Revealed the origin of Colombian poisonous frog hybrids

Revealed the origin of Colombian poisonous frog hybrids
Revealed the origin of Colombian poisonous frog hybrids

Biologists from Canada, Colombia and the United States have found that the origin of the little-studied population of Colombian hybrid frogs is the result of natural reproduction, and not the activities of exotic animal traders. The results of the study are presented in an article published in the journal Molecular Ecology.

“We found that these unique hybrid frogs appeared more than 20 years ago - before they were trafficked - and only live in a small area of the jungle,” says Andres Posso-Terranova, one of the researchers at the University of Saskatchewan. "Our research will help the Colombian government understand what these frogs are and why they need to be preserved."

This newly introduced species of poisonous frog is the result of a cross between Oophaga anchicayensis and the very dangerous Oophaga lehmanni. These animals are highly regarded on the international black market and are loved by collectors for their varied colored body designs. Each frog costs up to two thousand dollars, which prompts local impoverished people to sell them to traders. But the Colombian government is campaigning with locals to propose alternative sources of income that could stop the trade in rare species.

Noticing the uniqueness of Colombian hybrid frogs, the research team took tissue samples from more than 170 individuals and took photographs of them in order to better classify and find out their origins. To analyze the data, the scientists used the most modern tools to study the frog genome. The authors showed that gene flow between the hybrid and the other two groups of frogs is limited. This means that they all continue to live together with each other.

According to scientists, this is not the case when hybrids begin to breed with the "parent" species, and eventually displace them. These individuals are the result of a natural reproduction process. The researchers found that the two "pure" species live at different altitudes, and it is likely that they eventually expanded their range and began to interbreed with each other.

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