AmphibiaWeb - Dendropsophus phlebodes


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Dendropsophus phlebodes (Stejneger, 1906)
San Carlos Dwarf Treefrog, San Carlos Treefrog
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Hylinae
genus: Dendropsophus
Dendropsophus phlebodes
© 2018 William Flaxington (1 of 10)

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Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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Males reach a maximum SVL of 23.6 mm, while females reach 28.2 mm (Duellman 1967). The head is as wide as the body, and the top of the head is flat. The snout is short and truncate. The canthus is rounded and is not distinct. Prevomerine teeth (2-5) are present on small angled raised areas between the small choanae. The tympanum is partially obscured at the upper edge by a thin supratympanic dermal fold, which extends from the posterior corner of the eye to just above the insertion of the arm. The arm is short and robust, with a distinct axillary membrane present, and the fingers are long and thin with large discs. Fingers are approximately one-third webbed. Breeding males do not have nuptial pads. Hindlimbs are moderately short and robust, lacking a tarsal fold. The foot has a low, flat, elongated metatarsal tubercle. Toes are about three-fourths webbed, and moderately long and thin, with discs not as enlarged as those on the hand. Dorsally, and on most surfaces, the skin is smooth, but ventrally, the skin is granular on the belly and the proximal ventral surfaces of the thigh. Males have paired vocal slits extending from the midlateral base of the tongue out to the angles of the jaws, with a single median subgular vocal sac that is highly distendable (Duellman 2001).

Dendropsophus phlebodes has a yellowish-tan dorsum with weak darker brown markings that usually consist of dashes or a network of lines, an interorbital bar and a scapular X-shaped marking, and often including a thin brown stripe running from the snout to the eye and above the tympanum. This stripe usually extends far as the axilla, but in some specimens may extend to midflank, or be absent entirely. Some specimens also have a narrow white line above the canthus, but never a distinct white stripe posterior to the eye and bordering the lateral brown stripe. The belly is white, the flanks are pale yellow, and the thighs are yellow. Shanks are tan with brown bars. The iris is a creamy bronze, with brown specks and a brown wash adjacent to the anterior and posterior of the pupil. Breeding males have a yellow vocal sac (Duellman 2001).

A tadpole at developmental stage 36 has a total length of approximately 21.0 mm and a body length of 6.7 mm. The body is slightly wider than deep. Nostrils are large and the snout is pointed. The small eyes are dorsolateral and are directed laterally. Neither teeth nor papillae are present in the small terminal mouth, though it has serrated beaks. The spiracle is posteroventral to the eye and sinistral, while the anal tube is dextral. The caudal musculature of the xiphicercal tail is moderately deep. The dorsal fin extends onto the body and is deep, while the ventral fin is shallower (Duellman 2001).

Dorsal surfaces of the tadpole are reddish tan mixed with brown mottling. A brown stripe runs from the snout through the eye to the posterior of the body. The belly is white and blotched with brown and black, while the caudal musculature is a grayish tan The caudal fins are heavily blotched with grayish tan as well, culminating in a gray tail tip. The larval iris has a red center surrounded by orange-tan (Duellman 2001).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama

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This species is found along the Atlantic versant in the northern part of its range (Nicaragua to eastern Panama) and along both the Atlantic and Pacific versants from central Panama into northwestern Colombia. It also extends just across the Continental Divide in northwestern Costa Rica. It occurs from 20-700 m above sea level. Dendropsophus phlebodes lives primarily in lowland humid forests and breeds in shallow temporary ponds with grassy vegetation (IUCN 2006; Duellman 2001).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Males call throughout the year, but more often form large breeding choruses at the beginning of the rainy season (Savage 2002; Duellman 2001). Calls are made from elevated sites 1-2 m high within emergent vegetation (grasses, reeds, or sedges) near the edges of shallow, grassy, temporary ponds (Duellman 1967; Savage 2002) or flooded meadows (Schwartz and Wells 1984). Males are occasionally found on broad-leafed emergent plants (Duellman 1967). Breeding activity peaks on the second or third night after a heavy rain (Duellman 1967). In contrast, the presence of a cloudless sky and full moon has a significant dampening effect on breeding, even after heavy rains (Duellman 1967). In response to competing calls, males synchronize their calls, increase their calling rate, and add click notes (Savage 2002). In Panama, Dendropsophus phlebodes has been found calling in mixed choruses including D. microcephalus and D. ebraccatus (Wilczynski et al. 1993). Males of this species may also emit a long aggressive call when another male approaches (Savage 2002).

The mating call is an insect-like 'creek-eek-eek-eek'(Savage 2002). The multipart advertisement call is composed of a single, long unpaired primary note, alone or followed by up to 28 shorter unpaired secondary notes. Each note is constructed of a train of pulses. The primary note, which lasts 13 to 15 pulses, has a duration of 0.07 to 0.016 seconds while the secondary notes range from 0.04 to 0.12 seconds in duration. If secondary notes are produced, the male emits 210 to 350 secondary notes per minute. The dominant frequency varies from 3220 to 4067 kHz (Duellman 2001; Fouquette 1960; Wells 1988; Wilczynski et al. 1993).

Amplexus is axillary and occurs in the water. Eggs are deposited into and float on water and are usually attached to emergent vegetation. An average of about 400 eggs are deposited in small clusters (Duellman 1967; Roberts 1994). The tadpoles live in the shallow parts of the pond and can be found most frequently around submergent vegetation (Duellman 2001). They are most numerous between August and October (Savage 2002).

The adult diet consists of arthropods (Guyer and Donnelly 2005).

Trends and Threats
This species is moderately common and appears to be able to tolerate some degree of habitat disturbance (IUCN 2006).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants

The name phlebodes derives from the Greek words "phlebos" (vein) and "odes" (like), referring to the vein-like pattern of dorsal markings (Duellman 2001).

A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).


Duellman, W. E. (1967). ''Courtship isolating mechanisms in Costa Rican hylid frogs.'' Herpetologica, 23(3), 169-183.

Duellman, W. E. (2001). The Hylid Frogs of Middle America. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca, New York.

Fouquette, M. J. (1960). ''Isolating mechanisms in three sympatric tree frogs in the Canal Zone.'' Evolution, 14, 484-497.

Guyer, C., and Donnelly, M. A. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica and the Caribbean Slope: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press, Berkeley.

IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. (2006). Global Amphibian Assessment: Dendropsophus phlebodes. Accessed on 25 May 2008.

Roberts, W.E. (1994). ''Evolution and ecology of arboreal egg-laying frogs.'' Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley

Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica:a herpetofauna between two continents, between two seas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA and London.

Schwartz, J. J. and Wells, K. D. (1984). ''Vocal behavior of the neotropical treefrog Hyla phlebodes.'' Herpetologica, 40, 452-463.

Wilczynski, W., McClelland, B. E., and Rand, A. S. (1993). ''Acoustic, auditory, and morphological divergence in three species of neotropical frog.'' Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 172, 425-438.

Originally submitted by: Stephen Chu (first posted 2008-04-11)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2009-11-02)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2009 Dendropsophus phlebodes: San Carlos Dwarf Treefrog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 19, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 19 Jul 2024.

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