Neotropical Poison Frogs

This topic submitted by Kristin Abbott ( at 12:59 PM on 3/4/03.

A view from the air--Where have the forests gone? (Sierpe River Area, SW Costa Rica)

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University

Neotropical Poison Frogs

Poison frogs, more commonly known as poison dart frogs, are one of the more unique families of organisms of the Neotropics with their beautiful coloration and toxic skin. I plan to study the basic biology of these frogs, including their habitat, life cycle, and role in the ecosystem. I will also investigate the basis of txicity and effects of their toxins. Finally, I will examine the importance of these fascinating creatures to human life. Native tribes discovered the value of the frogs' toxins, and now we are beginning to apply the same toxins to the modern medical scene.


I. Intro

II. Biological Information about Poison Frogs
A. Types
1. Genus Dendrobates
2. Genus Colostethus
3. Genus Phyllobates
ex. Phyllobates terribilis
B. Physical Characteristics
1. Size
2. Coloration
C. Habitat and Geographical Distribution
D. Reproductive Behavior
E. Life Cycle
F. Role in the Ecosystem

III. Toxicity of Poison Frogs
A. Basis of Toxicity
B. Batrachotoxin
C. Exposure Pathways
D. Effects of toxins
E. Levels of Toxicity in Captivity

IV. Human Uses
A. Native Tribes' Uses of Frogs
B.Modern Uses in Medicine

V. Conclusion


1. Bainbrigde, Jr., S. S. "Frogs that Sweat- not bullets, but a poison for darts." Smithsonian. Jan 1998. pp 70-71.

2. Daly, John W. and Meyers, Charles W. "Toxicity of Panamanian Poison Frogs (Dendrobates): Some Biological and Chemical Aspects." Science, New Series. Vol. 156, No. 3777. May 1967. pp 970-973.

3. Daly, John W., Meyers, Charles W., Warnick, Jordan E., and Alburquerque, Edison X. "Levels of Batrachotoxin and Lack of Sensitivity to its Action in Poison-Dart Frogs." Science, New Series. Vol. 208. No. 4450. pp 1383-1385.

4. Maxson, Linda R. and Meyers, Charles W. "Albumin Evolution in Tropical Poison Frogs (Dendrobatidae): A Preliminary Report." Biotropica. Vol. 17. No. 1. Mar. 1985. pp 50-56.

5. Myers, Charles W. and Daly, John W. "Dart-poison frogs." Scientific American. Feb. 1983. pp 120-130.

6. Summers, Kyle, and Clough, Mark E. "The evolution of coloration and toxicity in the poison frog family (Dendrobatidae)." Accessed via the web address Viewed Mar. 3, 2003.

7. Szeliestowski, William A. "Unpalatiability of the Poison Arrow Frog Dendrobates pumilio to the Clenid Spider Cupiennius Coccineus." Biotropica. Vol. 17, No. 4. Dec. 1985. pp 345-346.

8. Talgen, Theodore L. and Pough, Harvey F. "Prey Preference, Foraging Behavior, and Metabolic Characteristics of Frogs." American Naturalist. Vol. 122, No. 4. Oct. 1983. pp 509-520.

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