Friday, April 1, 2016

Dwarf Marsupial Frog, Flectonotus fitzgeraldi (Family Hemiphractidae)

Gastrotheca fitzgeraldi
Parker, 1934, Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad, 11:123. Holotype: BMNH 1947.2.22.41 Type locality: "about 3,000 ft. on Mt. Tucutche", Trinidad.

Nototheca fitzgeraldi: Bokermann, 1950, Pap. Avulsos Zool., São Paulo, 9: 218.

Flectonotus fitzgeraldi: Duellman, 1977, Das Tierreich, 95: 11.

A small frog, males reach 19.0 mm; females reach 24.0 mm SVL. (New metamorph below). They have a yellow-brown dorsum. The posterior surfaces of the thighs are brown, and the venter is unpigmented except for specks of white pigment and is otherwise translucent. The dorsal skin is smooth and the scapular region usually lacks diagonal markings. The head is as long as it is wide. The snout is rounded and the small nasals are widely separated. Upper lips have no spots and no suborbital bar is present. The eyes, separated by an interorbital bar, have diameters of 1.9 to 3.0 mm. The tympanum is smaller than the eye. A brood pouch along the dorsum has a middorsal opening, with lateral folds of skin making up the sides. These folds stick together to enclose the pouch during egg brooding. More often than not, the dorsal thighs are barred, while bars are never present on the anterior and posterior thighs. The tarsus is smooth as opposed to tuberculate, and tibia length in males ranges from 8.8-12.2 mm. Fourth toe webbing is predominately penultimate, although it is sometimes half penultimate and antepenultimate. Fifth toe webbing is mainly distal but can be half distal and penultimate (Duellman and Gray 1983).

Distribution: Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela

Flectonotus fitzgeraldi occurs in humid forests of Trinidad, Tobago and the Peninsula de Paria, Venezuela. It has been found sitting on leaves of bushes and plants at night and on leaf litter during the day. On Trinidad, this tree frog is widespread  from sea level to 950 m in elevation. It is widely distributed on Tobago and is also found in the mountains of the Peninsula de Paria, Venezuela.

Flectonotus fitzgeraldi is crepuscular and nocturnal. Males start calling in the late afternoon and stop an hour or so after sunset. The Female carry the eggs in a dorsal pouch until the eggs hatch at which time they are deposited in a leaf axial pond.

Mating behavior is unknown, but members of Flectonotus are known to have long reproductive seasons and if females were to mate within a week or two after egg deposit, they could theoretically have five broods per season. A female will produce 3-4 embryos, 3.3 on average, with a mean diameter of 3.6 mm. Eggs will brood in her dorsal pouch until developmental stages 39-41. They are then released into bromeliads and aroid leaf bases, where they continue to develop without feeding. Larval development takes place in only 5 days and during this time, the only yolk is consumed (Duellman and Gray 1983).

 On Tobago, it is widespread and associated with forests. It also occurs in the mountains on the Peninsula de Paria, Venezuela. Habitat is humid forests and forest edges. They have been reported in the leaf litter during the day and on bushes at night. However, we have found them in rolled up Heliconia leaves during the day. Males call at sunset and for a short time afterward. Females carry the large fertilized eggs in a pouch on their back, upon hatching the tadpoles are deposited in a leaf axial pond where they undergo development. New metamorph below.

Adult below. 

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