AmphibiaWeb - Hyloscirtus conscientia


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Hyloscirtus conscientia Yánez-Muñoz, Reyes-Puig, Batallas-R., Broaddus, Urgilés-Merchán, Cisneros-Heredia & Guayasamin, 2021
Rana nubular torrenticola de Chical (Spanish), Chical nubulous Stream-Frog
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Hylinae
genus: Hyloscirtus
Species Description: Yánez-Muñoz MH, JP Reyes-Puig, D Batallas-Revelo, C Broaddus, M Urgilés-Merchán, DF Cisneros-Heredia, and JM Guayasamin. 2021. A new Andean treefrog (Amphibia: Hyloscirtus bogotensis group) from Ecuador: an example of community involvement for conservation. PeerJ 9: e11914.
Hyloscirtus conscientia
© 2022 Amadeus Plewnia (1 of 1)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Hyloscirtus conscientia is a relatively slender frog with a snout-vent length for males ranging from 29.6 to 33.3 mm and with a mean of 31.0 mm. The snout-vent length for females ranges from 34.7 to 40.0 mm and with a mean of 37.3 mm. In the dorsal view, the snout appears pointed. In the lateral view, the snout is rounded. The lips are rounded instead of flared. Both the head and the region between the nostrils are round. The eyes are prominent. The tympanic membrane and annulus are round. There is also a perceptible supratympanic fold. Males sometimes have a diamond-shaped mental gland that extends about halfway down the length of the throat, but no nuptial pads. Their forearms have an outer ulnar fold. Their fingers are short and thick with fleshy dermal fringes and oval disks at the ends. The disk on the third finger has a similar width to the diameter of the tympanum. The third finger has the longest length, followed by the fourth finger, then the second finger, and finally the first finger. Both the subarticular distal tubercle, the inner metacarpal tubercle, and the prepollex are large and elliptical. The tibia length is about half the snout-vent length and the foot length is about 40% of the snout-vent length. The inner metatarsal tubercle is long, flat, and elliptical. The toes are short and have thin lateral fringes with disks smaller than those on the fingers. The fourth toe is longest, followed by the third, then the fifth, the second, and finally the first. There is no tarsal stripe or calcar tubercle, but there are low tubercles near the cloaca. The supracloacal fold is low, thick, and has some iridophores (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

All members of the Hyloscirtus genus share broad dermal fringes. The H. bogotensis species group, of which H. conscientia is a part of, tends to have phalanges that look as wide as their toe disks. Despite a lack of additional shared morphological traits, the monophyly of the H. bogotensis group is confirmed by genetic analysis (Coloma et al. 2012, Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021). Hyloscirtus palmeri and H. simmonsi are also members of the H. bogotensis species group that also occur in the same region, but H. palmeri has calcers and H. simmonsi has no cream supraocular, supratympanic, and canthal stripes. Hyloscirtus conscientia is very similar to H. alytolylax and H. mashpi but can be distinguished in a number of ways. Hyloscirtus conscientia was formerly thought to be a cryptic species of H. alytolylax. However, close morphological study revealed that H. conscientia differs from H. alytolylax in lacking both ulnar and tarsal folds as well as a thin white reticulum on the dorsal side. Hyloscirtus alytolylax generally has no mid-dorsal stripe and numerous dots whereas H. conscientia has a thin mid-dorsal stripe and fewer dots. Hyloscirtus mashpi has a larger eye diameter, shorter nostril to eye distance, shorter tympanum diameter, larger tibia length, and larger hand length than H. conscientia. Hyloscirtus conscientia also has has an obvious tympanic annulus and large mid-dorsal stripe compared to the inconspicuous tympanum and smaller mid-dorsal stripe present in H. mashpi. And lastly, H. conscientia has unique iridophores that form dots that differentiate it from H. mashpi (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

In life, the species is dorsally a homogeneously “intense light green”' with small, well-defined white spots along both the main body and legs. Brown melanophores are arranged as fine spots in a variety of patterns and intensity across the dorsal. In some cases, the melanophores can be arranged densely to appear as a mid-dorsal line or interorbital line. The canthal is also finely dotted with melanophores and an incomplete, creamy green line that extends to the supratympanic fold. The ventral surface of the body is white while the throat, gular sac, and pectoral region are a transparent dark green. The ventral surface of the shanks appears as a pinkish green. There are fine dark brown spots around the pupil with a “creamy pinkish” iris, but the iris can also appear in a variety of colors such as silver, bronze, light brown, or whitish gray, including thin black webbing around the margin (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

In preservative, the dorsal coloration is variable, ranging from mostly yellowish white with random small spots of brown to a yellowish matrix with a dark brown pattern. The dorsum could also appear dark brown with pale diffuse regions on both the limbs and flanks or slightly pigmented with brown melanophores that form mid-dorsal and interorbital lines and can be slightly defined or scattered on a white matrix on the head. On the eyelids and nasal region there are scattered melanophores. There is a white line on the canthus, the external border of the upper eyelid, and the supratympanic fold. The outer edge of the heel is weakly pigmented white and the iris is a light brown with thin black reticulation. The ventral coloration can appear totally white in preservative (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

According to observations in the field, their color may be able to change in intensity for camouflage, an ability known as chromatic crypsis. One variation appears a light lemon-green dorsally with color fading on the limbs and flanks. There is also variation in coloration after preservation (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Ecuador

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Hyloscirtus conscientia can be found in the Carchi Province of northern Ecuador in South America very close to the Colombia border and may exist in the adjacent country as well. They are found on the western slopes of the Andes and are only known from two reserves – the Dracula Reserve conservation area and the Dracula Youth Reserve – within the humid, montane forests of the Mira basin in the San Juan River drainage. The species is found at elevations of 1495 to 1750 m (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Hyloscirtus conscientia is found in montane foothill cloud forests along clean-water streams that are lined with tall trees reaching 20 m high and are enveloped in moss and epiphytes. The species is often found near waterfalls and is semi-arboreal, often found on or under shrubs, trees, and/or ferns 30 - 350 cm above the ground. They may be nocturnal since observations only occurred at night (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

The region’s climate of continually high humidity and heavy rainfall may play a role in creating many reproductive seasons. Males are often found in April, September, and November while calling under leaves (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

There are two types of calls exhibited by members of the H. bogotensis species group. Hyloscirtus conscientia, has a Type 1 call with short, fast emissions with many, explosive notes. There is some variation in the calls of different populations, which could indicate potential new species. Calls consist of 5 - 6 notes, each of which has 2 - 4 pulses and lasts 16 - 35 ms, emitted at a rate of 7.69 - 11.76 notes per second. The frequency is 2.93 - 3.10 kHz. The period between notes lasts 60 - 109 ms with the full call lasting 470 - 655 ms (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

Tadpoles were found throughout the year in August, April, and November (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

Trends and Threats
The species is threatened by deforestation, cattle ranching, mining, and agriculture in its limited range. The species is, however, relatively protected since populations are found within the Dracula Reserve, which is managed by the Ecominga Foundation. At the time of the species description, the suggested IUCN status was Data Deficient (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).


Maximum likelihood analysis on 16S mitochondrial gene found that H. conscientia is the sister taxon to H. mashpi. Together they are sister to a clade containing H. alytolylax and an undescribed species to form the H. alytolylax complex within the H. bogotensis species group (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

The Dracula Youth Reserve is a project by “Reserva: The Youth Land Trust” in efforts to make an entirely youth-funded reserve. It is supported by people under 26 years old giving donations and/or creating online fundraisers. To honor the project, a free, online contest was held in September 2020 for people under 26 years old to name this species. The contest received over 600 submissions and the name H. conscientia was unanimously chosen by the panel of judges. Ultimately the contest hoped to increase awareness of the species and educate the community on conservation (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

The species epithet is derived from the Latin word “conscĭentĭa” and was proposed by Carolina Bustillos, a local Ecuadorian teen who won a naming contest for the species. The species epithet is a reminder to be more conscientious of our role in this interconnected world and of the beauty of the world (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

“We are at such a critical point in history, where the Earth and its species cannot continue to endure more exploitation and neglect by people. We are all part of this world and we must all have the consciousness to take care of it, to use less water, to use renewable energy sources, to consume less meat …. I think that this little frog should carry that message … the message of being aware of how wonderful this land is, with all its flora and fauna, and of being aware that we should take care of it and be grateful to it.” - Carolina Bustillos

The common names, Rana nubular torrenticola de Chical (Spanish) and Chical nubulous Stream-Frog, for the species come from the environment in which they are found. The town closest to the cloud forest habitat is El Chical. The word “nubular” is derived from the Spanish word ‘nubes’ for clouds, in reference to the cloud forests, and was created by another Ecuadorian teen named Dominique Benítez who said, “although this word does not exist, it quickly describes the frog’s habitat. I think the next generations should take into account that it is important to conserve species and name new ones in the future” (Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2021).

Coloma, L.A., Carvajal-Endara, S., Dueñas, J.F., Paredes-Recalde, A., Morales-Mite, M., Almeida-Reinoso, D., Tapia, E.E., Hutter, C.R., Tora,l E., Guayasamin, J.M. (2012). Molecular phylogenetics of stream treefrogs of the Hyloscirtus larinopygion group (Anura: Hylidae), and description of two new species from Ecuador. Zootaxa 3364(1), 1–78. DOI 10.11646/zootaxa.3364.1.1. [link]

Yánez-Muñoz, M.H., Reyes-Puig, J.P., Batallas-Revelo, D., Broaddus, C., Urgilés-Merchán, M., Cisneros-Heredia, D.F., Guayasamin, J.M. (2021). A new Andean treefrog (Amphibia: Hyloscirtus bogotensis group) from Ecuador: an example of community involvement for conservation. PeerJ 9: e11914. [link]

Originally submitted by: Allisun Wiltshire (2023-07-12)
Description by: Allisun Wiltshire (updated 2023-07-12)
Distribution by: Allisun Wiltshire (updated 2023-07-12)
Life history by: Allisun Wiltshire (updated 2023-07-12)
Larva by: Allisun Wiltshire (updated 2023-07-12)
Trends and threats by: Allisun Wiltshire (updated 2023-07-12)
Comments by: Allisun Wiltshire (updated 2023-07-12)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2023-07-12)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Hyloscirtus conscientia: Rana nubular torrenticola de Chical (Spanish) <> 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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