Known as the Puerto Rican coqui, this is a small frog, 34 mm SVL in males and to 41 mm SVL in females. The dorsal colors vary from brown to grayish-brown with highly variable color patterns. On the dorsal surface it varies from uniform brown to gray and may have a faint "M" between its shoulders. It may also have two broad cream or light colored dorsolateral stripes irregularly bordered with tiny black spots. Some individuals have a broad cream or light colored band across the head between the eyes. The belly is white or yellow, stippled with brown. These frogs have large toe pads with no webbing between the toes. The eye color varies from brown to gold. (Conant and Collins 1991).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Puerto Rico. Introduced: Bahamas, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guam, United States, Virgin Islands, U.S..
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: California, Hawaii
This species is native to Puerto Rico (Conant and Collins 1991).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Coqui frogs are forest habitat generalists, however, in their native range in Puerto Rico, Beard, McCullough, and Eschtruth (2003) quantified their microhabitat partitioning by life stages. Adults were found in a large range of heights of vegetation from the ground seeming to prefer heights ca. 1 m above the forest floor. Juveniles were often found in vegetation but preferred vegetation closer to the ground.
Coqui frogs are nocturnal when males will call exceptionally loudly. Females and juveniles typically forage during their active times. Where present, coqui have some of the highest density of amphibian species (Beard et al 2003).
This species of frog is a direct developer. The adults lay eggs on land and they hatch directly into subadult frogs. The free-swimming tadpole stage, common in many frogs, is completely lacking in this species (Conant and Collins 1991).
Trends and Threats
Direct-developing species like Eleutherodactylus coqui are considerably less likely to be affected by chytridiomycosis than are species with free-living tadpoles, but chytrid infection has been reported in this species from Puerto Rico (Beard and O'Neill 2005).
Relation to Humans
This charismatic and vocal frog has been introduced in several countries and US states, where the high densities and loud calls have socio-economic and ecosystem impacts. See Global Invasive Species Database Species profile.
This species was featured as news of the week September 26, 2022:
The global pet trade and transport networks have accelerated the number of introduced amphibian and reptile species worldwide, some becoming invasive problems and have caused extirpation or declines of native species and disruptions of ecosystems. Furthermore, these invasions impact socio-economies (i.e., monetary and social impacts) and human health (i.e., spread of disease). In a first attempt to quantify the financial costs, Soto et al (2022) analyzed the global economic costs caused by invasive alien herpetofauna using a dataset of 21 herpetofauna species, six amphibian and 15 reptile invasive species. They showed the cost of invasive species generally increased over time but peaked between 2011 and 2015 for amphibians and 2006 to 2010 for reptiles. Invasive herpetofauna cost approximately a total of 17.0 billion US$ between 1986 and 2020 and was predominantly associated with the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), with 6.0 and 10.3 billion US$ in costs, respectively. Geographically, Oceania and Pacific Islands recorded 63% of total costs, followed by Europe (35%) and North America (2%). The sector most affected by amphibians was authorities-stakeholders through post-invasion species management (> 99%), while for reptiles, impacts were reported mostly through damages to mixed sectors (65%). The results from this study might suggest research biases towards well-known taxa; however, it highlights the importance of synthesizing the cost of herpetofauna invasion to provide a better framework for regulatory policies and investment in control or biosecurity measures (e.g., trade of alien pets). (Written by Umilaela Arifin)
Beard KH, McCullough S, and Eschtruth AK (2003). "Quantitative Assessment of Habitat Preferences for the Puerto Rican Terrestrial Frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui." Journal of Herpetology, 37(1), 10-17.
Beard, K. H., and O'Neill, E. M. (2005). ''Infection of an invasive frog Eleutherodactylus coqui by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Hawaii.'' Biological Conservation, 126, 591-595.
Conant, R. and Collins, J. T. (1991). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
Global Invasive Species Database (2021) Species profile: Eleutherodactylus coqui. [link]
Joglar, R. L. (1998). Los Coquíes de Puerto Rico: Su Historia Natural y Conservación. University of Puerto Rico Press, Puerto Rico.
Originally submitted by: Vance T. Vredenburg (first posted 2001-05-07)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker, Michelle S. Koo (2022-09-25)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Eleutherodactylus coqui: Puerto Rican Coqui <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/2858> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 22, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Mar 2023.
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