Our Rio Zunac Reserve has been an endless source of new discoveries of plants and animals. I’ve written in the past about the discovery of new magnolia species, new melastomes and orchids, and new frogs. Last month herpetologists Juan Pablo Reyes (who is also our reserve manager), Carolina Reyes, Maria Perez L., and Mario Yanez, (who is also an EcoMinga director and head of the National Institute for Biodiversity), have published two more new frogs from this reserve. One of the new species, Pristimantis pinchaque, was discovered at 1600m elevation in the immediate vicinity of the scientific station that we built there some years ago with the help of the IUCN-Netherlands and the Netherlands Postcode Lottery, while the other new species, Pristimantis sacharuna, was discovered farther up the trail from the station, at 2200m. That makes four new species discovered so far in this reserve, joining Pristimantis ardyae and Osornophryne simpsonii.
Pristimantis pinchaque is apparently very rare; it has not been seen since the first two specimens were found in 2008, even though many herpetologists have visited the site since then. It is named after the Mountain Tapir, Tapirus pinchaque, a charismatic and endangered mammal which lives in the same forest. Pristimantis sacharuna is also apparently very rare, with only two specimens found in four years of investigation. It is named after the “duendi” or mythic forest man of indigenous legends.
The story of these discoveries was covered nicely by the national press. The country’s largest newspaper, El Comercio, even made an interactive article that lets readers see the diagnostic traits of each frog by clicking on different parts of its anatomy, and in a special feature for their “Planet” section, they also published a nice diagram to help readers distinguish the frogs:
And there is still more to come! We have two more new frog species being described right now, from survey work supported by a donation from Henri Botter and Ardy Van Ooij of the Netherlands.
These investigations are collaborative efforts between EcoMinga and the National Institute of Biodiversity, the Zoological Museum of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, and the Fundacion Oscar Efren Reyes. We’re excited to have such distinguished collaborators, and we are eager to see what surprises still await us in these very special forests.