The Critically Endangered Symington’s robber frog is endemic to the Caribbean island of Cuba.
Symington’s robber frog is one of more than 100 species comprising the diverse Eleutherodactylus genus. These species were previously considered part of an even larger genus containing more than 700 species, before it was split into several smaller genera.
Though there is still much work to be done regarding the taxonomy of this large group of frogs, which is distributed across Central America and the Caribbean, it is thought they diverged from all other amphibians around 50 million years ago. In evolutionary terms, this means these frogs are as distantly related to other amphibians as wolves are to tigers!
This species has undergone a drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 80% over the last ten years and an expected further 25% decline within three years. Disease, such as the Chytrid fungus, is likely to have had a major impact on this species. Therefore, Symington’s robber frog is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
The range of this Symington’s robber frog has now decreased significantly and their habitat and distribution has become severely fragmented, as they are now known from relatively small scattered localities. The main threat to this frog is habitat loss, particularly due to infrastructure development for tourism, disturbance by anthroprogenic activity and agriculture.
This frog occurs in a few protected areas, but there is insufficient management of these for conservation. Improved protection of the existing protected areas network is needed as is the identification of the cause of the decline.
- Order: Anura
- Family: Eleutherodactylidae
- Population: <250
- Trend: decreasing
This species was found throughout western Cuba in Pinar del Río and Matanzas Provinces, Cuba, around 70-155 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives in rocky areas and caves in lowland, mesic closed-canopy broadleaf forest. They breed by direct development where young emerge from their eggs as miniature versions of adults and a free-living larval stage is bypassed.