Dyeing Poison Frog
© 2008 Edgar A. Wefer (1 of 96)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname
The forests are humid, always have rocky streams of running water, and are relatively cool, with temperatures dropping up to 22-27 degrees C at night. Dendrobates tinctorius is found under cover, such as rocks and moss, near streams. It usually stays on the ground, but is also found at heights up to 5 m in trees.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species was featured as News of the Week on 16 July 2018:
The startlingly bright colors and intricate patterns of Neotropical poison frogs are icons of warning coloration. Barnet et al. (2018) show in a recent paper that at least in Dendrobates tinctorius, the bright color patterns may simultaneously scream "Here I am!" to nearby would-be predators, yet be relatively undetectable to predators farther away. They measured the frog’s complex patterns of yellow and blue on a black background as perceived by different types of potential predators (reptiles, birds, mammals). Using a machine learning algorithm, they assessed the ability of different visual systems to discriminate D. tinctorius from a leaf litter background at different distances. Close up, discrimination by each visual system was highly accurate, but far away, discrimination declined dramatically. In the field, they used model frogs with different color patterns to show that cryptic (brown and black) models had fewer predation attempts against a natural leaf-litter background, whereas background did not affect the attack rates on purely aposematic (bright yellow) models. The tinctorius color pattern also had lower attack rates against the natural background, indicating an element of protective camouflage. Experiments with human "predators" trying to find frogs on a computer screen showed the tinctorius color pattern was just as aposematic as the bright yellow morph close-up, but from a distance was just as hard to see as cryptic coloration. They conclude a kind of perceptual averaging occurs, in which the different colors of the intricate pattern blend together at a distance, making the frogs virtually invisible in their natural background (Written by Kyle Summers).
Walls, J. G. (1994). Jewels of the Rainforest: Poison Frogs of the Family Dendrobatidae. J.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey.
Wollenberg, K. C., Veith, M., Noonan, B. P., and Lotters, S. (2006). ''Polymorphism versus species richness—systematics of large Dendrobates from the Eastern Guiana Shield (Amphibia: Dendrobatidae).'' Copeia, 2006(4), 623-629.
Written by Franziska Sandmeier (franturtle AT yahoo.com), UC Berkeley
First submitted 2006-12-29
Edited by Kellie Whittaker; updated by Ann T. Chang (2019-03-06)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2019 Dendrobates tinctorius: Dyeing Poison Frog <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/1646> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 27, 2019.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2019. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 27 May 2019.
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