Gastrotheca excubitor 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Hemiphractidae

Scientific Name: Gastrotheca excubitor Duellman & Fritts, 1972
Common Name(s):
English Abra Acanacu Marsupial Frog
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2016. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0 (31 March 2016). New York, USA. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: A distinct genetic difference exists between a specimen from Abra Amparaes and two individuals from Abra Acjanaco (Duellman et al. 2011). Much more extensive phylogenetic analyses most likely will reveal that G. excubitor, as it is now recognized, consists of two or more cryptic species (Duellman and Trueb 2015).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-04-20
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Luedtke, J.
Contributor(s): Catenazzi, A., Angulo, A., Córdova-Santa Gadea, J. & Arizabal, W.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Neam, K., Hobin, L.
Listed as Vulnerable because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 6,151 km2, it occurs in five threat-defined locations, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its forest habitat in the Peruvian Andes.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is known from the crests and high Amazonian slopes of the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes in Cusco, Peru. Records from the Department of Cajamarca are most likely to be in error and have not been confirmed to belong to this species (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. April 2017). Presently, several subpopulations in the Cordillera Oriental in the Region of Cusco are assigned to this species: 3,080–3,580 m asl on the slopes of Abra Amparaes, 3,160–4,080 m asl on the slopes of Abra Málaga, and 3,100–3,200 m asl on the slopes of Abra Marcapata, though not all of these may represent G. excubitor. It has an altitudinal range of 2,000–4,080 m asl. It occurs in five threat-defined locations and its EOO is 6,151 km2.
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Number of Locations:5
Lower elevation limit (metres):2000
Upper elevation limit (metres):4080
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is common at Abra Acjanaco (Duellman et al. 2011). During a 1975 study, 12 individuals were collected at Abra Acanacu, 25 km NNE Paucartambo (Péfaur and Duellman 1980). Surveys in Cusco during 2007 and 2008 detected 20 individuals over 25 person-days and 15 individuals over 32 person-days, respectively (von May et al. 2008). In January 2009, several males were heard calling (exact number unknown) at Abra Acjanaco (Duellman et al. 2011). In the same year, 11 individuals were observed during surveys in montane forests along the Paucartambo–Shintuya road in Kosñipata Valley, Manu National Park (Catenazzi et al. 2011). Twelve frogs were collected along the Paucartambo-Shintuya road in the eastern slopes of the Cordillera de Paucartambo, Cusco during June–August 2012 (Burkart 2015). Surveys in 1996-1999, 2008–2009, and 2012–2016 recorded this species repeatedly within its known distribution, however slight declines in the subpopulations have been observed over this time and the species is not quite as abundant as it has been previously (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. 2017). Two dead individuals have also been recorded over this time period, although the cause for this is unknown (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. 2017, Burkart et al. 2017).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is a terrestrial species inhabiting humid puna with mosses and bunchgrass, above the treeline. It exhibits some resilience in the face of habitat disturbance, and may be found in low intensity farmed areas. Most individuals have been found beneath stones during the day or walking about in deep moss. Males have been heard calling at night from 20:30–22:30 (Duellman et al. 2011). Females have a single median brood pouch, which is used to brood the eggs until they hatch into froglets via direct development. On average, females have about 20 eggs (n=34) that measure about 6 mm in diameter (Duellman and Trueb 2015).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There are no records of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat is extensive habitat loss due to agriculture (tea and coffee), burning of grasslands (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. April 2017) and the development of infrastructure for tourism (Aguilar et al. 2010).

The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been detected in this species at Kosñipata and other montane locations around Cusco (A. Catenazzi and V. Vredenburg pers. obs., Catenazzi et al. 2011, Kosch et al. 2012). In 2009, B. dendrobatidis prevalence was 18.2% (n=11) and mean infection intensity (Zswab) was 3,788.4 (Catenazzi et al. 2011). This species, however, appears to be resistant to the disease due to stronger anti-Bd skin bacteria (Burkart 2015, Catenazzi, Vredenburg et al. unpublished data).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions
This species is recorded from Manu National Park, Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, ACP Abra Málaga and ACP Ukumari Llakta, a private reserve established on 9 March 2007 covering a territory of 1,053 ha between Málaga Chico and Río San Luis. 

Conservation Needed
Further habitat protection is required.

Research Needed
More information is needed on this species' distribution, population status, natural history, and threats. There is a need for close monitoring of the status of this species given the detection of chytridiomycosis.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.3. Tourism & recreation areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:No decline ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 3 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Aguilar, C., Ramirez, C., Rivera, D., Siu-Ting, K., Suarez, J. and Torres, C. 2010. Anfibios andinos del Perú fuera de Áreas Nationales Protegidas: amenazas y estado de conservación. Revista Peruana de Biología 17(1): 005-028.

Burkart, D. 2015. Understanding chytridiomycosis resistance by investigating the cutaneous defense mechanisms of marsupial frogs. Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Burkart, D., Flechas, S.V., Vredenburg, V.T. and Catenazzi, A. 2017. Cutaneous bacteria, but not peptides, are associated with chytridiomycosis resistance in Peruvian marsupial frogs. Animal Conservation. doi:10.1111.

Castroviejo-Fisher, S., Padial, J.M, De la Riva, I., Pombal, Jr., J.P., da Silva, H.R., Rojas-Runjaic, F.J.M., Medina-Méndez, E and Frost, D.R. 2015. Phylogenetic systematics of egg-brooding frogs (Anura: Hemiphractidae) and the evolution of direct development. Zootaxa 4004: 1–75.

Catenazzi, A., Lehr, E. and von May, R. 2013. The amphibians and reptiles of Manu National Park and its buffer zone, Amazon basin and eastern slopes of the Andes, Peru. Biota Neotropica 13(4): 269-283.

Catenazzi, A., Lehr, E., Rodriguez, L.O. and Vredenburg, V.T. 2011. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and the collapse of anuran species richness and abundance in the Upper Manu National Park, southeastern Peru. Conservation Biology 25(2): 382-391.

Duellman, W.E. and Fritts, T.H. 1972. A taxonomic review of the southern Andean marsupial frogs (Hylidae: Gastrotheca). Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History of the University of Kansas 9: 1-37.

Duellman, W.E. and Köhler, J. 2005. New species of marsupial frog (Hylidae: Hemiphractinae: Gastrotheca) from the Yungas of Bolivia. Journal of Herpetology 39: 91-100.

Duellman, W.E. and Trueb, L. 2015. Marsupial Frogs: Gastrotheca and Allied Genera. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

Duellman, W.E., Catenazzi, A. and Blackburn, D.C. 2011. A new species of marsupial frog (Anura: Hemiphractidae: Gastrotheca) from the Andes of southern Peru. Zootaxa 3095: 1-14.

Faivovich, J., Haddad, C.F.B., Garcia, P.C.O., Frost, D.R., Campbell, J.A. and Wheeler, W.C. 2005. Systematic review of the frog family Hylidae, with special reference to Hylinae: Phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 294: 1-240.

Franco, J.F. 2013. Los Anfibios y Reptiles del santuario histórico de Machu Picchu. Bioma 1(3): 19-22.

Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (INRENA). 2000. Mapa de areas naturales protegidas del Peru.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. Available at: (Accessed: 7 December 2017).

Kosch, T.A., Morales, V. and Summers, K. 2012. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Peru. Herpetological Review 43(2).

Péfaur, J.E. and Duellman, W.E. 1980. Community Structure in High Andean Herpetofaunas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science (1903) 83(2): 45-65.

Rodríguez, L.O., Cordova, J.H. and Icochea, J. 1993. Lista preliminar de los anfibios del Peru. Publicaciones del Museo de Historia Natural U.N.M.S.M. 45: 1-22.

von May, R., Catenazzi, A., Angulo, A., Brown, J.L., Carrillo, J., Chávez, G., Córdova, J.H., Curo, A., Delgado, A., Enciso, M.A., Guttiérez, R., Lehr, E., Martínez, J.L., Martina-Müller, M., Miranda, A., Neira, D.R., Ochoa, J.A., Quiroz, A.J., Rodríguez, D.A., Rodríguez, L.O., Salas, A.W., Seimon, T., Seimon, A., Siu-Ting, K., Suárez, J., Torres, C. and Twomey, E. 2008. Current state of conservation knowledge on threatened amphibian species in Peru. Tropical Conservation Science 1(4): 376-396.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2017. Gastrotheca excubitor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T55333A89203049. . Downloaded on 23 June 2018.
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