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Unexpected Beta-Diversity Radiations in Highland Clades of Andean Terraranae Frogs

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Neotropical Diversification: Patterns and Processes

Part of the book series: Fascinating Life Sciences ((FLS))

Abstract

Several groups of direct-developing frogs of the Superfamily Brachycephaloidea (= Terraranae) are high Andean and occur in cloud forests, elfin forests, humid paramos, and grasslands, from Colombia to Bolivia.

They belong to different genera and experienced independent radiations, in some cases leading to stunning beta-diversity and high level of endemism.

Despite the remarkable accumulation of knowledge on the systematics and diversity of these frogs over the last decades, there has been no attempt to synthesize what is known about their morphology, life history, and evolutionary history. This is the goal of this contribution. Through this review, it becomes evident that similar life histories and ecological niches are associated with a particular, convergent morphology, here referred to as the “phrynopoid” ecomorph, which is also present in members of other groups that occupy those same habitats. It refers to small frogs with plump bodies, short legs, and simple digital tips, presumably adapted to a terrestrial life amidst the humid, mossed floor of paramos and upper cloud forests. Although it is possible to speculate on the mechanisms underlying the remarkable diversity of phrynopoid frogs, the geological and climatic processes that promoted the diversification and the present species diversity are still too poorly known to enable inferences about their evolutionary history. Much fieldwork and integrative studies are needed before we can attain a comprehensive knowledge of this important component of the Andean biota. Hopefully, this review provides a starting point.

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Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Octavio Jiménez-Robles (MNCN) for his invaluable help making of modifying some of the figures; to Violeta López Márquez and Annie Machordom (MNCN) for their assistance with the Mantel test; to Patricia A. Burrowes (University of Puerto Rico) for her valuable comments and corrections, help in many ways, and patience while I was finishing the first draft of this chapter; to Santiago Castroviejo-Fisher for his critical reading of the manuscript and the highly pertinent advice for improvement; to César Barrio for the picture of Pristimantis ginesi and José M. Padial for that of Oreobates ayacucho; and, last but not least, to James Aparicio (Colección Boliviana de Fauna, La Paz) and the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (La Paz, Bolivia) for the continuous help through many years of fieldwork in Bolivia. This work has been funded by projects CGL2005-03156/BOS, CGL2008-04164/BOS, CGL2011-30393, and CGL2014-56160-P of the Spanish Government (PI, I. De la Riva). I dedicate this paper to my post-doctoral advisor (in the 1990s), friend, and colleague William E. Duellman (The University of Kansas) as an homage for his outstanding and impressive contribution to the knowledge of Neotropical amphibians in general and Andean Terraranan frogs in particular (Bill, I’m sorry; despite all your efforts, a huge bunch of species still remain undescribed!).

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De la Riva, I. (2020). Unexpected Beta-Diversity Radiations in Highland Clades of Andean Terraranae Frogs. In: Rull, V., Carnaval, A. (eds) Neotropical Diversification: Patterns and Processes. Fascinating Life Sciences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-31167-4_27

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