AmphibiaWeb - Boana calcarata


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Boana calcarata (Troschel, 1848)
Convict Treefrog
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Hylinae
genus: Boana
Species Description: Troschel, F. H. (1848). Theil 3. Versuch einer Zusammenstellung der Fauna und Flora von Britisch-Guiana. Schomburgk, R. ed., Reisen in Britisch-Guiana in den Jahren 1840–44. Im Auftrage Sr. Majestät des Königs von Preussen ausgeführt: 645–661. Leipzig, J. J. Weber.
Boana calcarata
© 2013 Carlos E. Costa-Campos (1 of 18)

sound file   hear Fonozoo call (#1)
sound file   hear Fonozoo call (#2)

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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Boana calcarata is a treefrog with a snout-vent length of between 27.91 – 36.27 mm for males and between 45.94 – 56.29 mm for females. The head is narrowed with large round protruding eyes and curved tympanic membrane. The body of the species is slender with smooth, sticky skin and is characterized by sharp, long dermal spurs at the heel joint. The fingers of this species are basally webbed with the inner finger being free. Its feet have webbing and projecting spines from the proximal end of the humerus in males (Caminer and Ron 2014).

This species does not necessarily have any specific characteristics the make it completely different from closely related species, but the combination of its characteristics makes the species different from its counterparts. This species is most similar to B. fasciata and B. almedarizae. This species differs from those by its large, triangular calcar compared to that of B. fasciata and B. almedarizae’s small, conical calcar and large, conical calcar respectively. These species are also different in the number of notes in their individual advertisement calls. Boana calcarata is also different in its iris by having an upper band distinguished with a yellow to orange tone compared to that of the B. fasciata, which has a red to reddish brown tone. This species also has narrower dark bands on its thighs and flanks (Caminer and Ron 2014).

In life, B. calcarata dorsal surfaces range from light brown to brown to even reddish brown in some cases. The dorsum also has a black longitudinal stripe down its back and may have tiny scattered white and black dots. The flanks vary in color from white, light blue, to blue. Some individuals have diffuse brown transverse bands on the flanks and limbs. The limbs of this species are pale brown on the dorsal surface while the ventral surface of limbs are translucent white to yellowish to creamy white. The webbing and discs vary from yellowish to brown. This species has a two-toned iris with a mostly creamy silver or bronze coloration that is characterized by a yellow to orange band in the upper portion of the iris (Caminer and Ron 2014).

In preserved specimens, the dorsal coloration can vary from cream, pinkish-white, reddish-brown, pale reddish-brown, or pale grayish-brown. There may be irregular dorsal marks that vary in number, size and shape. There is a dark mid-dorsal line that starts at the tip of the snout and ends anywhere between the anterior half of the dorsum and the mid-sacrum. The limbs have transverse bars on the dorsal surface. The limbs may also have black stains or scattered brown or white dots. The flanks and hidden surfaces of the thighs may be pale cream, creamy white, or light gray and have 4 - 13 brown transverse bars. The transverse bars may extend to the ventral surfaces of the hind limbs and feet. The ventrum is creamy white or yellowish white. The lip may have minute pale brown blotches. The webbing and discs can be yellowish white, brown, or gray (Caminer and Ron 2014).

There is variation in coloration (see above). There is also sexual dimorphism with the females larger, males having a prepollical spine, and females having blue flanks while males have light-blue to white flanks (Caminer and Ron 2014).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname

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View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (1 records).

This species is found for the most part in the Amazon Basin from southern Colombia and adjacent Ecuador south through Peru to northern Bolivia, the Guianas and the upper Orinoco Basin in Venezuela and Brazil. Boana calcarata generally occurs below 400 m asl but can occur at up to 1,000 m asl in Ecuador (Caminer and Ron 2014).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

The acoustic parameters of the call for this species include 1780.50 ± 112.73 (Hz) under a single note. This call contains around 13 - 15 pulses with about 10 – 14 seconds between calls. This data is based on data from a recording temperature between 23.9 - 25.6 oC (Caminer and Ron 2014).


One larval specimen from Santa Cecilia, Ecuador was described in 2005, however the B. calcarata species complex has been further examined since then, and the locality of the specimen now also falls into the range of B. alfaroi (Duellman 2005; Caminer and Ron 2014). It is now unclear which species the larval specimen is, however, the description is provided below:

In Gosner stage 38, the larva have a body length of about 10.8 mm and a total length of about 31.8 mm (Gosner 1960; Duellman 2005). The body is elongate/ovoid in dorsal view, with the widest section at the mid-length and it’s much wider than high. The highest point of the larva is at about three-fourths the length of the body. The snout is rounded in the dorsal view and in profile it inclines from the nares to a rounded tip. The nares are situated dorsally, directed anterolaterally, ovoid, and are midway between the snout tip and the orbits. Median narial papillae are present. The eyes are moderately large, directed and situated dorsolaterally, and they are not visible from below. The interorbital space is narrow. The oral disc is moderately large and is directed anteroventrally. It is incomplete and has lateral folds. There is a single row of small, blunt, marginal papillae present laterally and ventrally. The submarginal papillae are absent. The jaw sheaths are slender and serrate, and the anterior sheath is broadly V-shaped. All the rows of teeth are equal in length except for P-3, which is slightly shorter. The spiracle is sinistral and long and the distal third of the spiracular tube is not attached to the body wall. The spiracular aperture is round and directed posterodorsally at the two-thirds length of the body. The ventral tube is short, dextral, and incorporated into the ventral fin. The caudal musculature is moderately slender and it is highest at the junction with the body. It tapers into a slight tip. The dorsal fin starts on the proximal caudal musculature and gradually increases its height until about two-thirds the length of the tail. It then abruptly decreases to a narrow fringe. The ventral fin starts on the caudal musculature and doesn’t increase in height. The caudal musculature has a greater height than either fin at the midpoint of the tail (Duellman 2005).

In life, the dorsum is dark brown with a faint tan mottling and a tan interorbital bar. The tail is yellowish tan and it has vertical brown bars (Duellman 2005).

In preservative, the dorsum and sides of the body are brown. The posteromedial part and sides of the body are cream. The fins and the belly are transparent. There are faint vertical brown marks present on the proximal two-thirds of the tail, which are more prominent on the fins and caudal musculature posteriorly (Duellman 2005).

Trends and Threats

Forest conversion, logging, clear cutting, and fire all pose major threats to this species. However, the species' recent appearance in secondary forests and man made open areas suggests some tolerance to human habitat disturbance (Caminer and Ron 2014).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Secondary succession
Habitat fragmentation


In a 2014 Maximum Likelihood analysis of 12S and 16S mtDNA, B. calcarata was placed as sister to B. almedarizae, the two of which form a clade that is sister to B. fasciata (Caminer and Ron 2014). However, in a 2021 Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood analysis of 16S mtDNA, B. calcarata was placed as sister to a clade made up of B. almedarizae and B. fasciata (Rainha et al. 2021). As a result, it is unclear which species B. calcarata is most closely related to, with both B. fasciata and B. almedarizae being candidates.

Boana calcarata was previously known as Hyla leptoscelis and Hypsiboas calcaratus (Caminer and Ron 2014).

The type specimen for Boana calcarata has been lost (Caminer and Ron 2014).


Caminer, M. A. and Santiago, R. R. (2014). Systematic of treefrogs of the Hypisboas calcaratus and Hypsiboas fasciatus species complex (Anura, Hylidae) with the description of four new species. ZooKeys 370, 1 - 68. [link]

Duellman, William E. (1978). The biology of an equatorial herpetofauna in Amazonian Ecuador. Lawrence, Kansas: The University of Kansas.

Duellman, W. E. (2005). Cusco Amazonico: The lives of amphibians and reptiles in an Amazonian rainforest. New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University.

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, 2005(294), 1-240. [link]

Gosner, Kenneth L. (1960). A simplified table for staging anuran embryos and larvae with notes on identification. Herpetologica 16(3), 183–90. [link]

Rainha, R. N., Martinez, P. A., Moraes, L. J. C. L., Castro, K. M. S. A., Réjaud, A., Fouquet, A., Leite, R. N., Rodrigues, M. T., and Werneck, F. P. (2021). Subtle environmental variation affects phenotypic differentiation of shallow divergent treefrog lineages in Amazonia. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 134(1): 177 - 197. [link]

Originally submitted by: Shakil Huq (first posted 2015-04-20)
Description by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2024-03-04)
Distribution by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2024-03-04)
Life history by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2024-03-04)
Larva by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2024-03-21)
Trends and threats by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2024-03-04)
Comments by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2024-03-04)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang, Nessa Kmetec (2024-03-21)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2024 Boana calcarata: Convict Treefrog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 15, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 15 Jun 2024.

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