Field Report: 2018-01-01

Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas

Kicking off 2018 with treefrogs and arboreal pitvipers in southern México

Target Species
New Species

The HERP.MX Field Team opted to spend the New Year (and the dry season's midpoint) in the corner of the country most likely to retain a bit of moisture – the rainforests of Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas.

After a brief stop in Veracruz to leave specimens at the Instituto Lorancai for researchers at UNAM — the team headed south for the mountains of Chiapas. Despite widespread deforestation, many of the arroyos support crystal-clear streams and thick vegetation hiding an assortment of herpetofaunal gems.

Rainforest remnants in the mountains of Chiapas ©Ivan Ahumada Carrillo / HERP.MX
Remnants of Bothriechis rowleyi habitat in the mountains of Chiapas

Surveying those creeks yielded several frog species, Colubrids and our primary target, the true jewels of those mountains: Rowley's Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis rowleyi).

A juvenile Rowley's Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis rowleyi) ©Ivan Ahumada Carrillo / HERP.MX
A juvenile Rowley's Palm Pitviper
(Bothriechis rowleyi)
Fischer's Snail Eating Snake
(Tropidodipsas fischeri)
Chiapas Burrowing Snake
(Adelphicos sp.)
Pine-forest Stream Frog
(Ptychohyla macrotympanum)
A juvenile Rowley's Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis rowleyi) from Chiapas

Some Noteworthy Finds...

We were pleased to find the second of our targets: the Fairy Treefrog (Charadrahyla chaneque), an endangered species known from just a handful of localities in Chiapas and adjacent Oaxaca where it inhabits high-elevation streams. The species epithet references the náhuatl word for spirits or beings that inhabit and protect dangerous places.

A nocturnal survey of a disturbed plot of cloud-forest yielded an unidentified species of Fringe-Limbed Treefrog (Ecnomiohyla sp.) and an undentified Anole (Anolis sp.). While specialists in both groups suspect the specimens represent undescribed species, we're awaiting further analysis for confirmation.

Stream habitat for both pitvipers and treefrogs in the mountains of Chiapas

A Fairy Treefrog
(Charadrahyla chaneque)
An undescribed Anole
(Anolis sp.)
An undescribed Fringe-Limbed Treefrog
(Ecnomiohyla sp.)

Chasing the unknown

Mostly satisfied with the results in Chiapas, we set off for the remote southern corner of Veracruz to see if our palm pitviper luck might extend to our third target, the Eyelash Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii). While not known from the state of Veracruz, the recent discovery of a 1950's museum specimen from Oaxaca suggests that these snakes are likely present within the state's borders.

After a good deal of off-roading, we reached the edges of human encroachment near the border with Oaxaca.

The long road to nowhere...
Near the limit of human encroachment

Fleischmann's Glass Frog
(Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni)
A ventral view of
Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni
Oaxaca Treefrog
(Plectrohyla celata)
Alfred's Rainfrog
(Craugastor alfredi)

Though the habitat looked ideal, the pitvipers were nowhere to be found. Night surveys yielded a variety of Anurans including Red-eyed Treefrogs (Agalychnis-callidryas), Hourglass Treefrogs (Dendrosophus ebracatus) and Mahoganny Treefrogs (Tlalocohyla loquax) as brilliant consolation prizes for our effort. And with that, we started our long-road home to central Jalisco.

Hourglass Treefrog
(Dendrosophus ebracatus)
Mahoganny Treefrog
(Tlalocohyla loquax)
Red-eyed Treefrog
(Agalychnis callidryas)
Chimalapa Toads in amplexus
(Incilius tutelarius)

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