Ameerega bassleri

Melin, 1941

Ameerega bassleri

Distribution
Central and Northern San Martin, Peru, normally between elevations of 500-1200 meters. Restricted to mountain ranges throughout the Cordillera Oriental near Tarapoto and central Huallaga river valley.

Natural History
This is a montane species that prefers to live alongside small streams and creeks. At lower elevations, these frogs are completely restricted to cool, humid pockets that surround small streams, whereas in the highlands they can be found just about anywhere. Tadpoles are typically deposited in small ditches or backwaters near streams, but rarely in flowing water.

Conservation Status
The population status of this species in the wild varies between morphs. Some, such as the nominal morph, can be found in great numbers over 600 meters elevation. Conversely, the chrome green morph is highly endangered and has very little habitat remaining. In all cases, A. bassleri has a restricted range due to its dependence on cool conditions. Fortunately, smuggling has not been a significant problem in this species. Certain morphs (i.e. chrome green) could not withstand even light collection and would be in grave risk of extirpation of smuggling was to start.

Notes
Sister to A. yoshina.

Type Locality Map View Larger

Ameerega bassleri
Tarapoto Morph

The nominal morph inhabits much of the Cordillera Oriental and part of the Cordillera Azul in the vicinity of Tarapoto.

Yellow and Black Morph

This morph can be found in a mountain range southwest of Tarapoto. Females of this morph are thought to have fewer dorsal spots than males. This has yet to be confirmed, but if true it could be another example of sexual selection in dendrobatids.

Chrome-Green Morph

This morph was found on a 2005 expedition to a locality at about 1100m. The mission nearly ended in bitter defeat after a torturous passage through an overgrown coffee field full with thorns, vines, logs, and strategically placed spear-like sticks that nearly killed a dendrobater. However, after another 5 hours in the rain, and with the help of an extraordinary guide named Junior, we managed to stumble across a few individuals, who proved just as hard to catch as they were to locate. This is one of the most endangered dendrobatids in the area, with nearly all suitable habitat having been converted to cattle pastures.