AmphibiaWeb - Pristimantis mariaelenae


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Pristimantis mariaelenae Venegas & Duellman, 2012
family: Strabomantidae
genus: Pristimantis
Species Description: Venegas PJ, Duellman WE 2012 Two syntopic new species of the Pristimantis orestes Group (Anura: Strabomantidae) from northwestern Peru. Zootaxa 3249: 47-59.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Data Deficient (DD)
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Pristimantis mariaelenae is a robust bodied frog with a snout-vent-length ranging from 16-19.4 mm for males, and 23.7-27.8 mm for females. The head is narrow and wider than it is long, though it is not as wide as the body. The snout is short and round at both lateral and dorsal views. Both tympanic annulus and tympanic membrane are present and distinct. A large, thick fold over the tympanum partially obscures its edges on the posteroventral and posterodorsal sides. The tympanic membrane diameter is 58% that of the eye diameter. Upper eyelid is covered in nodules. The dorsum is shagreen with small tubercles throughout, the highest density being on the posterior end. The skin on the flanks and the cloacal region are also covered in tubercles. In contrast, the skin on the chest, belly, throat and ventral surfaces of the thighs are far smoother. The dorsolateral folds are weak, becoming discontinuous posteriorly, and the discoidal folds are indistinct. The hind limbs are slender with the upper surfaces of the hind legs being covered in tubercles. The heel has one low tubercle and the outer surfaces of the tarsus have low tubercles. A short, inner-tarsal ridge is present. The inner metatarsal is defined, prominent, elliptical, round in ventral view and subconical in lateral view, and three times larger than those in the low tubercles. The toes lack lateral fringes and webbing. The discs on the toes are nearly as large as those on the fingers. They are round and weakly truncated with the disc on the toe IV being the most prominent. The relative toe lengths are: 1<2<3>5<4. Toe V is slightly longer than toe III. Vocal slits are present on males. Males also have nuptial pads on dorsal and medial surfaces of the thumb (Venegas and Duellman 2012).

There are currently 15 other species in the Pristimantis group. P. mariaelenae has tubercles on the upper eyelid, the heel, and the outer edge of the tarsus which distinguish it from P. atrabacus, P. melanogaster, P. pataikos, P. pinguis, and P. stictoboubonus (all of which lack this feature). P. mariaelenae also has well-defined circumferential grooves on its barely-expanded discs, which P. simonsii and P. stipa sp. nov lack on their narrow discs. P. mariaeleneae lacks lateral fringes on the fingers, which are present in P. corrungatus and P. ventrigattatus. P. mariaelenae lacks cranial crests on its barely-expanded discs, which distinguish it from P. chimu and P. seorsus, both of which have narrow discs and cranial crests. The lack of dorsal tubercle and papillae on P. mariaelenae distinguish it from P. cordovae, which has small rostral papillae. Its rounded snout and tuberculated heel and tarsus separate P. mariaelenae from P. bambu, which has a gradually tapering snout in dorsal view and lacking tubercles in the heel and tarsals. The weak or evident dorsolateral fold on P. mariaelenae distinguishes it from P. orestes and P. simonbolivari, which lack the dorsolateral fold altogether (Venegas and Duellman 2012).

Coloration in life: In the female holotype, the dorsum is entirely reddish-ochre. The lips, canthus rostralis (or rostral crest), and supratympanic fold are orange-ochre. The groin, posterior surfaces of the thighs, and dorsal surfaces of the feet are all red-ochre with irregular white patches. The chest and ventral surfaces are pearly white. The throat is pearly white with orange-ochre spots. The belly is also pearly white, but with dark brown spots. Palms of feet and hands are orange-ochre. The iris is dark copper with a network of thin, brown lines.

Coloration is highly variable in both males and females. The female dorsum can range from being homogenously red-ochre (as in the holotype), to being reddish brown flanked with well-defined, black lateral folds. Females could also have the same coloration as the holotype except have an additional orange-ochre spot in the middle of the scapular region. They can also have the ventral surface be orange ochre instead of pearly white. Male dorsal coloration can vary from dark brown with green interorbital (in between the eyes) and dorsolateral (along the sides) stripes to a homogenous dark brown dorsum. The mid-dorsal stripe can also vary in color ranging from cream, yellow, and dark brown in adults (Venegas and Duellman 2012).

Coloration in preservation: In ethanol, the dorsum becomes homogenously dark brown. The lips, canthus rostralis (or rostral crest), and supratympanic fold become cream. The groin, posterior surfaces of the thighs, and dorsal surfaces of the feet turn dark brown with jagged cream patches. The chest, belly, throat, and palmar and plantar surfaces are also cream while the belly has some scattered brown blotches (Venegas and Duellman 2012).

Variation: Females are larger than males. Prominence of dorsolateral fold of males and females varies. Degree of tuberculation on dorsal surface differs between adult males and juveniles; nodules on dorsum of juveniles are more distinct. The color of the dorsum of juvenile males is dark green, further distinguishing them from adult males (Venegas and Duellman 2012).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Peru

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P. mariaelenae has been found only at the type locality in northwestern Peru, in humid high-elevation montane puna grassland above tree line at 3596 m above sea level. The area on the eastern side of the Cordillera Occidental is dominated by bunch grass (Stipa) and scattered with small bushes (Baccharis sp.) and elfin forest patches. All specimens were found under rocks close to a small stream by day or at the base of bunch grass (Venegas and Duellman 2012).

Trends and Threats
The main threat to strabomantid frogs, according to Duellman and Lehr, is habitat destruction, particularly through agriculture, environmental contamination and deforestation (as cited in Venegas and Duellman 2012). This species inhabits puna habitat, grasslands that are slow to recover, which are especially sensitive to overgrazing by cattle.

Species is named after the senior author’s mother, Maria Elena Venegas.


Venegas, P. J., and Duellman, W. E. (2012). ''Two syntopic new species of the Pristimantis orestes Group (Anura: Strabomantidae) from northwestern Peru.'' Zootaxa, 3249, 47-59.

Originally submitted by: Adolfo Ivan Gomez (first posted 2012-10-26)
Edited by: Michelle S. Koo (2012-10-28)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2012 Pristimantis mariaelenae <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 12, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 12 Jun 2024.

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