Sunday, May 2, 2021

[Herpetology • 2021] Pristimantis astralos • A New, Critically Endangered Species of Pristimantis (Anura: Strabomantidae) from A Mining Area in the Cordillera Occidental of northern Peru (Región Cajamarca)

Pristimantis astralos  
 Lehr, Lyu & Catenazzi, 2021


We describe a new species of Pristimantis from high Andean grasslands (jalca) at 3600 m above sea level in northern Peru (Región Cajamarca) based on morphological and molecular characters. The new species is known from four males and five females, which were found sheltering in the rosettes of Puya fastuosa (Bromeliaceae). The phylogenetic analysis of a fragment of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene suggests that the new species is a sister taxon of Pristimantis simonsii. The new species differs from its congeners by having a black dorsum speckled with white flecks and a dark brown groin with white spots. Furthermore, adult males have a snout–vent length of 23.6–27.2 mm (n = 4), and adult females of 25.6–32.8 mm (n = 5). Intensive mining activities apparently have extirpated the new species at its type locality and it is therefore considered critically endangered. We discuss the impact of mining on biodiversity and biological surveys in Peru. 

Key words. Extirpation, gold mining, Hualgayoc, jalca, morphology, phylogeny, systematics, Pristimantis astralos new species, Peru. 

Holotype of Pristimantis astralos sp. n. (MUSM 32752) in life, in lateral (A), dorsal, (B), and ventral (C) views.
Photos by C. Diaz.

Holotype of Pristimantis astralos sp. n. (MUSM 32752) in life, 
in lateral (A), dorsal, (B), and ventral (C) views. 

Ventral views of hand (A) and foot (B) of the holotype (MUSM 8796). 

Photos by C. Diaz. Drawings by S. Lyu.

Pristimantis astralos sp. n. 

Diagnosis: (1) Skin on dorsum tuberculate, skin on venter coarsely areolate; discoidal and thoracic folds present, dorsolateral folds present; (2) tympanic membrane and tympanic annulus present, distinct, visible externally; (3) snout broadly rounded to truncate in dorsal view, round in lateral view; (4) upper eyelid lacking conical tubercles; EW smaller than IOD; cranial crest absent; (5) dentigerous processes of vomers oblique; (6) males with vocal slits, subgular vocal sac, and with nuptial pads; (7) Finger I shorter than Finger II; discs of digits broadly expanded, round, bearing circumferential grooves; (8) fingers with lateral fringes; (9) ulnar and tarsal tubercles present; (10) heel lacking conical tubercles; inner tarsal fold present; (11) inner metatarsal tubercle ovoid, 2–3 times larger than outer one, outer metatarsal tubercle small, ovoid; numerous supernumerary tubercles; (12) toes with lateral fringes; basal toe webbing present; Toe V longer than Toe III; toe discs about as large as those on fingers, bearing circumferential grooves; (13) in life, dorsum ranges from black to dark brown with or without white flecks; anterior and posterior face of thighs black to dark brown with white spots; flanks black to dark tan, with or without white or cream flecks; groin black to dark brown with or without white spots; venter dark to pale grey with black dots; iris dark copper-colored with fine black vermiculations; (14) SVL in adult females 25.6–32.8 mm (n = 5), in adult males 23.6–27.2 mm (n = 4).

Etymology: The species epithet astralos is a Greek adjective meaning “spotted with stars” or “speckled”. The name refers to the dorsal white spots on black background of the species that is reminiscent of stars in the night sky.

Coloration variation of male Pristimantis astralos sp. n.:
MUSM 32754, SVL 24.9 mm (A, B, C); MUSM 32756, SVL 23.6 mm (D, E, F)
in dorsal (A, D), lateral (B, E), and ventral (C, F) views.
Photos by C. Diaz.

Satellite imagery from GoogleEarth showing the Cerro Corona-Gold Fields Cima Mine (Regíon Cajamarca, Hualgayoc district) and the type locality (yellow star) of Pristimantis astralos sp. n.
 This satellite image was taken prior to the destruction of the type locality at the end of 2014.
Figure by E. Lehr.

Map of Peru indicating the type locality (red star) of Pristimantis astralos sp. n.
 Map by E. Lehr.

Edgar Lehr, Shenyu Lyu and Alessandro Catenazzi. 2021. A New, Critically Endangered Species of Pristimantis (Amphibia: Anura: Strabomantidae) from A Mining Area in the Cordillera Occidental of northern Peru (Región Cajamarca). SALAMANDRA. 57(1); 15-26.

Resumen. Describimos una nueva especie de Pristimantis de pastizales altoandinos (jalca) a 3600 m s.n.m. en el norte de Perú (Región Cajamarca) en base a caracteres morfológicos y moleculares. La nueva especie se conoce de cuatro machos y cinco hembras que encontramos escondidos en rosetas de Puya fastuosa (Bromeliaceae). El análisis filogenético de un fragmento del gen mitocondrial 16S rRNA sugiere que la nueva especie es el taxón hermano de Pristimantis simonsii. La nueva especie se distingue de sus congéneres por tener un dorso negro con manchas blancas rociadas y una ingle de color marrón oscuro con manchas blancas. Además, los machos adultos tienen una longitud hocico-cloaca de 23.6–27.2 mm (n = 4), y las hembras adultas de 25.6–32.8 mm (n = 5). Debido a las intensas actividades mineras, la nueva especie ha sido extirpada en su localidad tipo. Discutimos el impacto de la minería sobre la biodiversidad y los estudios biológicos en Perú.