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Isthmohyla lancasteri Barbour 1928

Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Isthmohyla lancasteri
Adult Male Isthmohyla lancasteri

Common name

Lancaster's Treefrog



Species description based on Trueb (1986) and Duellman (2001). A medium-sized treefrog with large eyes and a very short, blunt snout (males to 34 mm, females to 41 mm). Isthmohyla lancasteri exhibits a rather amazing degree of morphological and behavioral variation depending on altitude (discussed in Trueb 1986).


The dorsal coloration consists of mottled shades of brown, green, and grey.

Isthmohyla lancasteri Dorsal 1


The venter is greyish-white, with or without dark mottling, depending on locality.

Concealed surfaces

The inner and outer surfaces of the thighs have one of two patterns: yellow with black barring or white with black spots, depending on locality.


The eye is reddish-brown.

Life history

Breeding season

Breeding occurs during the dry season at high elevations, but is delayed until the onset of the rainy season at lower elevations (Trueb 1968). Breeding takes place at streams (Trueb 1986, Duellman 2001).


Eggs are laid in clutches of around 20 eggs and generally placed on vegetation overhanging water (Trueb 1968).


Tadpoles grow quite large (Duellman 2001). The bodies are oval, with a long, muscular tail and short tail fins (Duellman 2001). Tadpoles are brown, with some darker or green markings (Duellman 2001). The ventral surface is grey, or bluish white (Duellman 2001). The mouth is rather small (Duellman 2001). For further descriptive information, see Starrett (1960) and Duellman (2001). Tadpoles may be encountered in quiet pools (Trueb 1986).

Ecology behavior and evolution


Two short, high notes (Duellman 2001).

Taxonomy and systematics


  • Kingdom:Animalia
    • Phylum:Chordata


Barbour 1928


Hyla lancasteri, Hyla moraviaensis


named for CR Lancaster, who discovered the type specimen

Type locality

high forest at Peralta, Costa Rica, altitude 500 meters

Habitat and distribution


Premontane forest from 368 to 1200 m.


Costa Rica, Panama


Isthmohyla lancasteri distribution
Distrubution map (IUCN)


Barbour, T. 1928. New Central American frogs. Proceedings of the New England Zoölogical Club. Cambridge, Massachusetts 10: 25-31.

Bursey, CR and DR Brooks. 2010. Nematode parasites of 41 anuran species from the Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Comparative Parasitology 77(2): 221-231.

Duellman, WE. 2001. The Hylid Frogs of Middle America. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Faivovich, J, CFB Haddad, PCO Garcia, DR Frost, JA Campbell, and WC Wheeler. 2005. Systematic review of the frog family Hylidae, with special reference to Hylinae: Phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History: 1-240.

Howland, HC, M Howland, A Giunta and TW Cronin. 1997. Corneal curvatures and refractions of central American frogs. Vision Research37(2): 169-174.

Ibáñez, R, F Solís, C Jaramillo, and AS Rand. 2000. An overwiew of the herpetology of Panama. In: Johnson, JD, RG Webb, and OA Flores-Villela. Eds. Mesoamerican Herpetology: Systematics, Zoogeography and Conservation. The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.

Lips, K and JM Savage. 1996. Key to the Known Tadpoles (Amphibia: Anura) of Costa Rica. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment 31(1): 17-26

Lips, KR. 1993. Hyla lancasteri (Spiny Treefrog). Herpetological Review 24(3): 108.

Myers, CW and WE Duellman. 1982. A new species of Hyla from Cerro Colorado, and other tree frog records and geographical notes from western Panama. American Museum Novitates 2752: 1-32.

Savage, JM. 1974. Type locality for species of amphibians and reptiles described from Costa Rica. Revista de Biologia Tropical. San Jose 22: 71-122.

Savage, JM. 2002. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna between two Continents, between two Seas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Taylor, EH. 1952. A review of the frogs and toads of Costa Rica. The University of Kansas Science Bulletin: 35(1): 577-941.

Trueb, L. 1968. Variation in the tree frog Hyla lancasteri. Copeia 1968(2): 285-299.

Additional resources