Facts
  • Chile
  • The male takes the fertilised eggs from a moist nest into his vocal sac where they hatch into tadpoles after 8 days. Once he starts to feel them wriggling, he carefully transports them to a stream and regurgitates them there so that they can metamorphose. This is a process called mouth-brooding.
  • In its close relative, the Vulnerable Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) from Chile and Argentina, tadpoles mature into froglets within the male’s vocal sacs.
  • This species has been found near slowly running streams in wet temperate mix forest and bogs at elevations of 50 to 500 meters. It lives on the ground, often in the leaf litter of the forest floor.
  • The Chile Darwin frog was fairly regularly seen until around 1978. Since then it seems to have disappeared and may now be extinct.
Threats
  • The destruction of the native vegetation through the establishment of pine plantations and human settlement has probably had some impact on this species.
  • The fungal disease chytridiomycosis could be a possible cause of the species’ decline. This may explain its sudden disappearance, which can be a symptomatic affect of this pathogenic fungus. However, chytrid has not previously been reported from Chile.
Conservation Required
  • Further survey work is an urgent priority to attempt to determine whether the Chile Darwin frog still survives in the wild.
  • Chytrid monitoring of amphibians within the range of the Chile Darwin frog, since this could potentially pose a threat to other amphibians within this habitat.

Image of close relative, Darwin's frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) - no images are available of a living Chile Darwin's frog


Proposed Actions

EDGE would like to carry out field surveys to determine whether the species still survives in the wild.

The Chile Darwin's frog was fairly regularly seen until around 1978, since when it seems to have disappeared, and the species my now be extinct. This species, which lives in the leaf litter on the forest floor, has an unusual method of parental care; the male takes the fertilised eggs from the nest into his vocal sac where they hatch into tadpoles after approximately eight days. When he starts to feel the newly hatched tadpoles wriggling, the male carries them to a stream where he expels the young. Here they complete metamorphosis.

The cause of the decline in this species is not well understood; suspected threats include destruction of native vegetation through the establishment of pine plantations and expansing human settlement, and the fungal disease chytridiomycosis.

EDGE aims to carry out essential field survey work to establish the current status of the Chile Darwin's frog, the species' distribution, and which threats are acting on the species, including monitoring for chytrid. All of this is required to feed into the formulation of a Conservation Action Plan for the Chile Darwin's frog.

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Associated Blog Posts
26th Jun 13
Former EDGE fellow Claudio Soto-Azat has recently published a paper on the conservation of Darwin’s frogs, which includes the northern Darwin’s frog (Rhi...  Read

27th Apr 11
The unique early development of Darwin’s frogs By EDGE Fellow Claudio Soto-Azat Darwin’s frogs are two species of endemic anurans: the Northern Darwi...  Read

18th Oct 10
A second update from EDGE Fellow Claudio Soto-Azat. Darwin’s frogs are two species of endangered anurans endemic to the native template beech forests of C...  Read

11th Oct 10
An update from EDGE Fellow Claudio Soto-Azat Darwin’s frogs (Rhinoderma darwinii and R. rufum) are two endangered amphibians species only known from the t...  Read

23rd Apr 10
In the last year, EDGE Fellow for the conservation of Darwin’s frogs, wildlife veterinarian, Claudio Soto, has undertaken several activities in order to kn...  Read

12th Apr 10
Today's Species of the Day is the Darwin's frog (Rhinoderma darwinii). This is one of our EDGE amphibian focal species, along with its only close relative, t...  Read

17th Dec 09
Intrepid frog fan and documentary-maker Lucy Cooke recently embarked upon a South American odyssey to document the curious lives of amphibians and highlight ...  Read

11th Sep 09
Since the Global Amphibian Assessment came out in 2004, statistics detailing the sinister predicament of the amphibians have been widely and frequently quote...  Read