Eleutherodactylus gundlachi is a small frog, with females measuring up to 26 mm in SVL, and males less than that. The dorsum of the body is strongly plicate and rugose. The digital discs are very small. There is no webbing between the toes. Vomerine teeth, behind the choanae, are present in a long series (Barbour 1914; Schwartz and Henderson 1985; Schwartz and Henderson 1991).
This frog is dark brown or olive-brown, variegated with light and dark. The concealed surfaces of the thighs are red and the sides of the body are reddish. The venter is whitish-gray with the anterior area spotted with brown. There are two or three transverse crossbars in the dorsal region of the femurs (Barbour 1914, Schwartz and Henderson 1985, Schwartz and Henderson 1991).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Cuba
This species is endemic to Cuba and it is found only in the Sierra Maestra and Sagua-Baracoa mountains, in southeastern Cuba. This is a terrestrial species found under rocks, logs and leaf litter of deep hardwood forests. It occurs from 650 m to 1375 m in elevation (Schwartz and Henderson 1991).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
These frogs are active at night. Males vocalize from the ground and rock piles. Calls are very faint and composed of four notes (Schwartz and Henderson 1991).
Other aspects of the natural history of this species are unknown.
Trends and Threats
This species is threatened by habitat destruction and deforestation, due to agriculture, woodcutting, disturbance from tourists, and infrastructure development for human settlement (Hedges and Diaz 2004).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Eleutherodactylus gundlachi is a member of the subgenus Euhyas (Heinicke et al., 2007).
Etymology- Named after the distinguished naturalist Johannes Gundlach (Schmidt 1920), who collected and studied many Cuban amphibians and reptiles.
Synonyms include Eleutherodactylus plicatus (Barbour 1914).
This species was featured as News of the Week on 9 August 2021:
Amphibians are good study subjects to test whether differences in reproductive phenology may separate niche space and thus allow for increased numbers of co-occuring species given limited resources. Bignotte-Giró et al. (2021) studied five endemic Eleutherodactylus species* that coexist in a mountain rainforest in Cuba to test the hypothesis that in Neotropical humid sites, reproductive activity in sympatric species will vary in the time of occurrence in order to minimize complete temporal overlap. Reproductive phenology was inferred from seasonal variation in the number of sexually active individuals, their gonad developmental stage, and male vocal activity from January 2003 to March 2004. The study found no support for the hypothesis of temporal segregation in reproduction and instead found a prolonged reproductive pattern in all five species, with decreased breeding intensity in the cooler months (November–February). Thus, if niche diversification is occurring, it must be explained along different ecological parameters than reproductive phenology. (*E. auriculatus and E. dimidiatus are widely distributed across the island, whereas E. cuneatus, E. gundlachi, and E. intermedius are known only from the eastern ranges of Cuba.) (VVredenburg)
Barbour, T. (1914). ''A contribution to the zoogeography of the West Indies, with special references to amphibians and reptiles.'' Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 44(2), 209-359.
Hedges, S. B. and Díaz, L. M. (2004). Eleutherodactylus gundlachi. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. http://www.iucnredlist.org/. Downloaded on 11 November 2007.
Heinicke, M. P., Duellman, W. E., Hedges, S. B. (2007). ''Major Caribbean and Central American frog faunas originated by ancient oceanic dispersal.'' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(24), 10092-10097.
Schmidt, K. P. (1920). ''Some new and rare amphibians and reptiles from Cuba.'' Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New York, 33, 3-4.
Schwartz, A., and Henderson, R. W. (1985). A Guide to the Identification of the Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies Exclusive of Hispaniola. Milwaukee Public Museum, Inland Press, Milwaukee.
Schwartz, A., and Henderson, R. W. (1991). Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies. Descriptions, Distributions, and Natural History. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, Florida, USA.
Originally submitted by: Ansel Fong G. (first posted 2007-11-07)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker, Michelle S. Koo (2021-08-08)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Eleutherodactylus gundlachi: Turquino Spiny Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/2955> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 26, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 26 Mar 2023.
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