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Colostethus panamansis Dunn 1933

Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)



Species description based on Grant (2004). A small frog, males to 27 mm, females to 28 mm. The third finger is swollen in adult males.


The dorsal surface is dark brown with no lighter dorsolateral striping.


The ventral surface differs between males and females. In males, the ventral surface is white or has some faint mottling. In females, the throat has extensive darker mottling not typically present in males. The bright white vocal sac of males may be a visual signal of territorial defense (Wells 1980a).

Concealed surfaces

The lateral surface is dark brown, interrupted by a thin white line extending from the groin to halfway to the armpit along the side of the body.

Distinguishing characteristics

Bright gold or yellow coloration is present in the armpit, groin, and concealed surfaces of the hind limbs.


The feet are moderately webbed.

Life history

Breeding season

In a January to November study, C. panamansis was reproductively active in every month except April, but reproduction slowed in the wettest months late in the rainy season (Wells 1980a). Reproduction peaks in May and June (Wells 1980a).


Eggs are laid on land, and then females carry tadpoles (up to 40 at one time) on their backs to streams to continue development (Wells 1980a & b). Some tadpoles remain on the backs of females for up to 9 days (Wells 1980a & b). During that time, they gain length by feeding on yolk reserves, and possibly by feeding from the female's back when she enters small pools of water (Wells 1980b).

Metamorph juvenile

Frogs reach maturity 4-6 months after metamorphosis (Wells 1980a). The bright yellow coloration present in adults is undeveloped in juveniles (Grant 2004).

Ecology behavior and evolution


Colostethus panamansis populations have likely begun to decline east of the Panama Canal due to outbreaks of chytrid fungus (Woodhams et al 2008).


A short trill (Wells 1980a). Colostethus panamansis also produces an aggressive call, a long peep (Wells 1980a). Close encounters elicit an aggressive chirp (Wells 1980a).

Behavior and communication

Colostethus panamansis defends territories (Duellman 1966, Wells 1980a). Both males and females show aggressive behavior, and territorial defense is strongest in the dry season, when suitable habitat and resources are scarce (Wells 1980a). This species even shows aggression towards other species, particularly Colostethus pratti (Wells 1980a). An excellent description and photographs of aggressive, courtship and reproductive behavior can be found in Wells (1980a).

Taxonomy and systematics



Dunn 1933


Hyloxalus panamansis, Prostherapis inguinalis panamansis, Prostherapis panamansis

Type locality

El Valle de Anton in the northwestern corner of the Province of Panama


Removed from the synonymy with Colostethus inguinalis by Grant (2004). Thus, some references for Colostethus inguinalis may actually pertain to this species.

Habitat and distribution


Lowland rainforest to 800 m.


Colombia, Panama


Brem, FMR and KR Lips. 2008. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection patterns among Panamanian amphibian species, habitats and elevations during epizootic and enzootic stages. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 81: 189–202.

Daly, JW, F Gusovsky, CW Myers, M Yotsu-Yamashita, and T Yasumoto. 1994. First occurrence of tetrodotoxin in a dendrobatid frog (Colostethus inguinalis), with further reports for the bufonid genus Atelopus. Toxicon 32(3): 279-85.

Duellman, WE. 1966. Aggressive behavior in dendrobatid frogs. Herpetologica 22: 217-221.

Dunn, ER. 1933. Amphibians and reptiles from El Valle de Anton, Panama. Occasional Papers of the Boston Society of Natural History 8: 65-79.

Dunn, ER. 1940. New and Noteworthy Herpetological Material from Panama. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 92: 105-122.

Grant, T. 2004. On the identities of Colostethus inguinalis (Cope, 1868) and C. panamensis (Dunn, 1933), with comments on C. latinasus (Cope, 1863) (Anura: Dendrobatidae). American Museum Novitates: 24pp.

Heatwole, HF and OJ Sexton. 1966.Herpetofaunal comparisons between two climatic zones in Panama. American Midland Naturalist 75: 45-60.

Ibáñez, R, F Solís, C Jaramillo, and S 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, KR, FBrem, R Brenes, JD Reeve, RA Alford, J Voyles, C Carey, L Livo, AP Pessier and JP Collins. 2006. Emerging Infectious Disease and the Loss of Biodiversity in a Neotropical Amphibian Community. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103(9): 3165-3170.

Peters, JA. 1952. Catalogue of the type specimens in the herpetological collections of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 539: 1-55.

Savage, JM. 1968. The dendrobatid frogs of Central America. Copeia 1968(4): 745-776.

Silverstone, PA. 1976. A revision of the poison-arrow frogs of the genus Phyllobates Bibron in Sagra (family Dendrobatidae). Science Bulletin. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 27: 1-53.

Taigen, TL and FH Pough. 1983. Prey preference, foraging behavior, and metabolic characteristics of frogs. The American Naturalist 122(4): 509-520.

Taigen, TL and FH Pough. 1985. Metabolic correlates of anuran behavior. American Zoologist 25(4): 987-997.

Taigen, TL and FH Pough. 1990. Metabolic correlates of foraging and social behavior of dart-poison frogs. Animal Behaviour 39(1): 145-155.

Toft, CA. 1980.. Seasonal variation in populations of Panamanian litter frogs and their prey: a comparison of wetter and drier sites. Oecologia 47(1): 34-38.

Verburg, P, SS Kilham, CM Pringle, KR Lips and DL Drake. 2007. A stable isotope study of a neotropical stream food web prior to the extirpation of its large amphibian community. Journal of Tropical Ecology 23(6): 643-651.

Wells, KD and JJ Schwartz. 2007. The behavioral ecology of anuran communication. In: Peter M. Narins, Albert S. Feng, Richard R. Fay and Arthur N. Popper. Hearing and Sound in Communication of Amphibians. Springer, New York.

Wells, KD. 1980a. Behavioral ecology and social organization of a dendrobatid frog (Colostethus inguinalis). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 6: 199-209.

Wells, KD. 1980b. Evidence for growth of tadpoles during parental transport in Colostethus inguinalis. Journal of Herpetology 14(4): 428-430.

Woodhams, DC, J Voyles, KR Lips, C Carey and LA Rollins-Smith. 2006. Predicted disease susceptibility in a Panamanian amphibian assemblage based on skin peptide defenses. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 42(2): 207-218.

Woodhams, DC, VL Kilburn , LK Reinert, J Voyles , D Medina, RIbáñez, AD Hyatt, DG Boyle, JD Pask, DM Green, and LA Rollins-Smith. 2008. Chytridiomycosis and amphibian population declines continue to spread eastward in Panama. EcoHealth 5(3): 268-274.

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