Friday, January 6, 2017

Environmental DNA Detection of the Golden Tree Frog

The Bromeliad-dwelling Treefrog or the Golden Tree Frog, Phytotriades auratus was long thought to be restricted to two of Trinidad's sky islands. However, in 2015 Rivas and Freitas found it in Eastern Venezuela's Paria Peninsula. Now, an investigation has located another sky island locality in Trinidad - Chaguaramal. Torresdal et al. (2016) used environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect the presence of the frog in its bromeliad microhabitat. Phytotriades are known to use the water tanks of the bromeliad Glomeropitcairnia erectiflora. This is a huge strap-shaped leaf plant that is epiphytic and often three meters or more above the ground. Previous studies of the frog required ripping the plants apart to find the frog; now a water sample can be take from the plant and tested for the frog's DNA. The researchers tested 29 bromeliads, 23 of these tested positive for the presence of P. auratus. Additionally, two P. auratus were observed and in two of the plants tested, the Dwarf Marsupial Frog, Flectonotus fitzgeraldi, was also observed. The test distinguishes between species of frogs. The eDNA test will provide used data without destroying the microhabitat of this species, and allow conservation efforts to monitor the species distribution.


Rivas GA, De Freitas M. Discovery of the critically endangered golden tree frog, Phytotriades auratus (Boulenger, 1917), in Eastern Venezuela, with comments on its distribution, conservation, and biogeography. Herpetological Review. 2015; 46:153–157.

Torresdal JD, Farrell AD, Goldberg CS (2017) Environmental DNA Detection of the Golden Tree Frog (Phytotriades auratus) in Bromeliads. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0168787. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0168787

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