Onore’s Harlequin Frog
Species Description: Coloma L, Loetters S, Duellman W, Miranda-Leiva 2007 A taxonomic revision of Atelopus pachydermus, and description of two new (extinct?) species of Atelopus from Ecuador (Anura: Bufonidae). Zootaxa 1557: 1-32
The most distinctive feature that sets A. onorei apart from the other species in the Atelopus genus is their aqua blue iris. Yellow-orange or green coloration in life makes A. onorei most similar to A. bomolochos, which it was once mistaken as. However the latter has black irises, minute black stippling on the dorsum, and larger hand and foot length in females. Atelopus onorei differes from A. guanujo by being significantly larger and not having white spiculae in life. From A. carbonerensis and A. sorianoi, A. onorei can be differentiated by having a less protuberant snout and not having a postocular crest. Male A. onorei possess vocal slits but no row of warts on the dorsolateral sides of their body that differentiates them from A. chrysocorallus and further from A. carbonerensis. Atelopus onorei is distinguishable from A. petersi by the absence of posterior flange at the anterolateral hyoid process, slightly more mineralized cartilaginous suprascapula and scattered pits absences and the latter having white digital pads on black phalanges (Coloma et al. 2007).
In life, the dorsum is yellow-orange and green with varying amounts of each color. A few individuals have a pale yellowish-brown dorsum blotched with diffused black spots and with yellow spiculae. The iris is a distinct aqua blue with black reticulations and a thin bluish-white stripe on the upper margin of the pupil. Specimens preserved in alcohol have dorsal colors that vary from yellow to grey. In a preserved sample of 70% ethanol, the dorsal and ventral parts of limbs are a creamy yellow while the tibia, fingers III and V, toes IV and V fade to a grayish (Coloma et al. 2007).
Overall, this species shows little variation within itself. The main form of variation we see in this species is sexual dimorphism with females having larger body sizes than males and females have longer and more slender limbs. Coloration patterns are generally the same between males and females with the occasional difference occurring between males (Coloma et al. 2007).
Distribution and Habitat
The Azuay Basin has a mean annual rainfall of 1000 – 2000 mm and a mean annual temperature of 12 – 18oC.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
A female specimen was found containing 133 eggs that were 2.14 mm in diameter (Coloma et al. 2007).
Trends and Threats
Many factors contribute to their decline including climate change, limited geographic ranges, and disease. This species also occurs in areas where climate abnormalities are common. The Chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is presumed to have affected A.onorei. However, researchers like Luis Coloma argue that global warming/climate change is still the number one driver for A.onorei decline. It is believed that a series of unusually warm events are correlated with major die off of A.onorei. Furthermore, A. onorei have a very small range, consisting of two streams, making them more vulnerable to extinction (Pounds and Coloma 2008, Coloma 2008).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
Subtle changes to necessary specialized habitat
Despite distinct morphologies, Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood analysis of the combined mitochondrial genes 16S rRNA (fragment) tRNA-Leu (complete), ND1 (complete), and tRNA-Ile (partial) could not resolve the relationships in the A. bomolochos complex, of which A. onorei is part of. There are multiple ways this genetic indistinctness could be explained. First, the complex could be a single species with large morphological variation. Secondly, the varied morphology could be result of a recent, rapid adaptation. Thirdly, the genetic markers used may not reflect the actual genetic difference. And lastly, the different species could occasionally hybridize and dilute genetic differences. Several researchers favor the second and last hypotheses (Guayasuamin et al. 2010).
Efforts to understand the phylogenetic relationships between A.onorei and other Atelopus species are also limited because material has been lost and the original description of many species do not provide accurate locality data. The controversial debate of phylogenetic relationship leaves researchers uncertain of whether similarities among the genus reflect synapomorphies, plesiomorphies or convergence evolution. It is hypothesized that the reduction in thumb length might reflect a monophyletic assemblage but many researchers are reluctant to use this characteristic as a way of identifying Atelopus species (Coloma el at. 2007, Venegas et al. 2008).
Atelopus onorei was previously allocated to an Ecuadorian population of Atelopus bomolochos. The original material of A. bomolochos was reviewed, resulting in the discovery of A. onorei (Coloma el at. 2007).
Atelopus onorei is named after the former Curator of Entomology at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, Giovanni Onore. His contribution to the collection of Ecuadorian frogs during the eighties were invaluable to the scientific research at PUCE and provided key data that was later used to document extinction of amphibians (Coloma et al. 2007)
At the site west of Miguir, A. onorei shares habitat with A. nanay (Coloma et al. 2007).
Coloma, L. A., Lötters, S., Duellman, W.E., and Miranda-Leiva, A. (2007). ''A taxonomic revision of Atelopus pachydermus, and description of two new (extinct?) species of Atelopus from Ecuador (Anura: Bufonidae).'' Zootaxa, 1557, 1-32.
Coloma, L.A. (2008). Atelopus onorei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T136173A4254841. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T136173A4254841.en. Downloaded on 27 March 2017.
Guayasamin, J. M., Bonaccorso, E., Duellman, W. E., and Coloma, L. A. (2010). ''Genetic differentiation in the nearly extinct harlequin frogs (Bufonidae: Atelopus), with emphasis on the Andean Atelopus ignescens and A. bomolochos species complexes.'' Zootaxa , 2574, 55-68.
Pounds, J.A., Coloma, L.A. (2008) ''Beware the lone killer.'' Nature Reports Climate Change 2008: 57-59. doi:10.1038/climate.2008.37
Venegas, P., Catenazzi, A., Siu-Tang, K., and Carillo, J. (2008). ''Two new harlequin frogs (Anura: Atelopus) from the Andes of northern Peru.'' Salamandra, 44, 163-176.
Originally submitted by: Marina Guzman, Elsa Corona, and Esmerilda Rodriguez (first posted 2017-04-12)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2017-04-17)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2017 Atelopus onorei: Onore’s Harlequin Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/6969> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 30, 2022.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2022. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 30 Jun 2022.
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