AppearanceDuring the day the Lemur leaf frog is a vibrant green, but a darkens to brown as night approaches. This characteristic enhances its ability to camouflage in the day and hunt at night. The Lemur Leaf Frog is an observably frail, thin frog. Its lack of musculature in its arms and legs result from its unique mobility emphasizing the use of all four limbs in walking rather than the hind legs in leaping or forward propulsion. Its name is partially derived from the mammalian Lemur due to its walking behavior. It also presents no inter-digital webbing on the front or hind limbs. In the past its lack of webbing morphologically categorized the species under the family ''Phyllomedusinae.'' However, through recent analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences the species was found to be biologically related to the ''Hylidae'' and thus was removed from its previous group. This species of frog also displays sexual dimorphism, with the females being larger. Adult females range approximately from 40-45mm in length by 15-20mm in length across the abdomen in resting position, while males range from approximately 30-35mm in length by 10-15mm in length across the abdomen in resting position. Females on average weigh roughly 4 grams, with males weighing in at half that weight.
Of course, it is difficult to study the Lemur Leaf frog without surprise at its interesting morphological variation of terminal phalanges. It has a Curved longitudinal axis, a pointed distal tip, an entirely absent apophyses, a rounded shape for its proximal epiphysis, and lastly a pivot and monoaxial articulation phalange terminal-interclary element. In addition, it possesses a thick biconcave disc shape, an embryonic cartilage with a small mineralized nucleus structure, and ginglymus and monoaxial penultimate phalange. And these are only ''some'' of its best features.
DistributionAlthough the Hylomantis lemur was once considered a common species in Costa Rica it has since declined in population. With more than an 80% decrease in population in a period of 10 years it is now closely being monitored in Panama where it is still abundant in the lower elevations of central and eastern parts of the country. However, there have been no further reports on the populations of these lemur frogs endemic to Columbia. Due to their marked drop in population these species of lemurs has been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2004. Related causes that may be linked to the disappearance of these frogs are chytridiomycosis and general loss of habitat from deforestation.
StatusThe first ''in situ'' conservation effort for the lemur leaf frog was started in 2003. The project, carried out by the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center, consists of introducing tadpoles to artificial ponds every year, gradually increasing the wild population of the frog inside of the reserve. The project has been so successful that the frogs are spreading out from the center.
In addition, ''H. lemur'' has been a beneficiary of conservation efforts on behalf of the Amphibian Conservation Center and the Amphibian Recovery and Consolation Commission. It has been successfully bred in captivity both at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and in El Valle, Panama. The breeding efforts of this species in Atlanta were successful enough that offspring have been sent to 15 other countries' own conservation centers, a feat that has been described as a template for future amphibian conservation efforts.
In Costa Rica, lemur leaf frogs are currently only found in two remaining locations. Genetic testing of the mitochondrial DNA of the Costa Rican lemur leaf frog populations show that those frogs are distinct from the Panamanian frogs. This highlights the need for conservation of the Costa Rican populations. A study published by Springer International characterized nine loci in the genes of lemur leaf frogs, allowing for the creation of a studbook for this species to help in conservation and breeding efforts.
Hylomantis lemurs have shown anti-cancer and anti-bacterial functions despite the limited study of them. With the conservation of the species, additional studies can prove to be essential to human medicine.Given that the population of Hylomantis Lemur is on the decline in South America, there exist efforts to create and enact a plan of conservation to save the species. A stumbling block to the conservation of Hylomantis Lemur is its tendency to develop a vitamin A defiency when given insect-based diets. Lesions develop shortly after vitamin A deficiency comes into effect. The tongue of the Hylomantis Lemur is the region most prominently affected by squamous metaplasia. Other metaplastic injuries occur else, however, and are found in the oral and nasal cavities, the esophagus, stomach, reproductive tract and bladder. Better procedures for analyzing postmotem amphibian samples are needed if we are to develop a more accurate correlative model for the relationship between hypovitaminosis A and pathologic lesions.
Another conservation effort is the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center in El Valle de Antón, Panama. This facility provides an in-country ex situ location for amphibians that have the greatest potential risk of extinction from chytridiomycosis. H. Lemur falls into this category. During 2006-2007, the water – through means of filtration from tap sources – in which they were living turned out to be soft and acidic. Ultraviolet B spectrum lighting was provided on all tanks for two hours daily via modified halogen bulbs. From 2006-2008, their diet consisted of wild caught invertebrates, including: katydids, termites, fruit flies, and isopods.
In the necropsy, h. Lemur was classified in the demographic, Captive-Bred Juveniles , one that included animals resulting from captive breeding of wild‐caught Long-Term Residents , another demographic that consisted of animals that had died after 90 days of conservation.
The results showed that the cause of death for the h. lemur in the EVACC were poor nutritional condition and osteodystrophy, with very small amounts contracting lungworm infection and squamous metaplasia.
HabitatHylomantis lemur, the lemur tree frog, thrives in humid lowlands and montane primary forests with sloping areas. The lowest elevation at which this species has been sighted is 440 meters and the highest 1600 meters. They usually populate areas margining the Atlantic versant in Costa Rica and Panama, and slightly crossing over to Colombia. Costa Rica is currently host to three sites in which this species resides. They are Fila Asuncion ; a forested area near Parque National Barbilla; and Guayacán in Limón Province. Of these three locations Fila Asuncion is the only one known to have a large breeding population.
ReproductionHylomantis lemur participate in "prolonged breeding" that takes place continuously during the rainy seasons, primarily observed during spring or summer. These species engage in the ritual calling. The male lemur frog intones a series of clicks to call out the females.Hylomantis lemurs produce up to 20 eggs at a time. They are usually deposited under resting leaves overhanging a water supply. These eggs are blueish green or grey encased in the typical jelly mass. Depending on the temperature, food, and water supply tadpoles will usually drop into the water at around 7 days and the metamorphosis, 90–150 days. Hylomantis lemurs lay terrestrial eggs on structures overhanging water and produce aquatic tadpoles.Eggs go through pre-mature hatching when there is danger that could be lethal for young eggs. In times of flooding, because it is believed to cause suffocation, the eggs of Hylomantis lemur hatch prematurely. When there is a predator, vibration cues cause the embryos to hatch prematurely, in order to escape attack.
FoodThe specific diet of the Hylomantis lemur is not catalogued but it is believed that their diet relies primarily on insects.
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