This species of water frog, found only in Bolivia, is adapted to living in the cold highlands (2). Females are usually slightly larger than males and often develop an unusually large head, particularly as they get older (2). Both sexes range in colour from brown to greyish-brown, with darker blotches on the back, and a paler cream coloured belly (2). The undersides of the legs are often orange or yellow and the bulging eyes are golden or beige with flecks of black (2). The snout is slightly pointed, the lips are a little flared, and the feet are webbed up to around a third of the length of the toes (2), helping this aquatic frog move efficiently through the water.
Although little is known about the biology of this species of water frog, other species in the same genus have been studied in more depth. In general, water frogs spawn (deposit their eggs) in the winter and the tadpoles develop slowly, in cold, fast-moving streams (3). After metamorphosis (when the tadpole begins to develop into a mature frog), the tiny froglets are about 2.5 centimetres in length (3).
Recent declines in this and other water frog species have been observed and at least one population at the north of the species’ range has drastically declined since the 1980s (2). Such declines are likely the result of a combination of threats, one of which may be the highly infectious and lethal disease chytridiomycosis (2). Caused by the fungus Batrachocytrium dendrobatidis, chytridiomycosis affects the skin of amphibians and has been found in several closely related frog species in South America (4). Other threats include habitat destruction and pollution which (2), in the form of chemical nutrients, can cause a build up of organic matter in streams and ponds (a process known as eutrophication). This organic matter can fill up holes and crevices which water frogs need for shelter during the day (5).
Some populations of Telmatobius hintoni live within the protected area of Tunari National Park in Bolivia; however, many other populations live in unprotected habitats (1). Numerous conservation actions have been recommended such as education and awareness raising programmes, as well as national legislation (1), all of which may help protect this little-known frog.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
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