The latest lab contribution to amphibian taxonomy is a new species of Peruvian moss frog, Bryophryne phuyuhampatu, which we discovered during our second hike to Ukumari Llakta in June 2016. The discovery came after a morning long, brutal descent from the high Andean grassland down into the cloud forest. That afternoon was very moist and drizzly, as are most afternoons in the Andean cloud forests, but that did not prevent (some of) us from frogging.
Most of the frogs were found just across from our camp site, along the banks of a fast-flowing torrent. The forest grounds were covered by lush green mosses and leaf litter, the perfect habitat for Bryophryne frogs, as their name indicates (from greek, bryo = mosses). And the specific epithet, phuyuhampatu, comes from Quechua meaning frog (hampatu) of the clouds (phuyu). These frogs live under mosses, are small (<1 in), and "freeze" when moss is removed - making them hard to spot.
We found another individual further down the valley, where the torrent grew somewhat larger and became more arduous to cross, as our collaborators and coauthors Isabel Diaz and Alex Ttito soon realized. This new frog is smaller than previously known Bryophryne, and is only known to occur in the Quespillomayo valley within the reserve. All species of this genus are micro-endemics, and 12 out of 13 known species have been described since 2009.
News from the lab