AmphibiaWeb - Rana lenca


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Rana lenca Luque-Montes, Austin, Weinfurther, Wilson, Hofmann, and Townsend, 2018
Lenca Leopard Frog
Subgenus: Pantherana
family: Ranidae
genus: Rana
Species Description: Luque-Montes, I., Austin, J.D., Weinfurther, K.D., Wilson, L.D., Hofmann, E.P., Townsend, J.H. 2018. An integrative assessment of the taxonomic status of putative hybrid leopard frogs (Anura: Ranidae) from the Chortís Highlands of Central America, with description of a new species. Systematics and Biodiversity 2018: 1-7
Rana lenca
© 2018 Josiah H. Townsend (1 of 31)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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Adult Description

Rana lenca is a small frog with adult males ranging from 46 mm to 64 mm in length and adult females being slightly larger, ranging from 43 mm to 76 mm. It has a long and broad head. The tympanum is the same relative size between males and females. The fingers are unwebbed and the toes are webbed (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).

There are two other frogs that could be mistaken for R. lenca that live in the same area: R. brownorum and R. forreri. A distinguishing characteristic that sets R. lenca apart from these other frogs is their size; R. lenca is a bit smaller than R. brownorum and R. forreri on average. Another difference between these frogs is that the R. lenca have a longer and broader head than R. brownorum and R. forreri. Another frog in the area that could be mistaken for R. lenca is R. maculata. The difference between them is that R. lenca has a longer head, a larger tympanum, and has distinct spots on its dorsal side (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).

In life, they have a brown-green coloration with well-defined spots on their dorsal side with a light underside. The spots on the dorsum vary quite a bit between individuals, regardless of sex. The color of the specimen after four years in alcohol preservation is altered slightly but its defining characteristics are still visible. The dorsal side is dark brown with irregular dorsal spots that are paler above the dorsolateral ridges than below. The extremities of the specimen in alcohol were paler than the dorsum (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).

The females are usually slightly larger than the males. The dorsal spots and background color vary between individuals. Specifically, the shade of the green-brown coloration varies slightly between individuals depending upon the medium they spend their time on, showing phenotypic plasticity (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).

Larval Description

At Gosner Stage 29, tadpoles are dorsally compressed and are wider than their tall. The snout is in a semicircle shape in the dorsal view and rounded from the lateral view. The tadpoles' eyes are large and directed dorsolaterally. The upper jaw sheath is arched, and the lower jaw sheath is more of a V-shape. Lateral to the lower jaw sheath and between marginal papillae and P-3 tooth row, there are two to three irregular rows of submarginal papillae. The dorsal fin terminates on the tail before reaching the posterior of the body (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Honduras

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Rana lenca are found in the southwestern and south-central Pacific versant of Honduras at elevations of 1,560 to 2,080m. They occupy Lower Montane Moist Forest habitat, including remnant cloud forest, the transition from pine-oak to cloud forest, and marshy areas. Specifically, they have been found near the top of Cerro San Pedro La Loma to the east of La Esperanza, in the Department of Intibucá, south of the Thomas Cabot Biological Station in the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana Zamorano in Reserva Biológica Cerro Uyuca, in the Department of Francisco Morazán, and near a reservoir in Zacate Blanco to the west of La Esperanza. However, the habitat in these areas are degraded due to deforestation and livestock conversion (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Rana lenca males have vocalizations at a frequency of 516.8Hz, length of 240 ms, and a pulse number of four (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).

Rana lenca can be found in sympatry with R. maculatus, Incilius ibarrai, Incilius porteri, Rhinella horribilis, Exerodonta catracha, Ptychohyla salvadorensis, and Tlalocohyla loquax. Tadpoles can also be found with Hypopachus barberi, Leptodactylus silvanimbus, Ptychohyla hypomykter, and Scinax staufferi (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).

Trends and Threats
Rana lenca has an “Endangered” status on the IUCN Red List. They rely on wetlands and forests, but their distribution has been limited to only five locations. One of the main threats is deforestation that is caused by agriculture and wood harvesting. There is also landscape change and water pollution occurring, as ponds that R. lenca relies on are being used as a water source to sustain livestock (Luque-Montes et al. 2018, IUCN 2020). The frogs also face habitat destruction from native boring pine beetle. Climate change and severe weather, such as drought, storms, and flooding has also led to the destruction of their habitat and has contributed to their declining status (IUCN 2020). Lastly, diseases, such as Chytridiomycosis, have led to decreased numbers of Lenca leopard frogs (Skerratt et al. 2007).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.

Maximum Likelihood and Bayesians Inference analyses on 12S and 16S mtDNA and rhodopsin nDNA indicate that R. lenca is sister to an unnamed Rana species from Costa Rica, followed by by specimens assumed to be R. forreri. The clade composed of R. brownorum and R. taylori is the next most closely related clade (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).

The species epithet, “lenca,” was given in honor of the indigenous Lenca people that were the traditional residents of the southwestern mountainous region of Honduras (Luque-Montes et al. 2018).


IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. (2020). "Lithobates lenca (amended version of 2019 assessment)." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T143844904A176621696.

Luque-Montes, L., Austin, J. D., Weinfurther, K. D., Wilson, L. D., Hofmann, E. P., Townsend, J. H. (2018). “An integrative assessment of the taxonomic status of putative hybrid leopard frogs (Anura: Ranidae) from the Chortis Highlands of Central America, with description of a new species.” Systematics and Biodiversity 16:340–356. [link]

Skerratt, L. F., Berger, L., Speare, R., Cashins, S., McDonald, K. R., Phillott, A. D., Hines, H. B., and Kenyon, N. (2007). ''Spread of chytridiomycosis has caused the rapid global decline and extinction of frogs.'' EcoHealth, 4, 125-134.

Originally submitted by: John Simas, Deanna Pappas, Mandy Chung (2022-07-12)
Description by: John Simas, Deanna Pappas, Mandy Chung (updated 2022-07-12)
Distribution by: John Simas, Deanna Pappas, Mandy Chung (updated 2022-07-12)
Life history by: John Simas, Deanna Pappas, Mandy Chung (updated 2022-07-12)
Trends and threats by: John Simas, Deanna Pappas, Mandy Chung (updated 2022-07-12)
Comments by: John Simas, Deanna Pappas, Mandy Chung (updated 2022-07-12)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2022-07-12)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Rana lenca: Lenca Leopard Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 22, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Jun 2024.

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