AmphibiaWeb - Plectrohyla chrysopleura


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Plectrohyla chrysopleura Wilson, McCranie & Cruz-Díaz, 1994
Golden-sided Tree Frog
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Hylinae
genus: Plectrohyla
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Critically Endangered (CR)
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


Berkeley mapper logo

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.


Diagnosis: Can be distinguished from all other Honduran hylids other than Plectrohyla dasypus and P. psiloderma by having an enlarged, flat, shortened prepollex with a blunt distal end (McCranie and Wilson 2002).

P. chrysopleura can be distinguished from P. dasypus and P. psiloderma by the following combination of characters: (1) coloration in life: dorsal surfaces pale gray to brown, with or without darker mottling; yellow flash marks in axillary region, groin, and concealed limb surfaces; (2) coloration in preservative: dorsal surfaces uniform grayish brown to dark gray; axillary, groin and concealed limb surfaces dirty white with some gray flecks; (3) large body size (males and females reach up to 66 mm SVL); (4) spatulate maxillary teeth; (5) males with vocal slits (McCranie and Wilson 2002).

Description: Adult males measure 56.6-65.6 mm in SVL. Females measure 63.3-65.6 mm in SVL. The top of the head is slightly concave. The snout is semicircular to almost truncate in dorsal view and vertical to obtuse in lateral view. No rostral keel is present. The canthus rostralis is angular and the loreal region is slightly concave. Nostrils are directed laterally. The internarial region is slightly depressed near the point of canthal ridge convergence. Pupil is horizontally elliptical. Palpebral membrane is translucent. The tympanum is distinct and sometimes prominent. There is a well-developed supratympanic fold. The tongue is ovoid and slightly free at the posterior. Vomerine dentigerous processes lie on elevated, almost transverse ridges, between or just posterior to the choanae. Choanae are oval to elliptical. Maxillary teeth are spatulate. The upper arm is more slender than the robust forearm in both genders. On the upper surface of the wrist, there is a transverse dermal fold; no fold is present on the elbow. An incomplete dermal ridge of tubercles runs along the posterior edge of the forearm. No axillary membrane is present. Finger discs have rounded covers and expanded pads. Subarticular tubercles on fingers are large, round, and globular. Supernumerary tubercles are absent on fingers. Finger IV distal subarticular tubercle is sometimes bifid. The palmar tubercle is low and oval-shaped. Accessory palmar tubercles are small and globular. There is basal webbing between Fingers I and II. Some males have a distinct and enlarged prepollex bearing nuptial excrescences. When hindlimbs are adpressed, the heels overlap broadly. Toe discs have rounded covers and broadly expanded pads, and are only slightly smaller than those of the fingers. Subarticular tubercles are large and round on toes. Plantar tubercles are small and globular. There are lateral fleshy fringes present on unwebbed parts of the toes. No vertical dermal fold on heel. Distinct inner tarsal fold extends the full length of the tarsus. Vent opening is directed posteroventrally between mid and upper levels of thighs. Dorsum is weakly to moderately tuberculate. Throat and chest are granular. Skin of belly and ventral surfaces of thighs are coarsely areolate. Below the vent the skin is tuberculate. Males have paired vocal slits and a single median subgular vocal sac (usually not visible externally), and nuptial excrescences (McCranie and Wilson 2002; Wilson et al. 1994).

Coloration of Plectrohyla chrysopleura is smoke-gray with a slight bronze hue. Tympanum is pale copper-bronze. The lips are slightly lighter than the rest of the head. The iris is gold with black reticulations. Yellow flash marks are present on the side of the chest, underside of the arm, groin, anterior surface of the thigh, underside of the shank, upper surface of tarsus, and upper surface of the foot. The chin and the chest are both gray with a slight golden tint. Belly and undersurface of thigh are both gray with a yellow hue. Posterior thigh surface is golden yellow with dense olive-green smudging. Palms and soles are gray. Adult females and newly metamorphosed individuals have dark brown mottling on a cinnamon brown dorsal ground color, but this mottling vanished after live specimens had been in collecting bags for several hours (McCranie and Wilson 2002).

The body of a tadpole at Stage 36 is slightly depressed and a little wider than it is high. The snout is semicircular in dorsal view and rounded in profile. Eyes moderately large. Spiracle is sinistral. Vent tube is dextral. Caudal musculature is robust and extends nearly to the rounded tip of the tail. Dorsal fin terminates at posterior end of body. Oral disc is large and is not emarginated; it is surrounded by two rows of large marginal papillae. There is also a single row of larger submarginal papillae between both A1 and P3 tooth rows, expanding to 2-3 rows of submarginal papillae lateral to the jaw sheaths. Jaw sheaths are keratinized and medium-sized, with short pointed serrations. The upper jaw sheath is in the shape of a wide V. Labia tooth rows are 2/3; A2 has a narrow median gap, and P1 and P3 are subequal to P2 (McCranie and Wilson 2002; Wilson et al. 1994).

Tadpole body is brown. Caudal musculature is creamy-tan and the fins are clear; larger tadpoles have dark brown spots on the tail musculature and fins (McCranie and Wilson 2002).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Honduras

Berkeley mapper logo

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Northern Honduras (Cerro Búfalo and Quebrado de Oro, Sierra Nombre de Dios, Departamento Atlantida) on the Atlantic versant (McCranie and Casteñeda 2005) At Quebrada de Oro it is found at altitudes of 930-990 m asl, and on the southern slope of Cerro Búfalo it has been found at 1500-1550 m (McCranie and Casteñeda 2005). Occurs in premontane and lower montane wet forest, along streams (McCranie and Casteñeda 2005).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Plectrohyla chrysopleura is a stream-breeding species (Wilson et al. 1994). Males are found at night on large boulders in the splash zone or near the water, and adult females are found at night on vegetation or tree trunks above small streams or in the forest (McCranie and Wilson 2002). Tadpoles were found in plunge pools of small tributaries during May-August, and were sympatric with larvae of Ptychohyla spinipollex and Rana maculata (Wilson et al. 1994). Some tadpoles were collected in 1996 with deformed mouthparts (Wilson and McCranie 1998; McCranie and Casteñeda 2005); this can be a sign of chytrid infection (Fellers et al. 2001).

Trends and Threats
This species has declined severely (estimated at 80% over the decade between 1994 and 2004) and thus Plectrohyla chrysopleura is considered to be critically endangered (Stuart et al. 2008). Surveys in 1996 and 2003 recorded considrably fewer individuals, and tadpoles with deformed mouthparts (a symptom of chytrid infection) were collected in 1996 (McCranie and Casteñeda 2005). Clearing of the forest on the slopes above the Quebrada de Oro for temporary cropland resulted in massive landslides that impacted the stream, and three of the four anuran species (P. chrysopleura, Bufo chrysophorus, and Duellmanohyla salvavida, but not Ptychohyla spinipollex) reproducing in that section of the stream have declined (McCranie and Casteñeda 2005). P. chrysopleura is known from only the area of the type locality, which falls within Parque Nacional Pico Bonito (Stuart et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Prolonged drought
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.

The specific epithet chrysopleura is derived from the Greek words chrysos, meaning "gold", and pleura meaning "side", alluding to the yellow flash marks found on this frog (McCranie and Wilson 2002).

Species authority: Wilson et al. (1994).


Fellers, G. J., Green, D. E., and Longcore, J. E. (2001). ''Oral chytridiomycosis in the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana muscosa).'' Copeia, 2001(4), 945-953.

McCranie, J. R. and Casteñeda, F. E. (2005). ''The herpetofauna of Parque Nacional Pico Bonito, Honduras.'' Phyllomedusa, 4(1), 3-16.

McCranie, J. R., and Wilson, L. D. (2002). ''The Amphibians of Honduras.'' Contributions to Herpetology, Vol 19. K. Adler and T. D. Perry, eds., Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca, New York.

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.

Wilson, L. D., McCranie, J. R., and Cruz-Díaz, G. A. (1994). ''A new species of Plectrohyla (Anura: Hylidae) from a premontane rainforest in northern Honduras.'' Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 107, 67-78.

Originally submitted by: Sandya Iyer (first posted 2009-10-07)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2010-05-26)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2010 Plectrohyla chrysopleura: Golden-sided Tree Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 21, 2024.

Feedback or comments about this page.


Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 21 Jul 2024.

AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.