Eleutherodactylus auriculatus is a tiny frog, with adult males measuring up to 20 mm and females to 24 mm in SVL. Digital discs are developed. There is no webbing between the toes. The vomerine teeth, behind the choanae, are present in an oblique series (Cope 1862, Bogart 1981, Ruiz 1987, Schwartz and Henderson 1985, Schwartz and Henderson 1991).
This frog is dark brown to tan or light gray, with the sides darker than the dorsum. A dark bar runs across the back and above the insertion of the forelimbs. Some individuals have a median dorsal light stripe. A brown to black line descends from the upper orbit to near the shoulder, crossing the upper part of the tympanum. The loreal region is black. A blackish band extends between the eyes. The hind limbs are dark with the concealed surfaces brownish in color. The venter is vivid yellow; the vocal sac is greenish with black dots (Cope 1862, Bogart 1981, Ruiz 1987, 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 Isla de la Juventud. It is found island-wide, from sea level to about 1400 m, occurring in forests (Schwartz and Henderson 1991).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Adult frogs are active throughout the day, although more activity is common at night (Ansel Fong, pers. comm.). Males vocalize from shrubs, tree trunks and branches, vines, leaves, dead stumps and sometimes from the ground (Schwartz and Henderson 1991, Ansel Fong pers. comm.). Calls are similar to a flat telegraphic clicking, often with a few warm-up clicks, and composed of one note repeated continuously in close regular intervals (229-276 calls/minute). The dominant frequency is about 3.8-3.9 kHz (Schwartz 1969, Schwartz and Henderson 1991, Hedges et al. 1992, Estrada and Hedges 1997).
This frog is a direct developing species. Clutches consist of about 20 eggs, and are deposited in bromeliads or on the ground (Schwartz and Henderson 1991).
Trends and Threats
Clear-cutting of the forest, agriculture, infrastructure development for tourism and human settlement and disturbance of the forest by tourists are the main threats to this species (Hedges and Diaz 2004). Some natural areas in eastern Cuba have been degraded and substituted by coffee plantations, timber forests and pastures, causing the extirpation of this species from its original habitat (Fong 1999).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Eleutherodactylus auriculatus is a member of the subgenus Eleutherodactylus (Heinicke et al., 2007).
Synonyms include Hylodes auriculatus and Eleutherodactylus sonans (Cope 1862; Dunn 1925).
The chromosome number is 18 (Bogart 1981).
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.)
Bogart, J. P. (1981). ''Chromosome studies in Sminthillus from Cuba and Eleutherodactylus from Cuba and Puerto Rico (Anura: Leptodactylidae).'' Life Science Contribution, Royal Ontario Museum, 129, 1-22.
Cope, E. D. (1862). ''On some new and little known American anura.'' Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 14, 151-159.
Drewes, R. C., and Wilkinson, J. A. (2004). ''The California Academy of Sciences Gulf of Guinea Expedition (2001) I. The taxonomic status of the genus Nesionixalus Perret, 1976 (Anura: Hyperoliidae): treefrogs of São Tomé and Príncipe, with comments on the genus Hyperolius.'' Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 55, 395-407.
Dunn, E. R. (1925). ''Additional frogs from Cuba.'' Occasional Papers of the Boston Society of Natural History, 5, 209-215.
Estrada, A. R., and Hedges, S.B. (1997). ''A new species of frog from the Sierra Maestra, Cuba (Leptodactylidae, Eleutherodactylus).'' Journal of Herpetology, 31(3), 364-368.
Fong, A. (1999). ''Changes in amphibian composition in altered habitats in eastern Cuba.'' Froglog, 36, 2.
Hedges, S. B. and Díaz, L. M. (2004). Eleutherodactylus auriculatus. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. http://www.iucnredlist.org/. Downloaded on 10 November 2007.
Hedges, S.B., Estrada, A.R., and Thomas, R. (1992). ''Three new species of Eleutherodactylus from eastern Cuba, with notes on vocalizations of other species (Anura: Leptodactylidae).'' Herpetological Monographs, 6, 68-83.
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.
Ruiz, F. N. (1987). Anfibios de Cuba. Cientifíco-Técnica, La Habana.
Schwartz, A. (1969). ''The Antillean Eleutherodactylus of the auriculatus group.'' Studies of the Fauna of Curacao and other Caribbean Islands, 114, 99-115.
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 auriculatus: Cuban Telegraphic Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/2786> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 31, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 31 May 2023.
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