AmphibiaWeb - Dendropsophus minutus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Dendropsophus minutus (Peters, 1872)
Lesser Treefrog
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Hylinae
genus: Dendropsophus
Dendropsophus minutus
© 2018 Richard Sage (1 of 46)

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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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Cardoso and Haddad (1984) discussed geographically coherent acoustic differences among populations. Kaplan (1994) suggested that Dendropsophus minutus is a complex of species. The general diagnosis is: head short, snout rounded; dorsum orange, brown or tan, usually with a pair of dorso-lateral stripes that can be simple or elaborate. Belly whitish. Throat yellow in males and white in females. Coloured thighs, mainly in the females. Tympanum indistinct (Cei 1980; Kwet 1999; Bastos 2003).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela

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View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (22 records).
D. minutus has a widespread distribution from the lowlands east of the Andes from Colombia, Venezuela, and Trinidad southward through Ecuador, Peru and Brazil to Bolivia, Uruguay, until Argentina, up to 2000 m elevation (Frost 2004). This species may be considered very versatile, according to its wide range in latitude as well as in altitude (Cei 1980). It is an arboreal species but during breeding time it is commonly found in open grasslands near shallow waters.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Hemipterans and Aranaea are important components of the diet of D. minutus, but individuals of Homoptera and Diptera can also be part of the diet (Sluys & Rocha 1998).

Males usually call from grass, emergent aquatic plants, or low shrubs next to the water. Their short, shrill calls produce loud mass concerts, heard from dusk until after midnight (Kwet 1999). Kwet (2001) registered a dominant frequency of 3600-5800 Hz, and 4040-4840 Hz as maximum. Two mating strategies have been reported: the calling male and the satellite male (Haddad 1991). Territorial disputes were observed by Cardoso & Haddad (1984); different calls and physical combat behavior to defend calling sites have been observed by Haddad (1987). The amplexus is axilar. Egg-laying occurs in standing water bodies, such as ponds or large puddles. Spawning period from September to February (Kwet 1999).

The larval morphology was studied by Vizotto (1967) and the microanatomy of the buccal apparatus and oral cavity were described by Echeverria (1997). The tadpole is characterized by its high orange and black coloured tail fin and a dark line ranging from snout to eye. It is free-swimming and feeds mainly on algae (Kwet 1999). Tadpoles raised in laboratory were observed to feed on commercial fish food and plant material. Peixoto (1997) suggested that tadpoles of D. minutus could be facultatively carnivorous.

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Predators (natural or introduced)


Dendrosophus brevifrons differs by having a white horizontal bar below the eyes, and a brown dorsum without hourglass markings.

This species was previously within the genus Hyla but has recently been moved to the resurrected genus Dendropsophus (Faivovich et al. 2005). It is likely a complex of several species.

This species was featured as News of the Week on December 15, 2014.

An emerging biodiversity pattern is that of single amphibian species that are widespread across a continent are found to be complexes of several cryptic species. These are species that are difficult to distinguish without detailed analysis of traits such as mating calls in frogs or DNA sequences. An extreme example is the species Dendropsophus minutus, which extends over several ecoregions, including the wet forests of Amazonia, the coastal Atlantic forests of southeastern Brazil, to dry scrub forest of the Caatinga. Depending on the region, the species occurs from sea level to 2000 m asl. Using mtDNA sequences, Gehara and 29 co-authors (2014) identified 43 lineages within the single "species," many of which may represent cryptic species. The distribution of one lineage covers more than 1 million km2. This broad-brush study is an important first step in documenting taxonomic and biogeographic patterns of Neotropical biodiversity that beg for deeper analysis (Written by David Cannatella).
This species was featured in News of the Week 14 August 2023:
Amphibians are found across a wide range of elevations, from sea level to above 5,000 meters, exposing them to a wide range of climates. The climate variability hypothesis predicts that organisms exposed to more temperate variation will be able to function across a wider range of temperatures. Bovo et al. (2023) tested the thermal tolerances of five species of frogs that are distributed across mountains in Brazil's Atlantic Rainforest. They found differences among species in temperature tolerance, but did not always find that broader temperature variation at increasing elevations correlated with broader temperature tolerance. In addition, they did not find a consistent difference in water loss or water uptake across altitude or climates. Overall, they did not find strong support for the climate variability hypothesis or for elevation shaping these physiological traits. (MWomack)

Amphibians of Rio Claro Farm by Fabio Maffei and Flavio Ubaid (2014).


Bastos, R. P., Motta, J. A., Lima, L. P., and Guimaraes, L. D. (2003). Anfíbios da Floresta Nacional de Silvânia, Estado de Goiás. Stylo Gráfica e Editora, Goiânia.

Cardoso, A. J., and Haddad, C.F.B. (1984). ''Variabilidade acústica em diferentes populações e interações agressivas de Hyla minuta (Amphibia, Anura).'' Ciência e Cultura, 36(8), 1393-1399.

Cei, J. M. (1980). ''Amphibians of Argentina.'' Monitore Zoologica Italiano, New Series Monografia, Firenze, 2, 1-609.

Echeverria, D. D. (1997). ''Microanatomy of the buccal apparatus and oral cavity of Hyla minuta Peters, 1872 larvae (Anura, Hylidae), with data on feeding habits.'' Alytes, 15, 26-36.

Faivovich, J., Haddad, C. F. B., Garcia, P. C. A., Frost, D. R., Campbell, J. A., Wheeler, W. C. (2005). ''Systematic review of the frog family Hylidae, with special reference to Hylinae: phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision.'' Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, (294), 1-240. [link]

Frost, D. R. (2003). ''Amphibian Species of the World: An Online Reference.'' Electronic database available at American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.

Haddad, C. F. B. (1987). Comportamento reprodutivo e comunicacao sonora de Hyla minuta Peters, 1872 (Amphibia, Anura, Hylidae). Unpublished Master's thesis, Universidad Estadual de Campinas, São Paulo.

Haddad, C. F. B. (1991). ''Satellite behavior in the Neotropical treefrog Hyla minuta.'' Journal of Herpetology, 25, 226-229.

Izecksohn, E., and Carvalho-e-Silva, S. P. (2001). Anfí­bios do Municí­pio do Rio de Janeiro. Editora UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro.

Kaplan M. (1994). ''A new species of frog of the genus Hyla from the Cordillera Oriental in northern Colombia with comments on the taxonomy of Hyla minuta.'' Journal of Herpetology, 28(1), 79-87.

Kwet, A. (2001). Frösche im brasilianischen Araukarienwald. Natur und Tier-Verlag, Münster.

Kwet, A. and Di-Bernardo, M. (1999). Anfíbios - Amphibien - Amphibians. EDIPUCRS, Porto Alegre.

Peixoto, O. L., and Gomes, M. R. (1997). ''Hyla minuta: tadpole behavior.'' Herpetological Review, 28(3), 146-147.

Rocha, C. F. D., and Van Sluys, M. (1998). ''Feeding habits and microhabitat utilization by two syntopic Brazilian Amazonian frogs (Hyla minuta and Pseudopaludicula sp. (gr. falcipes).'' Rev. Brasil. Biol., 58(4), 559-562.

Vizotto, L. D. (1967). Desenvolvimento de Anuros da regiao norte-ocidental do estado de Sao Paulo. Unpublished thesis, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras, Zoologia, São Paulo.

Originally submitted by: Camila Both, Geraldo Carvalho and Mirco Sole (first posted 2004-05-27)
Edited by: Tate Tunstall, Michelle S. Koo (2023-08-13)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Dendropsophus minutus: Lesser Treefrog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 23, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 23 Jun 2024.

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