Dendrobates sp.
Dendrobates sp.
(a Poison Dart Frog)
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Dendrobates sp. Wagler, 1830

Common name: a Poison Dart Frog

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: This specimen of the genus Dendrobates has not been identified with any certainty.  In general, dart-poison frogs are small dendrobatids (poison frogs), ranging in length from 15-62 mm (0.6-2.5 in) (Silverstone, 1975; Zweifel, 1998).  The typically beautiful color patterns are highly variable, even within species, and have been illustrated by several authors (Silverstone, 1975; Walls, 1994; Lamar, 1997).  Illustrations of the tadpoles of different species of Dendrobates can be found in Silverstone (1975) and Walls (1994).

Size: snout-vent length of 15-62 mm

Native Range: The genus Dendrobates is indigenous to Central America, and the northern and central portions of South America (Silverstone, 1975; Walls, 1994; Campbell, 1999; Duellman, 1999; Zug et al., 2001).
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Nonindigenous Occurrences: In 1994 a single specimen of Dendrobates, not identified to species level, was collected in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, U.S. (Bishop Museum Records—1997 output, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii).

Means of Introduction: Unknown; but it is probably a pet release.

Status: If this is a new species to the island of Oahu it is probably not established.

Impact of Introduction: None.  However, should any of these insectivorous frogs establish a population in a state that has no indigenous, and only nonindigenous species of frogs (McKeown, 1996), a further burden would be placed upon the ecology of Hawaii.

Remarks: The taxonomy of Dendrobates and related dendrobatids has been reviewed or summarized by many authorities (Silverstone, 1975; Myers and Daly, 1983; Frost, 1985; Zimmermann and Zimmermann, 1988; Caldwell, 1996; Summers et al., 1999; Zug et al., 2001).  Members of the genus Dendrobates are nonaquatic, mostly tropical, diurnal frogs that primarily have an insectivorous diet (Silverstone, 1975; Walls, 1994; Zweifel, 1998; Pough et al., 2001; Zug et al., 2001).  In many species the skin toxins seem to be derived from their diet; especially ants (myrmecophagy: Caldwell, 1996).  The reproductive behaviors of different species of dart-poison frogs have been the subject of much study due to the complex variety of parental care that one (paternal or maternal) or both parents provide the eggs and tadpoles (Wells, 1981; Weygoldt, 1987; Zimmermann and Zimmermann, 1988; Crump, 1995, 1996; Summers et al., 1999; Zug et al., 2001).

An effort should be made to ensure that the specimen from Honolulu, Oahu, is not an unverified D. auratus; the only Dendrobates that has established populations in Hawaii (Oliver and Shaw, 1953; McKeown, 1996; also see the species accounts titled "Dendrobates auratus (Girard, 1855)" and "Dendrobates leucomelas Steindachner, 1864" on this website).

Species of Dendrobates and other dendrobatids are popular in the commercial pet trade (Zimmerman[n], 1979; Mattison, 1987; Zimmermann, 1986; Walls, 1994; Davies and Davies, 1997).

References: (click for full references)

Caldwell, J. P. 1996. The evolution of myrmecophagy and its correlates in poison frogs (Family Dendrobatidae). Journal of Zoology (London) 240(1):75-101.

Campbell, J. A. 1999. Distribution patterns of amphibians in Middle America. Pp. 111-210. In: W. E. Duellman (editor). Patterns of Distribution of Amphibians. A Global Perspective. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 633 pp.

Crump, M. L. 1995. Parental care. Pp. 518-567. In: H. Heatwole (editor). Amphibian Biology. Vol. 2. Social Behaviour. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia. 710 pp.

Crump, M. L. 1996. Parental care among the Amphibia. Advances in the Study of Behavior 25:109-144.

Davies, R., and V. Davies. 1997. The Reptile & Amphibian Problem Solver. [North American Edition.] Tetra Press, Blacksburg, Virginia. 208 pp.

Duellman, W. E. 1999. Distribution patterns of amphibians in South America. Pp. 255-328. In: W. E. Duellman (editor). Patterns of Distribution of Amphibians. A Global Perspective. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 633 pp.

Frost, D. R. (editor). 1985. Amphibian Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographical Reference. Allen Press, Inc. and The Association of Systematics Collections. Lawrence, Kansas. 732 pp.

Lamar, W. W. 1997. The World's Most Spectacular Reptiles & Amphibians. World Publications, Tampa. 208 pp.

Mattison, C. 1987. Frogs & Toads of the World. Facts on File, Inc, New York. 191 pp.

McKeown, S. 1996. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands. Diamond Head Publishing, Inc., Los Osos, California. 172 pp.

Myers, C. W., and J. W. Daly. 1983. Dart-poison frogs. Scientific American 248(2):120-121, 124-125, 127-133.

Oliver, J. A., and C. E. Shaw. 1953. The amphibians and reptiles of the Hawaiian Islands. Zoologica (New York) 38(5):65-95.

Pough, F. H, R. M. Andrews, J. E. Cadle, M. L. Crump, A. H. Savitzky, and K. D. Wells. 2001 [2000]. Herpetology. Second Edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. 612 pp.

Silverstone, P. A. 1975. A revision of the poison-arrow frogs of the genus Dendrobates Wagler. Science Bulletin, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (21):i-iii, 1-55, I-II frontispiece.

Summers, K., L. A. Weigt, P. Boag, and E. Bermingham. 1999. The evolution of female parental care in poison frogs of the genus Dendrobates: Evidence from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Herpetologica 55(2):254-270.

Walls, J. G. 1994. Jewels of the Rainforest – Poison Frogs of the Family Dendrobatidae. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey. 288 pp.

Wells, K. D. 1981. Parental behavior of male and female frogs. Pp. 184-197. In: R. D. Alexander and D. W. Tinkle (editors). Natural Selection and Social Behavior. Recent Research and New Theory. Chiron Press, New York. 532 pp.

Weygoldt, P. 1987. Evolution of parental care in dart poison frogs (Amphibia: Anura: Dendrobatidae). Zeitschrift für Zoologische Systematik und Evolutionsforschung 25(1):51-67.

Zimmerman[n], H. 1979. Tropical Frogs. [English Translation Edition.] T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune, New Jersey. 93 pp.

Zimmermann, E. 1986. Breeding Terrarium Animals. English-language Edition. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey. 384 pp.

Zimmermann, E., and H. Zimmermann. 1988. Etho-Taxonomie und Zoogeographische Artenggruppenbildung bei Pfeilgiftfröschen (Anura: Dendrobatidae). Salamandra 24(2/3):125-160.

Zug, G. R., L. J. Vitt, and J. P. Caldwell. 2001. Herpetology. An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. Second Edition. Academic Press, San Diego. 630 pp.

Zweifel, R. G. 1998. Frogs and toads. Pp. 76-105. In: H. G. Cogger and R. G. Zweifel (editors). Encyclopedia of Amphibians & Reptiles. Second Edition. Academic Press, San Diego. 240 pp.

Author: Somma, L.A.

Revision Date: 6/28/2002

Citation Information:
Somma, L.A., 2018, Dendrobates sp. Wagler, 1830: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 6/28/2002, Access Date: 1/22/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/22/2018].

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