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High Andean water frog

Telmatobius jelskii

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What are the characteristics of this species?

  • Telmatobius jelskii is an Andean aquatic frog endemic to Peru and is distributed in the Departments of Junín, Huancavelica and Ayacucho.

  • Its size varies between 53-67 mm in males (average 58.5 mm) and between 55-71 mm (average 60.5 mm) in females. The morphological characters are extremely variable in this species, which usually has thick, finely grained skin or with few flattened verrugosities; however, there are also more aquatic forms of smooth skin with developed interdigital membranes. The dorsal skin excretes a sticky substance.

  • The main feature that distinguishes T. jelskii is its yellow-orange ventral coloration present in all individuals more or less extensive (can be limited to the ventral side of the thighs).

  • The altitudinal distribution of this species reaches 5,100 meters above sea level.

  • Its reproduction occurs between January-May in bofedales, lagoons and streams of slow waters in the central Andes. Adults undertake reproductive migrations and synchronize the deposit and fertilization of eggs in long gelatinous cords. The tadpoles are uniformly very dark in color. Larval development takes 3-4 months.

Where do we study the species?

The study area is located in the bofedales, gorges and river banks of several ELUs that correspond to Chiquintirca (ELU 1), Yucay (ELU 5), Huamanga-Vischongo (ELU 6), Vinchos (ELU 7), Apacheta (ELU) 8), Pampas-Palmitos (ELU 9), and Huaytará (ELU 10).

What questions do we seek to answer with the study?

  • What is the distribution, reproductive cycle and status of T. jelskii in the area of ​​influence of the pipeline?

  • Are there individuals infected with the fungus chitrido (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd) pathogen responsible for the decline of species of Telmatobius and other high Andean anurans in the last two decades, in the area of ​​influence of the pipeline?

  • What are the potential primary and / or secondary impacts that the pipeline could cause to the populations of T. jelskii and other anurans accompanying their habitats?

What general results have we obtained to date?

  • The presence of T. jelskii populations in more than 10 springs and streams in the area of ​​influence of the pipeline was confirmed. The species is very frequent in high Andean streams, springs and streams of the Huamanga-Vischongo, Vinchos and Apacheta ELUs (between 2,582-4,507 masl).

  • We observe that the reproduction of T. jelskii is continuous throughout the year. The reproduction, laying of eggs and development of the tadpoles occur mainly in pools with depth between 25-30 cm, depending on the season, generally with low current speed and in cold, clear waters, of relatively high conductivity and well oxygenated.

  • We found that the prevalence values ​​of the chytrid fungus (Bd) are high among tadpoles of the Huamanga-Vischongo ELU, although the intensity of the infection is relatively low.

  • To date, the results did not detect a negative effect of the presence of the pipeline on the probability of occurrence or relative abundance of tadpoles and adults of T. jelskii in the monitored stations.

Why is the conservation of this species important?

  • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature considers this species as almost threatened. Significant population declines and even extinctions of Telmatobius species have been reported in different places around the world.

  • It is a susceptible species to the infection by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that is a fungus that causes a disease in many cases mortal and that is diminishing the populations of amphibians in the whole world. Several of the zones studied have ideal conditions for epidemic outbreaks of chytridiomycosis, so it is vital to continue monitoring this species.

  • This species lives in bofedales, springs, streams, streams and other humid areas. These environments are being affected by changes in land use patterns, construction of drainage channels and conversion to agricultural production lands or pastures. In addition, the use of pesticides and fertilizers, as well as the emission of tailings by the mining industry, contaminate their habitat being a constant threat to this species and the aquatic fauna in general.

  • Frogs of the genus Telmatobius are captured for commercialization in the Andes, are purchased for direct human consumption and to be used in traditional Andean medicine.

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