Bartlett and Bartlett 2003). It varies greatly in color and patterning and may possibly be a species complex (Stuart et al. 2008) Skin is smooth (Duellman 1973). Fingers are one-half webbed and toes are three-quarters webbed (Bartlett and Bartlett 2003). A triangular calcar (heel spur) is a distinguishing characteristic (Duellman 1973). Breeding males have nuptial pads (Bartlett and Bartlett 2003) and a single median subgular vocal sac (Duellman 1973).
The presence of webbing on the hand and the reticulated palpebrum distinguish this species from H. calcarata and H. fasciata (Duellman 1973).
This species undergoes ontogenetic change in coloration. Tadpoles are all black while recently metamorphosized frogs are creamy tan with black flecks on the dorsal surfaces. Young froglets also have grayish venters and black flanks, anterior and posterior thighs, and inner shank surfaces. With growth, adult pigmentation replaces juvenile coloration and the dorsal black spots, frequently including an X-shaped scapular marking. The black markings on the flanks and thighs concentrate to create patterning or bars in adults, though young breeding males sometimes still retain black thighs and flanks. Sides are a clean gray. The venter is white or orange in adult frogs, and may be creamy or have black spots, the latter particularly in larger females. Webbing is brown except in individuals from Bolivia and southern Peru, which have red webbing. The iris is reddish brown and the palpebrum (eyelid) has striking reticulations (Bartlette and Bartlett 2003; Duellman 1973).
Individuals from the same locality may be boldly or lightly marked. There is also variation in coloration based on locality. Specimens from Bolivia and southern Peru have black ventral spotting on the throat and belly and red webbing. Trinidad specimens have some ventral spotting but have brown webbing (Duellman 1973).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela
Found below 500 m except in Ecuador where this species has been reported from elevations up to 1,200 m asl (Stuart et al. 2008). Occurs in many different habitats, from primary forest (along streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes, and in gaps in the forest), flooded savannahs, disturbed areas such as gravel pits, and in Brazil, in Pantanal and Cerrado habitats (Bartlett and Bartlett 2003; Duellman 1978; Rodríguez and Duellman 1994; Stuart et al. 2008).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The Map Frog is nocturnal and arboreal (Stuart et al. 2008). Males call from branches or vegetation near or above water. At Santa Cecilia, Ecuador, breeding H. geographicus were found only at a lakeshore and not at temporary ponds or swamps, whereas at Belém, Brazil, males called from varzea forest (Duellman 1973).
They are most often heard during the rainy season (Bartlett and Bartlett 2003); calls have been reported at Santa Cecilia, Ecuador, from September to March; at Belém, Brasil, in February, March, June, and July; at Pilcopata, Peru, in January; and at Chipiriri, Bolivia, in February (Duellman 1973). Vocalization is likened to a moaning sound interrupted with chuckles (Bartlett and Bartlett 2003). The length of the call is variable; some H. geographicus produce short notes, others long notes, and some produce both. However, there is no consistent correlation of call note length with coloration (Duellman 1973).
Breeding occurs at the edge of rivers and quiet pools. Females can lay up to 2000 eggs at a time (Bartlett and Bartlett 2003). Eggs are laid in water (Stuart et al. 2008). The tadpoles are unpalatable to fish and are therefore able to survive in ponds where other types of tadpoles cannot. However, they are susceptible to larval insect predators, such as aeshnid dragonfly larvae. This contrast is due to toxins in the skin being a deterrent to fish predators but not a deterrent to invertebrates that suck fluids from the body of the tadpole (Caldwell 1989).
Adult Hypsiboas geographicus are incapable of quick escape from predators and instead use several other methods to alter their appeal. One often-used method is death-feigning, performed by folding the limbs in tightly, closing the eyes and remaining immobile. To make ingesting difficult for the predator, the frog may also inflate its lungs or extend its legs above its head. It may also empty its bladder, emit a disagreeable odor, or vocalize a rapid distress call (Azevedo-Ramos 1995).
Tadpole schools exhibit two types of behavioral patterns: stationary and continually moving. The stationary pattern has a thermoregulatory function, while the continuous motion pattern is preferred during tadpole grazing. In the stationary pattern, the tadpoles are in a single, two-dimensional layer and alternate between periods of movement and periods of stillness. As they drift apart, they resume swimming and direct themselves toward the center of the school and by doing so, create a tightly packed aggregation. The continually moving pattern is three-dimensional, giving the appearance of something slowly rolling, and refers to the entire movement of the school as a whole (Caldwell 1989).
Trends and Threats
This species is present in a number of protected areas. Within Ecuador these include Parque Nacional Sangay, Parque Nacional Sumaco Napo-Galeras, Parque Nacional Yasuní, Reserva Biológica Limoncocha, and Reserva de Producción Faunística Cuyabeno (Stuart et al. 2008).
Synonymous with Hyla geographica (Azevedo-Ramos et al. 2010)
This species was featured in news of the week January 23, 2023:
Biological reserves provide protected refugia against human-mediated habitat degradation, which is one of the strongest conservation concerns for amphibians. The Manu Biosphere Reserve is one of the most biodiverse places on earth with over 155 amphibian species. Serrano-Rojas et al. (2022) surveyed 70 of the amphibian species recorded in the Manu Biosphere Reserve within five sites that span a land-use gradient in the park buffer zone (immigrant agricultural land, forests used by three Indigenous communities, and a regenerating forest) in addition to a reference site in its core protected area. They found the richness and diversity of amphibians in the regenerating forest and the indigenous communities’ forests were similar to that of the core protected area, whereas agricultural land had lower richness and was dominated by generalist species. Their findings underscore that supporting sustainable livelihood activities, cultural practices, and forest protection, which are observed in many Indigenous communities, could help avoid a shift towards intensive agriculture, fulfilling a crucial conservation role. (Written by Molly Womack)
Azevedo-Ramos, C. (1995). ''Defense behaviors of the neotropical treefrog Hyla geographica.'' Revista Brasileira de Biologia, 55(1), 45-47.
Azevedo-Ramos, C., La Marca, E., Coloma, L. A., Ron, S., Hardy, J. (2010). Hypsiboas geographicus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. . Downloaded on 19 February 2013
Bartlett, R. D. and Bartlett, P. (2003). Reptiles and Amphibians of the Amazon. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
Caldwell, J. P. (1989). ''Structure and behavior of Hyla geographica tadpole schools, with comments on classification of group behavior in tadpoles.'' Copeia, 1989(4), 938-950.
Duellman, W. E. (1973). ''Frogs of the Hyla geographica group.'' Copeia, (3), 515-531.
Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.
Originally submitted by: Michelle Iwaki (first posted 2004-04-26)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker, Ann T. Chang, Michelle S. Koo (2023-01-22)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Boana geographica: Map Treefrog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/801> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jan 29, 2023.
Feedback or comments about this page.
Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 29 Jan 2023.
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.