Atlantihyla melissa Townsend, Herrera-B, Hofmann, Luque-Montes, Ross, Dudek, Krygeris, Duchamp & Wilson, 2020
Texiguat Stream Frog
|Species Description: Townsend JH, Herrera-B LA, Hofmann, EP, Luque-Montess IR, Ross AN, Dudek Jr., Krygeris C, Duchamp JE, Wilson DL. 2020. A critically endangered new species of polymorphic stream frog (Anura: Hylidae: Atlantihyla) from the montane rainforest of Refugio de Vida Silvestre Texiguat, Honduras. Vertebrate Zoology, 70(4): 731-756.|
© 2020 Josiah H. Townsend (1 of 6)
At the time of the species description there were two other species of frogs in the genus Atlantihyla: A. spinipollex and A. panchoi. Atlantihyla melissa differs from A. panchoi in that A. panchoi has a white upper lip. Atlantihyla melissa can be differentiated from A. spinipollex because the focal species is smaller, has a larger head, longer shanks, longer note duration during advertisement call, and more pulses per note compared to A. spinipollex (Townsend et al. 2020).
Though the distribution of A. melissa is allopatric with respect to the two other members of the genus, it does occur in sympatry with four other species of tree frogs that can be found near streams: Duellmanohyla salvavida, Isthmohyla insolita, Plectrohyla chrysopleura, and what is presumed to be Plectrohyla guatemalensis. Duellmanohyla salvavida is distinguishable from A. melissa because they have differences in coloration and nuptial spines. Atlantihyla melissa tends to have dorsal coloration that is uniform grayish brown or with light/dark spots or mottling and large nuptial spines in males, while D. salvavida has uniformly green dorsal coloration and small nuptial excrescences. Traits that distinguish them from Isthmohyla insolita include a smooth dorsal surface, large nuptial spines in adult males, and mottled/colorless chin coloration, as I. insolita have a rough dorsal surface, small nuptial excrescences, and a broad stripe on their chin. Atlantihyla melissa’s slightly enlarged prepollex that lacks a protruding distal end distinguishes them from P. chrysopleura, which have a flat prepollex with a blunt distal end, and from P. guatemalensis, which have a prepollex with two large curved spines (Townsend et al. 2020).
In life, A. melissa has a wide variety of coloration and patterns, including in their iris. Males have irises that range from a salmon color to a darker red, while in females the iris color ranges from an olive to a cinnamon-brown color and is more subdued. While, neither dorsal or ventral coloration is sexually dimorphic, there is a lot of individual variation in the dorsal pattern, which can be uniform in coloration, have small to medium sized dark spots, be extensively mottled, have small pale spots, a large and irregular dark spot, or have a middorsal stripe. With regards to ventral variation, most individuals have a pale ventrolateral stripe, which can be pale to a bright yellow. Some individuals also have venters that are gray to purple in color, while others exhibit pale to a bright yellow color instead. These yellow-colored individuals can also have centers that are pale yellow or immaculate with the ventral surfaces on the fore- and hind limbs being a greenish yellow to bright yellow in color. Most of the time, the chins and throats are immaculate, but occasionally they will have dark spots (Townsend et al. 2020).
Atlantihyla melissa is sexually dimorphic in both size and iris coloration. There is also individual variation in dorsal and ventral coloration (Townsend et al. 2020). See coloration above for details.
Distribution and Habitat
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Adult males have advertisement calls that last 8.28 - 13.19 s and consist of a series of 5 - 6 long pulse notes in a continuous call series, with each note increasing in amplitude. The final note of each call is the strongest, but they can be followed by a faint trailing note. There are two harmonics in each note, lasting 0.47 - 1.3 s, and having a repetition rate of 0.405 - 0.604 calls/s and an inter-note interval of 1.04 - 1.79 s. There are 5 - 12 pulses per note with each pulse lasting 0.013 - 0.052 s, and having a repetition rate of 5.669 - 11.086, a peak amplitude of 287 - 2982 U, and an inter-pulse interval of 0.035 - 0.106 s. The dominant frequency of the whole call series is 3421.9 Hz (Townsend et al. 2020).
Females found in March had well-developed eggs in their oviducts. Metamorphs emerge from the water in June and July (Townsend et al. 2020).
In preservative, the body is a mottled grayish-tan. The tail musculature is pale tan and blotched with brown. The fins are translucent with dark spots on the anterior portion of the dorsal fin and dark flecking in the other portions (Townsend et al. 2020).
Tadpoles are abundant in pools and emerge as metamorphs in June and July (Townsend et al. 2020).
Trends and Threats
Bayesian analysis of 12s and 16s mtDNA and POMC, Rag-1, and RHO nDNA found that A. melissa is sister to A. spinipollex. The next most closely species is A. panchoi (Townsend et al. 2020).
This frog was named after Isis Melissa Medina-Flores, a field biologist from Mangulile in the Department of Lancho, Honduras. She participated in the discovery and description of A. melissa along with two other species endemic to Texiguat. On November 5th, 2016, she was separated from a group while hiking down the summit of the highest peak in Honduras, disappearing without a trace. She was never found (Townsend et al. 2020).
Townsend, J. H., Herrera-B., L. A., Hofmann, E. P., Luque-Montess, I. R., Ross, A. N., Dudek Jr., D., Krygeris, C., Duchamp, J. E., Wilson, D. L. (2020). "A critically endangered new species of polymorphic stream frog (Anura: Hylidae: Atlantihyla) from the montane rainforest of Refugio de Vida Silvestre Texiguat, Honduras." Vertebrate Zoology, 70(4), 731-756. [link]
Originally submitted by: Alexandra G. Marcin (2022-12-07)
Description by: Alexandra G. Marcin (updated 2022-12-07)
Distribution by: Alexandra G. Marcin (updated 2022-12-07)
Life history by: Alexandra G. Marcin (updated 2022-12-07)
Larva by: Alexandra G. Marcin (updated 2022-12-07)
Trends and threats by: Alexandra G. Marcin (updated 2022-12-07)
Comments by: Alexandra G. Marcin (updated 2022-12-07)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2022-12-07)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Atlantihyla melissa: Texiguat Stream Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/9296> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 24, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 24 Sep 2023.
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